3. IAA at WWT, 11 August. We return to one of our most popular venues, the WWT at Castle Espie, near Comber, Co Down, for another 'Solar Day', from 2 - 5 p.m. We will have a wide variety of telescopes, using special filters and other methods for safely viewing the Sun. Is it now at 'Solar Maximum'? How many sunspots and prominences will be visible? Come along and see for yourself. And if it's cloudy, we will of course have the usual starshows in the Stardome, exhibition of telescopes, binoculars and meteorites, and lots of other attractions. IAA members bringing telescopes get in free; otherwise normal WWT admission charges apply. See www.irishastro.org.
4. IAA PERSEID PARTY at DELAMONT, 12 August. The IAA 'Triple Whammy' climaxes with a free BBQ and observing event for the maximum of the Perseid Meteors (see Item 1 above) on the evening of 12 August, at Delamont Country Park, between Killyleagh and Downpatrick, Co Down. This is obviously weather dependent, so check the IAA website www.irishastro.org for an update if the forecast is not too good. Bring your own food, drink, plates, eating implements etc, and your own BBQ if you have one: if not, you can probably use some spare space on someone else's. Bring a folding chair, or a waterproof rug, or best of all, a recliner, for comfortable viewing. There will be a waxing crescent Moon very low in the SW, with Saturn just above it, so we may glimpse these with a few portable telescopes, but it will be mainly a night for naked-eye viewing. DCP is well signposted just a few miles S of Killyleagh.
5. SPRITE CAPTURED BY ARMAGH OBSERVATORY! Not a type of fairy, nor a wayward soft drink bottle, but a very rare type of lightning in the mesosphere of the Earth, i.e. the very high upper atmosphere, about 50km up. This is the first time one has been imaged from Ireland. They are 'bolts' of plasma, very brief but not as quick as a lightning flash, and they seem to be sometimes triggered by thunderstorm activity far below them. This one was of the type known as a 'carrot', because of the shape and orange colour. It seems to have occurred over a thunderstorm in the Dublin area. See www.arm.ac.uk for more details. The BBC rang me at 07.20 the next morning to do an interview about it - that's a story in itself, which I won't detail here! (Radio Ulster, at about 07.27, on 1 August)
6. IAA member Dr Kate Russo honoured by her University. Eclipse-chaser Kate, who has written a book and given a talk to the IAA on the subject, has posted as follows "I'm absolutely delighted to share my fabulous news - I have been awarded a James Cook University Outstanding Alumni Award. (insert much fanfare and clapping here). It is such an honour to receive this award, and it was so great to be able to return back to North Queensland to attend the award ceremony. I really like that you can just do what you love to do, and every once in a while you get a little pat on the back for your efforts. It was a great morning - photos to come." Congratulations from us all to Kate!
8. Guide to Resources for Teaching about Exoplanets. A new annotated guide to written, web, and audio-visual resources for teaching about planets orbiting other stars is now available for high-school and college instructors, their students, informal educators, and astronomy enthusiasts. Materials in the guide to this rapidly-changing branch of astronomy include video and audio files of lectures and interviews with leading scientists in the field, phone and tablet apps, a citizen-science website, popular-level books and articles, and much more. Published by the NASA Astrophysics Education and Outreach Forum and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the guide can be found as a PDF file at: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/astronomy-resource-guides/the-search-for-planets-around-other-stars/
9. UNAWE Universe in a Box DIY Guide. Do it Yourself Universe in a Box: For personal, non-commercial use, UNAWE also offers the possibility to build your own Universe in a Box. Please download the DIY guide and source files from http://unawe.org/resources/guides/universeinaboxdiyguide/
EPSC is the major European meeting on planetary science and is expected to attract more than 800 scientists from Europe and around the World. The 2013 programme will include around 75 sessions and workshops. More than 1100 abstracts for oral presentations and posters have been submitted. Topics to be discussed will cover the range of planetary science, including comets on the eve of the Rosetta mission, the exceptional fireball over Chelyabinsk, direct imaging of exoplanets, and how planetary science will be affected by the NewSpace entrepreneurs. For the first time, EPSC will include an industry-themed day on Wednesday 11 September; speakers will include Alvaro Giménez, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency.
To complement the scientific programme, there will be a festival of planetary-related public events held across London, organised by partner institutions including UCL, the Bloomsbury Theatre, the British Interplanetary Society, the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the Natural History Museum and Royal Astronomical Society. Events will include a special film showing of 'The Day the Earth Caught Fire', an exhibition and art installations at UCL, an observing night in Regent's Park and a 'Science Show-off' variety event at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Details can be found at: http://www.europlanet-eu.org/epsc2013. Further information will be circulated a few weeks before the meeting.
EPSC has a distinctively interactive style, with a mix of talks, workshops and posters, intended to provide a stimulating environment for discussion. EPSC 2013 is organised by Europlanet, UCL and Copernicus Meetings. The event is sponsored by the UK Space Agency, UCL, Astrium and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.
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. You can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button. See also www.irishastro.org.