Friday, 1 March 2013

Fwd: Lecture, Meteorite, TV, Bright comet, IAA @ St Pat's, Scholarship, COSMOS, Web

Hi all,
1.  IAA LECTURE: The next IAA public lecture will be on Wednesday 6 March, at 7.30 p. m. It will be given by Professor Tom Ray, of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS)
. The title is "From Pebbles to Planets: Our changing ideas of how the Solar System formed".
    Prof Ray is a leading researcher in many areas of astronomy and astrophysics, and is Co-Principal Investigator of the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), one of the four main instruments on board the James Webb Space Telescope, the replacement for the HST.
    Tom studied at Trinity College Dublin before working at Jodrell Bank, the University of Manchester, the University of Sussex and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg. He is currently Professor of Astrophysics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, specialising in star formation.
   Tom has given several lectures to the IAA, and is an excellent and entertaining speaker, so you shouldn't miss this one.
   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.
2. Even more on the 'Russian Meteor'.
   Update from Mike Simms (slightly edited): The evidence does seem to be stacking up (that the hole in the frozen lake was due to impact from part of the meteoroid) - the hole had frozen over again a week or so later. Predictions are that what is down there is probably a few tens of kg. Biggest individual piece found so far is 1.8kg, but hundreds of small ones have been found, and a few have appeared on ebay (and sold for silly prices, such as $1336 for a 31g stone - $43/g!). First analysis, which I can't read ( classified it as an LL5 but claims of 10% iron, and iron visible in some pics, suggest it may be an L chondrite.
   Finally, comments from two 'lunatics', one on either side of the Atlantic:
and No, it's not a joke. And tomorrow is 1 March, not 1 April. Just think: this is the guy who chairs the Science, Space, and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives (Congress) in the most powerful nation on Earth. That's even scarier than the 'Russian Meteor' itself!
    Someone should fly him in a helicopter over the Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona. (No, he shouldn't then be pushed out. There's no point in polluting the crater.)
3.  METEOR/ITES on TV: (thanks to Peter Miller for this alert)
CHANNEL 4, 8:00 pm SUNDAY 3 MARCH Meteor Strike: Fireball from Space
Last month, a meteorite bigger than a double-decker bus crashed into Russia's Ural mountains, injuring more than 1,000 people. This documentary includes previously unseen footage of the event, as astrophysicists explain exactly what it was - and the likelihood of it happening again. Director/Producer Andrew Barron. Repeated next day at 9pm on 4seven (S)
BBC2 9:00 pm SUNDAY 3 MARCH: The Truth about Meteors: a Horizon Special
Earth's journey through space is continually fraught with danger, brought sharply into focus last month when a meteorite ripped across the skies into the Ural mountains in Russia. Here, Professor Iain Stewart explores the make-up of meteorites and asteroids, where they come from and the danger they pose.
Producer James Van der Pool; Executive producer Jonathan Renouf. Repeated next day, 11.50pm (S) Also on BBC HD   
   Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) was discovered in 2011 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System a 1.8-m telescope in Hawaii that is used to watch for objects that might pose a danger to Earth.  In early March, the comet will pass about 90 million miles from Earth, briefly dipping inside the orbit of Mercury.
   Since it will be quite close to the Sun it may become visible to the unaided eye; maybe about as bright as the stars of the Plough.  However, the brightness of a new comet is always a bit unpredictable. When such comets occasionally fall towards the Sun we don't know how they will react to the Solar heat and light.  This Comet is probably on its first visit to the inner Solar System, so it could either disintegrate without getting too bright, but it could also throw off a lot of gas and dust and become a nice sight in our night sky.
    Because it will go close to the Sun it could be quite active, but could still be difficult to see, because when at its best it will appear very close to the Sun, only observable in twilight.
  The best dates to look may be March 12 and 13 when it appears in the western twilight not far from the crescent Moon.  A comet and the crescent Moon in the twilight glow is a rare sight.  The head of the comet may well be visible to the naked eye, but a good view of the tail may require use of binoculars or a small telescope.
5.  IAA at St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon, 8 March. There will be another public astronomy evening on Friday 8 March, at the school at 7.30 p.m. As well as the school's own 14" Celestron, once again we'll have a selection of our own powerful telescopes and binoculars for viewing the night sky, an exhibition, short astronomy and space films, a selection of meteorites (rocks from space) which you can actually hold, and of course the Stardome mobile planetarium just in case of bad weather. And you'll have a chance to meet our own 'Ulsternaut', Derek Heatly from Groomsport, who is booked to fly into space with Virgin Galactic.
There will be several shows (admission charge) in the Stardome during the evening, and these MUST be booked in advance by ringing the school at
 37 Killymeal Rd, Dungannon, County Tyrone BT71 6DS T. 028 8772 7400
  The highlight will be a great view of giant Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, with its four large Moons all beautifully laid out, two on either side of the planet. Observing is of course weather dependant.
 See also: These are always very popular events, so book early.

6.  Postponed: The IAA Public Astronomy Event at Glenarm Castle scheduled for 18 March has been postponed until later in the year.


Applications are invited for the Lindsay Scholarship jointly funded by Armagh Observatory and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, to carry out research leading to a PhD in Astrophysics. This fixed-term postgraduate studentship position is available for suitably qualified candidates for three years starting September/October2013. Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree or the equivalent in an appropriate discipline (e.g. Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy or
Astrophysics). The student will be based in Armagh Observatory but is expected to register in Trinity College Dublin and may have close research links with DIAS. Further information and the application pack are available at

8. COSMOS 2013: Advance notice: The next COSMOS star party will be held at Tullamore on 12-14 April. More details later.
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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