Friday, 24 May 2013

Conjunction, ISS, Flyby, 2 IAA events, BBQ, Space Expo, ASGI, Solarfest, & MORE!

Hi all,
1. Venus emerges to meet Jupiter and Mercury: Brilliant Venus is now emerging from Solar conjunction into the evening twilight. As it moves further out from the Sun, it meets Jupiter, the second brightest planet, as Jupiter moves to pass behind the Sun. They have now been joined by shy twinkling Mercury, to form one of the loveliest conjunctions for many years.
   Tonight, at about 22.30 BST, Mercury (mag -0.9) will lie 1deg 20' above and right of Venus (mag -3.9), with Jupiter (mag -1.9) 4 deg above left of Venus.
   Tomorrow night Mercury will be 1.5 degrees above Venus, with Jupiter to the left forming an isosceles triangle.
   Watch over the next week as they change their relative positions, including a lovely equilateral triangle on 26 May. 
   From beginning to end, the three naked-eye planets will be close enough to fit inside the field of ordinary binoculars from now until early June. May 26th is just the best among many very good nights.
2. ISS morning passes: The ISS is now giving a series of morning passes over Ireland, and these will gradually change seamlessly into evening passes in early June, as the nights shorten. Details as always on the excellent, and free
3. Another asteroid flyby: Asteroid 1998 QE2 to Pass 'Close' to Earth on 31 May. This won't be nearly as close as some other recent flybys, but 1998 QE2 is a good bit bigger than the others, with a maximum dimension of 1.7 miles. If one that size were to hit us, there would be widespread devastation over a large area - say the size of France. But it wouldn't be a 'planet-killer', as some reports have dubbed it. see the following for more info:
4. IAA at Glenavy: We will be presenting another evening of astronomy at Glenavy on Friday 14 June as part of their Fun Week. This will run from 7 to 10 pm, with shows in the Stardome, telescopes and binoculars on display, an exhibition of meteorites and space memorabilia. If it's clear, we'll be observing a nice fat crescent Moon, and maybe we'll be able to get Mercury and Venus, although they will both be low down in the brightish twilight. More details, including directions, will be on the IAA website:
5. IAA SOLAR DAY, CARNFUNNOCK COUNTRY PARK. We'll be holding another of these very popular solar days at Carnfunnock Country Park on the A2 Antrim Coast Road just a few miles N of Larne, on Saturday 15 June, 2 - 5 p.m. Solar telescopes, the biggest collection of sundials in Ireland, an astronomy exhibition, and of course the mobile planetarium with shows for young and old. More details later.
6. IAA MIDSUMMER BBQ: This will be held at about 5.15 p.m., immediately after our Solar day at Carnfunnock CP on Saturday 15 June: see above;
7. EUROPEAN SPACE EXPO:  The European Space Expo ( will land in the Front Square of Trinity College Dublin on June 4-9. The Expo attracted over 12,000 visitors when it visited London last December so we are expecting a large number of visitors. 
   The European Space Expo is an exciting, interactive exhibition visiting Dublin in June. Hosted by the School of Physics, the spectacular Space Expo dome will be in Front Square and open to the public from 4th – 9th June. Inside the dome visitors will get to experience the wonders of space through interactive exhibits and will learn how space science can benefit us all.
   Each day a series of short Soapbox Talks will be given by talented scientists and communicators from all over Ireland. A team of dedicated mediators will take you on a fun-filled tour of the dome and answer all of your questions.
   At lunch time every day we will host the Sun@One – your chance to remotely control a world-famous telescope on the Canary Islands and take pictures of the sun.
    Inside the dome visitors will get to experience the wonders of space through interactive exhibits and will learn how space science can benefit us all.
     For those of you attending the ASGI meeting in TCD on June 7, there will be a public talk at 5:30pm by Dr. Anna Scaife, a recent ERC awardee, followed by a reception in the Space Expo at 7:00pm.
8. The ASGI Summer Meeting will be held in Trinity College, Dublin on Friday June 7th 2013. This date and venue have been chosen to coincide with the visit of the European Space Expo to TCD (see for more details). This is a professional level meeting, but members of affiliated societies, such as the IAA, are welcome to attend. But be warned: most of it is heavy stuff!
9. SOLARFEST 2013, DUNSINK: Saturday, June 29th, will feature 5 talks on our nearest star from both amateur and professional astronomers. There will also be a workshop on building a magnetometer and solar observing if the weather permits. Tours will be given of the Observatory and the South Dome. All are welcome and admission is free.
  Among the amateur astronomer speakers are John O'Neill and Terry Moseley. More details can be found at

10. SEND YOUR NAME TO AN ASTEROID: You can send your name, free on the Japanese asteroid sampler spacecraft Hayabusa-2. Go to, site of the Planetary Society; on the bottom left corner it says 'Fly to an asteroid!' and go from there. Deadline is 16 July. (Thanks to Derek Heatly for this)

UCD is now offering Ireland's first Masters specialising in Space Science & Technology.
  This one-year taught MSc programme has been developed following close consultation with academic and industry experts operating in the sector, and promises to deliver a highly relevant curriculum. Furthermore, students will be assisted in organising a summer practicum with an academic research group, or one of our space science industry placement partners, including EnBio, ESTEC, Astrium, Sensl and Tyndall.
   First entry to the course will be in September 2013. For further information please visit our website <> or contact Deirdre Coffey at UCD directly.
12: Bright Fireball over Belfast, 23 May:  I had just finished observing the moon last night and put my scope away.  However as I was still looking out and checking cloud cover I saw a fireball race across the sky. It seemed to appear directly overhead and move in a south-easterly direction. I live in South Belfast and have a clear view over to the Castlereagh Hills I would estimate the size as being half to a third the size of the visible moon and just as bright.  It covered my visible area of sky in a second or two, the fastest object I have ever witnessed. (Paul Meli)
13. Deirdre goes to West Java with ACTION SUN. Congrats to Deirdre Kelleghan, who has been invited to present / create her Action Sun workshop at Building the Scientific Mind 2013 in Lembang. Other presenters at the event, local children and teachers will take part.
   Here is the program for the week
   The venue is the Bosscha Observatory and I am looking forward to it. Follow my journey on Twitter @skysketcher or Facebook Deirdre Kelleghan.
Here is the program:
Good luck, and safe trip, to Deirdre.

14. Alan Bean (Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot) to visit Yorkshire, October 11 & 12. Dinner, talks, signed photos and autographs Details from
15. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: (some details are wrong: Skylab never went to the Moon, and no-one at all went to the Moon in 1973!) (if this was really possible at the size and mass of a space ship, the aliens would already be here!)
16. BCO: For information on events at Blackrock Castle Observatory, including the summer Space Camp, see
17. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro

18. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on Look under 'Countryfile'.
19. 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
I'm now back on Twitter, after some temporary hiccups: @terrymoseley2


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