Friday, 3 May 2013

Sir PM, Meteors, CERN @ QUB, Aliens, Eclipse, Galileo, Solar Day, BBQ, ASGI, Web


Hi all,
 
1. Sir Patrick Moore Commemoration Events 1:
I was again honoured to be invited to the official BBC commemoration for Sir Patrick Moore, at New Broadcasting House on 1 May. The event was hosted and opened by the Director General of the BBC, Lord Hall of Birkenhead.
   The celebration of his life and work commenced with a presentation by Jane Fletcher, the Producer of the Sky At Night (SAN) from 2002 to the present, with many humorous and telling anecdotes and excerpts. Dr John Mason, one of his closest friends and colleagues, was interviewed extensively about his experiences with the great man.
   A very amusing episode was the reading of the initial correspondence between the BBC and PM, the latter's part being read, in character, by John Culshaw, well known comedian and impressionist.
   Some of the other TV highlights of his career were also shown including his appearances on Morecombe and Wise, Have I got News For You, etc, and of course his legendary live performance on the xylophone.
   The current astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of Ludlow, FRS, OM, then spoke about Patrick's influence on him and other professional astronomers: some of the top people in the profession owed their initial interest in the subject to Sir P.
  There followed an excerpt from one of Patrick's light operas, the intermezzo from Perseus and Andromeda, which he wrote in 1975 (and of which I'm privileged to have an original copy).
   John Culshaw then presented a very unofficial history of the SAN, in the inimitable style of PM himself. No-one can quite 'do' Patrick, or course, but John gets close.
   Dr Brian May was unable to be present, but a very sincere and touching recorded tribute from him was played.
   A professional xylophonist, Owen Gunnell, then played a piece which Patrick had composed for the instrument: "Penguin Parade"
   Pieter Morpurgo, one of the longest serving producers of the SAN (1981 - 1998) recalled some of the highlights of the 'Early Broadcast Years' from 1957 to 1987. Programmes were broadcast live then, as I well remember from my own performance, so very few full recordings remain. But I glimpsed a brief shot of Dr Eric Lindsay and Armagh Observatory.
    Dr Chris Lintott, current co-presenter, then recalled some of the highlights and funny incidents of the later years of the programme.
    Finally Prof Brian Cox gave a very personal and amusing tribute: he of course had appeared on the 700th SAN programme, and they had both appeared on Stargazing Live.
   Afterwards we were all treated to drinks and canapés in the BBC's 'Media Cafe', where I met many many old friends from all over the UK, many of them introduced through Patrick of course. I won't name-drop, but probably every well-known GB astronomer you can think of was there.
   However, just to give a flavour of the esteem in which he was held: Sir Arnold Wolfendale, the previous A.R., was present, as was the A.R. for Scotland, Prof John Brown, and our own Dame Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell, past President of the RAS, and past President of the Institute of Physics, who has lectured to the IAA on several occasions: I was sitting beside her in the auditorium, and she recalled highlights of some of her appearances on the SAN. Also there were Prof Alan Fitzsimmons from QUB, who guested on the programme many times, and Lord Rosse from Birr Castle, which of course featured in several programmes, but I didn't see anyone else there from Ireland.
    A brief account of the event can be read here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/may/01/sir-patrick-moore-missing-trousers
 
2. Sir Patrick Moore Commemoration Events 2: Now the good news; many people have been asking me about whether a public commemoration event for PM will be held. Up until now I have been unable to say either yes or no. But I can now reveal that there definitely WILL be one, later this year, in Chichester, Sussex (close to PM's home in Selsey). The exact date and venue are still to be confirmed, but as soon as they are definite, I will let you know.
   The event will be free, but in view of the expected demand, admission will be by ticket only: details of that as soon as available.
   However, the event will have to be paid for, so any individuals or societies who would like to do some fund-raising for the event should contact me, and I'll give you details of how to proceed.
 
3. Eta Aquarids: This meteor shower will peak at about 02.00 on the morning of 6 May, with no moonlight interfering, but the radiant is low in the SE morning twilight, especially in the N party of the island. Rates in an ideal site and conditions can reach 40 per hour, but we never see anything like that rate from Ireland.
 
4. CERN at QUB:  An exhibition and series of talks about CERN, the LHC, Higgs Boson etc, will be held at QUB on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week. Admission is free, but by ticket only. Unfortunately the first event is already booked out. Details at: http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofMathematicsandPhysics/NewsandEvents/Title,384694,en.html#d.en.384694
 
5. ALIENS AT ARMAGH PLANETARIUM: May Bank Holiday W/END. For details
 
6. Annual Solar Eclipse, Australia, 9-10 May. Following last year's Total Solar Eclipse, North Queensland will have an annular eclipse on 9 May (10 May local time). The track starts in Western Australia, moves into Northern Territory, then across Far North Queensland and out into the Pacific, where it crosses a few small islands. The track crosses that of last November's TSE in a remote area near the base of the Cape York peninsula. … Maximum duration on the mainland is 4m 40s, and longest on any of the islands is 5m 53s. Cairns will see an 89% partial eclipse.
 
7. GALILEO: "THE LIFE OF GALILEO", by Bertolt Brecht, in a new version by David Hare, will be performed by the Greenwood Players in St. George's Church, Belfast, 7.30pm, Saturday 11th May 2013.
This is part of the 14th Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, 2nd--12th May 2013.
For tickets, see 
https://cqaf.ticketsolve.com/shows/873492992/events
For poster, see http://star.arm.ac.uk/~meb/greenwood/galileo_at_St_Georges_poster_2013apr23.jpg
For further information, see http://star.arm.ac.uk/~meb/greenwood/galileo_at_st_georges_pr_2013apr18.pdf

8. 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.
 
9. IAA MIDSUMMER BBQ: This will be held immediately after our Solar day at Carnfunnock CP on Saturday 15 June: see above;
 
10. DIAS ANNUAL REPORT: http://www.dias.ie/images/stories/astro/annual-reports/ar2012.pdf. The IAA, IAS and others get a mention, but perhaps our full contribution to the public outreach at Dunsink could be more fully acknowledged.
11: 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 http://www.astrophysics.ie/?p=778 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!

12. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: 
 
13. BCO: For information on events at Blackrock Castle Observatory, including the summer Space Camp, see www.bco.ie
 
14. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro


15. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
http://www.bbc.co.uk/thingstodo. Look under 'Countryfile'.
 
16. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is easy: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc. 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 www.irishastro.org
  
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley
Twitter: @terrymoseley2

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