1. Perseid Party, 11 August, Delamont Country Park. The Irish Astronomical Association will host another 'Perseid Party' for the maximum of the most popular of the annual meteor showers on the evening of Sat 11 August, at DCP just S of Killyleagh, Co Down. We will start off with a fry-up, or BBQ depending on your tastes, in the early evening, followed by an observing session in the nice dark skies of the country park late into the night if it stays clear. Obviously this is weather dependant, so check the IAA website (www.irishastro.org) before going, to check on the latest situation. Moon conditions this year are very favourable - see below.
2. PERSEID METEORS to peak on August 12. The Perseids are the best-known of the year's meteor showers, and are usually the most popular as the nights do not get as cold as the other major showers in the winter! Maximum this year is predicted for 10.00 on 12 August, which means that the night of 11-12 August should give the highest observed rates, with the night of Aug. 12-13 next best. The Moon will be only a thin waning crescent, and won't rise until late in the night, so moonlight won't interfere this year.
The shower actually begins with a low level of activity at the end of July, building up gradually in intensity until the maximum, and then declining until it ends about 19-20 August. With Full Moon occurring on 2 August, the best period for observation will be from about 7 August onwards.
The meteors appear to come from the constellation of Perseus, which will be rising in the NE as darkness falls, but they can be seen anywhere in the sky. The best area to look is to centre your gaze on an area of sky about 50 degrees to the left or right of the radiant (whichever is clearer and darker), and about 55 degrees above the horizon. The Perseids are tiny particles cast off by comet 109p Swift-Tuttle.
Perseids are swift, and often bright, and in a clear dark sky you should see an average of at least one per minute, including a few spectacular fireballs. Don't miss it.
3. Solar day at WWT, 12 August: Rounding off a busy weekend, the IAA will be running another one of our popular Solar Days at the WWT, Castle Espie, near Comber, Co Down, on Sunday afternoon, 12 August, from 2 - 5 p.m. This will comprise viewing the Sun in visible light, H-Alpha and Calcium light, using special solar telescopes and filters, if the sky is clear. We will also have starshows in the Stardome portable planetarium (thanks to Dr Tom Mason of Armagh Planetarium), and an exhibition of amazing meteorites from outer space, space photos, memorabilia, and other items. A great day for all the family, even if it is cloudy. See: www.irishastro.org for more details.
4. ISS. The International Space Station is now visible in both morning and evening skies over Ireland. Details for your own location are available, along with much other information, on the excellent and free site: www.heavens-above.com
5. INTERESTING WEBLINKS:
6. TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account: @IaaAstro
8. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc. 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 www.irishastro.org.