Saturday, 12 January 2013

Fabulous Stargazing Live, IAA Lecture, ISS, Astro Course, Galileo, GSP, Sun, PM

Hi all,
1. STARGAZING LIVE RESOUNDING SUCCESS: I'm running out of superlatives, but the Stargazing Live events, in which the IAA was the major partner with the BBC, really exceeded all expectations - and after last year's great success, expectations were high!
   First was a public 'Jupiter Watch' in front of the main Lanyon Building at QUB, on Tuesday evening, from 6.0 - 10.0pm, in association with the astrophysics department of QUB. Last year we had a perfectly clear sky, and about 400-500 people attended. This year? - another lovely clear night, and about 800 people got amazing views of Jupiter and its four bright moons through the 19 telescopes and 1 large pair of binoculars we provided. That was 2013 S-L off to a brilliant start.
   Next was our usual fortnightly public lecture on Wednesday evening: this one was by Prof Phil Dufton of QUB, entitled "45 years in Astronomy". This was a fascinating journey through the changes in the last 45 years of research astronomy, and was very well received.
  Thursday 10th was the 'Big Night'. This again was at the superb venue of Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island, near Moira. Last year we had about 1200 people, and everyone agreed it had been an amazing success, even though it was a cloudy night. This time it was a much bigger event, with daytime activities for schools, and a wider range of activities for the main evening event. There's no room to list everything here, but check the IAA website for details. Among the highlights were stargazing cruises for 60 people at a time on Lough Neagh, with a theme of celestial navigation, ably led by our Past President Pat O'Neill. These were all fully booked, very successful, and he even got the boat back to the jetty each time!
   There was a simultaneous live 2-hour broadcast on Radio Ulster, hosted by the one and only Anne-Marie McAleese, which included frequent interviews with myself, President Paul Evans, Andy McCrea and many many more.
   IAA members Andy McCrea and Barry Loane helped girls from a local school make an 8" Dobsonian: after a good deal of earlier preparatory work, they put it together on the day.
  It started off cloudy, but the sky gradually cleared, and we again showed lovely views of Jupiter through telescopes ranging in size up to our 16" Lightbridge.
   And the attendance? An amazing 2,500, plus another 500 during the day. That was a total of 3,800 on the Monday and Wednesday events. Wow!
   Thanks to all the very many IAA members who contributed, and to others who took part such as Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, QUB, and Mike Simms wearing both his IAA and Ulster Museum hats. And thanks also to all the staff at LNDC who hosted the event superbly well, and to the BBC for their usual professionalism and hospitality.
2. IAA LECTURE: The next IAA public lecture will be on Wednesday 23 January, at 7.30 p.m. It will be given by Dr Tolis Christou, of Armagh Observatory. It has the intriguing title "Horseshoes, Tadpoles, and other weirdnesses: Asteroids and Planets Learning to Live Together". That should pique your curiosity! The only clue I'll give is that Tolis is an expert on the orbits and interactions of all the objects in the Solar System. and   Admission is free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome.
This lecture will as usual be in the Bell Lecture theatre, Physics building, main QUB Campus.
3. ISS. The International Space Station has just commenced another series of morning passes over Ireland. Details as usual on the excellent and free site:
4. ASTRONOMY COURSE at STRANMILLIS COLLEGE, BELFAST. I will be delivering a two part course, introduction to astronomy, as follows:

Astronomy:  Our place in the Universe

Looking to the sky for the first time you may feel overwhelmed and confused by the spectacle of thousands of stars above your head.  Astronomy is a great gateway science that can inspire you to do great things!  Participants will gain enjoyment from exploring the wonders of the night sky.  The topics covered include Greek mythology, Egyptian and Babylonian cosmology, Astrobiology, Quantum Physics, Terrestrial and Jovian planets and Solar System to help us understand our place in the cosmos.  This is a great way for the community to come together and take a fresh look at our night belongs to us all.  No experience necessary and questions encouraged! 

Tutor:             Terry Moseley, Time:              7.00pm - 9.00pm

Session 1:         Tuesdays, 5 weeks; dates:      19th February 2013 – 19th March 2013 

Location:        Central Building.

Session 2:         Tuesdays, 5 weeks. Time: 7.00pm - 9.00pm. Dates:      9th April 2013 – 7th May 2013.   Location:        Central Building

There will also be a daytime visit to Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, provisionally on 17 May.

Full details and booking at:

5. Galway Star Party: UPDATE: NB if you are going to this event, you are advised to book accommodation soon, as the Galway Rally will be on the same weekend.
The 10th Galway Starparty: "Ireland, the Final Frontier" takes place on Saturday, 2nd February, 2013 at the Westwood House Hotel, Galway City.
The speakers include:
Dr. Andy Shearer (Centre for Astronomy, NUIG): "Kepler: The Search for Habitable Planets"
Dave Gradwell: "OSCAR: A unique Irish Solar Observatory"
Ronan Newman (workshop): "Celestial Light: Chasing the Elusive Irish Aurora"
John Flannery (South Dublin AS): "What makes a Great Comet?"
Prof. Tom Ray (DIAS): "Making Stars and Planets: The First Three Billion Years"
Dave Grennan: "Hunting Extra-Galactic Supernovae from Ireland"
Terry Moseley (IAA): "Untold Stories of Sir Patrick Moore, FRS" (Celebrating his 90th Birthday)
Professor Lorraine O'Hanlon (UCD) "The GLORIA project"
Details & bookings at:
ACTIVE SUNSPOT: One of the biggest sunspots of the current solar cycle is now turning toward Earth. Named AR1654, the active region is crackling with medium-sized (M-class) flares and could be poised to break the recent spell of calm space weather around our planet.  Check for images and updates.

7. GALILEO AT ARMAGH OBSERVATORY:THE LIFE OF GALILEO", by Bertolt Brecht, Performed in the Armagh Observatory.
   The Greenwood Players and the Armagh Observatory are presenting in the Armagh Observatory from 22nd to 24th February 2013 the first performance on the island of Ireland of the play "The Life of Galileo" by Bertolt Brecht in a new version by David Hare.
   The story of the Life of Galileo and its central drama of the conflict between science, religion and authority is one that resonates today. As remarked by Ian McDonald, author and Executive Producer with the Greenwood Players, "The Life of Galileo" is a story that needs retelling every generation, especially in a 21st century when we seem to be moving away from science to an authority and belief-based worldview.
   There will be five performances of the play: two matinees at 2.00pm on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th February, and three evening performances at 7.00pm on each of 22nd, 23rd and 24th February.  Tickets, which are strictly limited, cost 12 pounds and are available from 14th January 2013 at
For more information, see:

8. PATRICK MOORE PROGRAMME:There is almost a complete evening on the late Sir Patrick on BBC4 this Sunday from 7pm. until 10pm. There are four past Sky at Night programmes, plus the tribute programme and finally an interview with Mark Lawson talking about his early life and career. (Per Peter Paice) 

Onboard tour of the ISS:
10. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro

11. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on Look under 'Countryfile'.
12. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is easy: 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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