Friday, 31 May 2013

Asteroid Flyby, ISS, NLCs, 2 IAA Events, Space Expo, ASGI, Solarfest, Weblinks

Hi all,

1. Asteroid 1998 QE2. + its moon, to Pass 'Close' to Earth tonight. 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. And it has just been discovered to be a binary asteroid, with a companion of about 600m diameter. If 1998 QE2 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 links below for more info:
   It will be low down in Libra at closest approach, but will be visible in good amateur telescopes later tonight, and maybe for the following 2 nights, if you get an accurate ephemeris for it, and a star chart going down to at least 12th magnitude. See, and then follow link to JPL Ephemeris generator, and then enter your position (e.g. Belfast or Dublin etc.
   I was interviewed about it on Radio Ulster this morning at the very unsociable hour of 07.25! (The things I do for astronomy.....)
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. Noctilucent Clouds: We are now entering the season for NLCs, and there was a lovely display last night. Andy McCrea & Paul Evans got some superb images, which should be on the IAA website soon, if not already: Look low on the Northern horizon for the hour or two around local midnight (that's in GMT: by your watch, say around 01.00)
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

INTERESTING WEBLINKS: (Very high altitude might be OK, but from low Earth orbit you have the problem of a 17,500 mph entry speed, which tends to burn things up, or melt them, as the unfortunate crew of Columbia found out....)
11. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro

12. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on Look under 'Countryfile'.
13. 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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