Saturday, 20 April 2013

New IAA Council, Lyrids, Faulkes Comp, Dark Sky Site launch, Weblinks, etc

Hi all,

1. IAA AGM: UPDATE  The following were elected as the new Council of the Irish Astronomical association at the AGM:

President: Paul Evans
Vice Presidents: Philip Baxter, David Stewart
Secretary: Danny Collins
Treasurer: Mrs Josephine Magill
STARDUST Editor: Dr Andy McCrea
PR: Terry Moseley
Members: Brian Beesley, David Collins, Tony Kempston, Pat O'Neill
Ex officio: Prof Mark Bailey (AO), Robert Hill (NISO), Dr Tom Mason (AP), Prof Stephen Smartt (QUB)
Thanks to George Brannon who has decided to stand down after 25 years of sterling service, although he will continue to organise our New Year Party.
Congratulations to the new Council members: Brian Beesley (a former President, who took a back seat for a while) and Tony Kempston
And congratulations to Deirdre McGivern who won the prize of a pair of binoculars drawn from a list of all the new members who joined during the year.

2. ISS The International Space Station Visible in Evening Skies
The International Space Station (ISS), is making another series of evening passes over Ireland, and will continue to do so until April 22nd.
3. LYRID METEORS: This shower will peak on April 22 at 06.00, but viewing will be spoiled by a nearly full Moon which will be above the horizon almost until dawn. The hourly rate is usually about 15-20, but it has sometimes been noticeably higher, as in 1922 and 1982, so it's worth having a look anyway, especially just before dawn.
  Coincidentally, the parent body for this shower is Comet Thatcher (c/1861 G1 Thatcher)! Nothing to do with the late PM: it was discovered by AE Thatcher in 1861; it has a long period of around 415 years. There's no connection between comets and meteorites, otherwise might we expect a few iron ones?
4. The Faulkes Telescope Discover the Cosmos Project is part of an EU-funded project aimed at inspiring young people in STEM subjects. This project, consisting of partners from across the EU is called 'Discover the Cosmos' and we'd like to draw your attention to some of the exciting resources and opportunities that the project has for you (and they're all free!).
Discover the Cosmos (DtC) portal: The DtC portal is a repository of free educational material (educational scenarios and lesson plans, students projects, animations, online tools and laboratories guidelines for interactive experiences with Astronomy and High Energy Physics resources) which has been peer-rated by educators across the EU. You have to register and log-in to view the material in the portal, but once done, you can search the vast archive of resources to find activities on anything from particle accelerators to the Universe! You can also design your own activities and upload it on here for others to use, so this is a great way of sharing your knowledge and good practise with others. The portal can be accessed from: Discover the Cosmos Competitions: In collaboration with the other UK partners of the DtC project (Liverpool John Moores University, University of Birmingham and Cambridge University) we are holding 2 competitions - one for teachers and one for students. Teachers can win a place at the DtC summer school in Volos, Greece, this summer - all expenses paid! Students can win the chance to name an asteroid, and a real meteorite! The closing date for both these competitions is 24th April 2013. With only a limited number of entries for both competitions so far, your chances of winning are looking good!
More information on the competitions can be found here:
   If you need any other information or have any questions on the Discover the Cosmos project and/or opportunities, then please feel free to email Sarah Roberts at
5. Dark Sky Site Launch at LNDC: The first official Dark Sky Site in Northern Ireland, and maybe in the whole Island, will be officially opened on the weekend of 27-28 April at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, Oxford Island, near Lurgan, Co Armagh.
   This site is designated as 'Milky Way Class', since the MW can be seen from there on a clear Moonless night. While it is obviously not as dark as some sites in the country, it gets the award for being a site dark enough to see the MW, for minimising local light pollution, for promoting Dark Sky awareness, for facilitating public access, and for being within reasonable travelling distance for a large population, i.e. Craigavon and Greater Belfast.
  The official opening of the spectacular and artistic new Analemmatic Human Sundial, originally planned for that W/E, has been postponed because of delays in site work due to the recent bad weather.
Location: Oxford Island is just a few miles from Junction 10 on the M1, and is well signposted from that junction.
More details of that event when available:

7. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro

8. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on Look under 'Countryfile'.
9. 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 youYou can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button.  See also
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley
Twitter: @terrymoseley2