Friday, 13 April 2012

AGM, COSMOS, ISS, Lectures, various comps, Weblinks, Titanic Stars, Venus, etc

Hi all,
1.   IAA AGM and TALK, 18 April: The Irish Astronomical Association AGM will be held on
WEDNESDAY 18 April, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. Location:
After the business is completed, long-standing member Mr Michael Duffy will give an illustrated presentation called "Revenge of the Armchair Astronomer". Certain aspects of the content are being withheld from me, but I'm assured by a third party that it will be well worth seeing.
2. COSMOS 2012: The Midlands Astronomy Club present their very popular annual star party, at Annaharvey Farm, just outside Tullamore, Co Offaly, on the W/E of 13-15 April.  Speakers include:
- Thierry Legault, world-renowned French astrophotographer
- Girvan McKay, Midlands Astronomy Club
- Eamon Ansbro, Kingsland Observatory, Roscommon
- Kevin Berwick, Dublin
- Dermot Gannon, Midlands Astronomy Club
- Apostolos Christou, Armagh Observatory
- Lawrence Rigney, Midlands Astronomy Club
More details are available on the website
3. ISS The International Space Station has started a new series of evening passes over Ireland. Details for your own location, and lots of other useful information such as Iridium Flares, are on the free site

4. SDAS LECTURE: Brian Harvey, an expert on the world's space programmes, is the next speaker on April 19th. Brian gave a terrific talk last year on the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's flight and his lecture this month is about the Chinese space programme. With the first Chinese space station Tiangong-1 ( ) being launched in September last year and taikonauts due to make the first docking with the station in August this year, China has big plans for space exploration. 


5. At The Speed of Light? The Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast has the pleasure to invite you to the 1st lecture of this year's Michael West Lecture Series in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
   The Michael West Public Lectures are sponsored by Dr. Michael West, a QUB alumnus and benefactor, and aim to give everyone the chance to hear about the latest scientific developments in Astrophysics and related subjects directly from world-leading scientists.
   The 1st lecture of 2012 deals with and challenges one of the postulates of Einstein's Relativity Theory, that the speed of light is a universal constant. 
   Professor João Magueijo of Imperial College London will tell us about the Big Bang and the subsequent evolution of the Universe. He will also describe his revolutionary idea that the speed of light may not be a constant after all.
Date: 2 May 2012, 7-8pm. Title: What if the Speed of Light isn't constant? What you gain and what you lose. Place: Larmor Lecture Theatre, Queen's University Belfast 
  Please find more information on our speaker and reserve your seat at 
Attendance is free but a reservation is required.

6. "Earth and Sky" photo contest running to April 22nd

 The World at Night (TWAN) web site is running an astrophotography contest this month. More details at   


7. Sky at Night @ 55     

Sir Patrick Moore has picked his 55 favourite night sky objects and over the month of April, would like you to see as many as you can. The Moore Marathon will help celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night, first broadcast on 24th April 1957.

    From the Moon to the star Albireo, the Moore Marathon has something for everyone. You can spot some with your eyes, others need binoculars or a telescope, and you can take part on your own or as a group. On 6 May on BBC One, and 10 May on BBC Four, The Sky at Night will feature a selection of your observations, from the simple to the most interesting. You can take part by downloading a Moore Marathon observing form at

8. Space Shuttle Endeavour Cockpit 'Live'. For some amazing photos, see:
9. Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork: The varied events programme continues in April with something for all ages, and note that booking for their annual space camp, which runs from July 13 to 27, is now open. See

10. New European Astronomy Journalism Prize launched. A new journalism competition to capture and promote inspirational coverage of astronomy was launched on Thursday 29 March at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester. The prize is the ultimate for any astronomy enthusiast - a trip to the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile. Never a week goes by without coming across stories or features on astronomy in the UK media; yet many of the people behind the stories have never had the opportunity to visit the facilities that produce the results they are covering. The Very Large Telescope is the world's most advanced optical instrument, and is located at the Paranal Observatory on Cerro Paranal, a 2,635m mountain in the northern part of Chile. 

Entries into the European Astronomy Journalism Prize must be about astronomy and related areas of technology, or about the work and lifestyles or astronomers, engineers or others working in the field of astronomy. Online, written or broadcast entries are welcome. The competition is being run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and European Southern Observatory (ESO, in conjunction with the Association of British Science Writers and the Royal Astronomical Society. It is open for entries from Monday 2 April 2012 until Friday 27 July 2012. Works must have appeared in English and in the UK, between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012 inclusive to be eligible. They must reflect European interests. A full list of terms and conditions can be found at and at

11. "God, Science and Global Warming".  An Audience with Sir John Houghton CBE FRS. 7.45pm, Tuesday 15th May 2012, The Market Place Theatre, Armagh. (Prof Mark Bailey asked me to circulate this, which may be of interest even though it's not strictly astronomy)
    Sir John Houghton, former co-chair of the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will speak on "God, Science and Global Warming". This will be followed by a discussion chaired by BBC Presenter Mark Carruthers with questions and contributions from the audience.
  Members of the Panel will include Father Timothy Bartlett (author of the pastoral reflection on climate change "The Cry of the Earth"), Professor Valerie Hall (Emeritus Professor of Palaeoecology at Queen's University Belfast) and Michael Nugent (Chairman of Atheist Ireland).  With Sir John as the keynote speaker and with such a group of experts this promises to be an enjoyable and enlightening evening.
   The ticket price of £7.50 (+ £1 online booking fee) includes light refreshments at 7.00pm and there are afternoon tours of Armagh City's main attractions, and packages for overnight stays.  Book online at
  To learn more about the event and opportunities to experience Armagh City visit, and

12. TITANIC STARS (the celestial ones). If you intend to see the new 3-d version of Titanic, you'll be glad to know that an astronomical error in the original version has now been corrected - the only change that director Cameron made. See:

13. VENUS continues to blaze in the evening twilight sky - a real celestial beacon! It is now approaching its greatest brilliancy, and shows a distinct crescent phase in a small telescope. The phase is currently about 40%, and gradually decreasing as it moves inexorably towards its transit across the face of the Sun on 6 June. More on that in a later bulletin.

14 TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account. twitter@IaaAstro

15. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
16. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. If you are a UK taxpayer, please tick the 'gift-aid' box, as that enables us to reclaim the standard rate of tax on your subscription, at no cost to you.  See also
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley


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