Friday, 30 August 2013

Nova brite, Obs Please!, PM Event, Ast Cours, ISON, MAVEN, TV, MC Photo, BluMoon

Hi all,
1. The Nova in Delphinus has brightened since discovery!
 Just below naked-eye visibility when discovered, latest reports put it at around mag 4.5 - 5.0: just visible to the human eye in fair conditions. It may brighten further, though it's more likely that it will be starting to fade a bit.
   A nova is not a 'new' star, as the name would imply: it's just a faint star (almost always a member of a close binary pair) which undergoes an explosion (putting it simply) which increases its brightness by about 8 - 10 magnitudes, or about a factor of 2,000 to 10,000 times brighter. See
   It's in the NW corner of the small but conspicuous constellation Delphinus, near its borders with Vulpecula and Sagitta. 
    The position is 20h 23m 30.7s; +20d 46m 04.1s. An image by Itagaki can be found at: You'll really need a star chart to locate it (I can email one on request), but if you extend the line from Delta through Alpha Del for about 5 times its own length that will take you very close to it. Also see:
2. ASTRONOMY COURSES RESUME AT STRANMILLIS. Due to popular demand (yes, really!), my astronomy courses at Stranmillis are to be continued this autumn. The new series will build on what the last course covered, but with a more practical content, including on-site observing where possible. It's not necessary for anyone to have attended the first course, as no (or very little) prior knowledge will be assumed.
   The course will run for 10 weeks on Tuesday evenings, starting on 10 September, with a break on 29 October, resuming on 5 November, and finishing on 19 November.
 For details see the Stranmillis Lifelong Learning section website,396223,en.pdf, go to p 23 for my course.
You can download an enrolment form at,231524,en.pdf
Please pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested. 
IMPORTANT: Dr Pedro Lacerda of the Astrophysics Dept at QUB has asked me if any IAA members (or others), would be able to help with an important observation on Sep 15, at about 20.12 UT (21.12 BST). 
   2005 UQ513 is an Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Object that is predicted to pass in front of a 14th mag star, and so occult it. The magnitude of 2005 UQ513 is about 21, so in effect the star will disappear from any location along the actual occultation track, unless the star is an undetected double star: in that case if only one component is occulted, the other star may remain visible, depending on its brightness.
   The predicted occultation track (which may be slightly in error) passes right over Ireland, and in fact Ireland and Scotland are the best placed countries in the world to observe this event!
   Observing the duration of this event can give accurate information about the size and shape of the object. We need at least 10-second time sampling to get good ingress and egress times. 
    Ideally, if we could get someone in the Northern end of the island and someone else in the S end that would be even better because we'd get more chords sampling the shape of the EKBO.
   The details of the predicted event are at
I know that there are some amateurs (and professionals) in Ireland who have suitable equipment to attempt this observation, which could yield some very useful information not obtainable in any other way. Of course, even negative observations are valuable, as they constrain the maximum size of the object.
   The star is at: RA: 00h 30m 11.89s; Dec: + 30deg 37' 23.801". (That's near Delta Andromedae)
   If you would like to have a go, please report directly to Pedro at, copy to me, so I know what's happening.

4. Patrick Moore Event, Leicester:
On 28 September 2013 the Royal Astronomical Society, in collaboration with the National Space Centre, will be holding an event to commemorate Sir Patrick Moore and celebrate his life and legacy. The event will be held at the National Space Centre, Leicester, and tickets (which must be booked in advance) will cost £25.
Further details, along with a booking link, may be found at:

5. COMET ISON - LATEST: This much-anticipated comet has now been observed after its re-appearance after 'conjunction' with the Sun. Early indications are that it has not brightened as much as expected in the interval. But as it is just crossing the 'snow/frost line', where water ices should start to sublimate, creating more of a coma and tail and increasing the brightness, it may be just a 'late developer'. We will just have to wait a bit longer to see. It will be best seen from Ireland in late November, and in early December if it survives its extremely close passage round the Sun.
6. Send your name to Mars on MAVEN: Deadline September 10th 2013. Everybody is welcome to participate! However, to create a log-in you must be 18 or older. If you are under 18 and you would like to enter, please ask your parent or teacher for help. Your name will be written to a DVD and sent into Mars orbit on the MAVEN spacecraft. See:
7: TV PROGRAMME: "METEORITE MEN": The current series is on Discovery Science channel on Friday evenings and repeated various other times) and is excellent entertainment. (per Tony Drennan)

8. MARTIN CAMPBELL PHOTO SHORTLISTED: IAA member Martin, whose photos feature regularly in Stardust and the IAA website, has one of his photos shortlisted in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition 2013. This is the third year out of four that his images have been shortlisted. Congratulations to Martin, and good luck in the competition.

9. EVENTS AT ARMAGH PLANETARIUM: See The Emerald Garrison's amazing Heroes & Legends event is coming back to Armagh Planetarium on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August 2013.
10. EVENTS AT BLACKROCK CASTLE OBSERVATORY: for details of the latest events at Blackrock Castle Observatory, including how to use the remotely controlled TARA telescope.
11. PICS FOR NEW IAA WEBSITE PHOTO GALLERY. President and webmaster Paul Evans has produced an excellent new photo gallery on the updated IAA website. See  We would love to have any photos from members showing past IAA events and activities for a "Pics from the Archive" section. Credits will be given to respective owners of course. 

12. NOT Another BLUE MOON! I'm sorry to see that this nonsense is still being peddled by otherwise reputable sites: 
   What's special about the 3rd Full Moon in a season with four full Moons? Would the 4th FM be not even more special? (Answer - actually, no!) What colour is the 4th FM?? What about the 1st & 2nd FMs?
    And anyway, why should the rest of the world follow some obscure folklore from the Maine Farmer's Almanac? This is just more Blue Moon nonsense!
   If you look at that Full Moon it appears just the same as any other FM. And the photos are just the same as any other FM too. This is prostituting science. The danger is that uninformed members of the public will look at such a 'Blue Moon' and think 'Eh? What's all the fuss about? - all this skywatching is just rubbish'.
14. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro

15. NEW LINK! 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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