As we head towards the next solar maximum, expected next spring, there is renewed interest in our nearest star, whose vagaries are not only fascinating, but of vital interest to life on Earth.
5. "Meteorites Tamed" Lecture Series, Ulster Museum, by Dr Mike Simms
Mondays at 7.30pm, 22nd October – 26th November 2012
Free. Booking for each lecture essential: Go to www.nmni.com, Telephone 028 9044 0000
(Lines open Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SYNOPSIS: Every year visitors from Outer Space arrive on Earth. These are meteorites, messengers from beyond our planet. This series of six lectures from Dr Mike Simms will explain what meteorites are, where they come from, how they get here, and what they can tell us about the far reaches and earliest history of our Solar System.
6. The International Space Station (ISS) is coming to the end of a series of 'Morning Passes' over Ireland. It will then commence a series of evening passes on 11 / 12 October. See www.heavens-above.com for details for your own location.
7. ODYSSEUS SPACE CONTEST FOR EU SCHOOLS: (From Robert Hill): This is a nice challenge for schools in Ireland, North and south. See http://www.odysseus-contest.eu/
Preliminary weather reports from the Curiosity's Remote Environment Monitoring Station (REMS) are showing some surprisingly mild temperatures during the day. Average daytime air temperatures have reached a peak of 6 degrees Celsius at 2pm local time. A Martian day – known as a Sol – is slightly longer than Earths at 24 hours and 39 minutes. Temperatures have risen above freezing during the day for more than half of the Martian Sols since REMS started recording data. Because Mars's atmosphere is much thinner than Earth's and its surface much drier, the effects of solar heating are much more pronounced. At night the air temperatures sink drastically, reaching a minimum of -70 degrees just before dawn.
NASA's Mars Science Laboratory touched down in Gale Crater on 5th August 2012 close to the equator of Mars at a latitude of 4.5 degrees south. The southern hemisphere of Mars is approaching springtime, leading to speculation about possible temperatures for at the height of Martian summer.
"That we are seeing temperatures this warm already during the day is a surprise and very interesting," says Dr Felipe Gómez of the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid. "It's very early days and we are only now being able to test our models against REMS observations. If this warm trend carries on into summer, we might even be able to foresee temperatures in the 20s – and that would be really exciting from a habitability point of view. In the daytime, we could see temperatures high enough for liquid water on a regular basis. But it's too soon to tell whether that will happen or whether these warm temperatures are just a blip."
10. MORE HYPE on COMET ISON:
"Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse" by Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S.
Mon 19 Nov 6:30pm, Theatre L, Newman Building, Arts Block, UCD. Admission free.