1. IAA LECTURE, 16 October. Dr Deirdre Coffey, UCD. "Exploring the
Cosmos: the View from Hubble and Beyond".
The iconic Hubble Space Telescope has pushed the frontiers of
astronomical knowledge further outwards in many different fields, as
well as giving us some of the most stunning views of our amazing
universe ever seen. But a much more powerful telescope is planned to
replace it - the James Webb Space Telescope. In this talk, Dr Coffey
will outline some of the major achievements of the HST, and look
forward to the JWST, and other important new instruments.
The lecture is free and open to all, including free refreshments.
It will be held in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's
University, Belfast, at 7.30 p.m.
Thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for help in
hosting these lectures.
2. IAA Display at Belfast Central Library: Saturday 12 October.
To mark the 125th anniversary of the Library, and World Space Week:
the Irish Astronomical Association will be holding another of their
very popular public astronomy events, at Belfast's main library, on
Saturday afternoon, 12 October from 1.30 to 4.00p.m. We'll have an
amazing exhibition, including fantastic space photos, various
astronomical telescopes, meteorites, and a mobile stardome planetarium
(with thanks to Armagh Planetarium). Depending on availability of a
suitable site, we will also use a selection of special telescopes for
viewing the Sun in a variety of types of light in complete safety
(weather permitting). And the event is totally free!
If it's clear, you will be able to see giant sunspots which are
larger than the Earth, huge flares of incredibly hot gas shooting off
the Sun's surface, and other amazing detail on its surface.
And the first person from Ireland who has booked to go into space,
IAA member Derek Heatly from Groomsport, will be there to talk about
his preliminary training flights, and what his actual flight with
Virgin Galactic will be like.
People will also be able to touch and hold genuine meteorites,
pieces of rock that have come from outer space. These are about 4,600
million years old - the oldest things you will ever see in your life!
These are always very popular events, and it's a central location
with easy access by public transport.
For more details see: www.irishastro.org
Thanks to Armagh Planetarium for loan of the Stardome.
3. SUNDIVING COMET: A comet is falling into the sun today. Images from
the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory show a bright comet rapidly
evaporating as the sun turns up the heat, and it may be only hours
away from complete disintegration. Check http://spaceweather.com for
images of the death plunge.
4. Armagh Planetarium
(1) Math 'a' Magic; Saturday 12 October 2013
Who says that maths is boring? Join us as we discover the magic and
mystery of maths. Capturing the imagination of children and adults
alike, the math 'a' magicians from Cahoots will demonstrate the power
of mathematics through illusion, misdirection and even mind reading on
Saturday 12 October!
This is an unforgettable learning experience that will blow your mind!
Ages: 7 – 13, Duration: 1 hour, Times: 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
Tickets are free but spaces are limited so please pre-book on 028 37523689.
(2) Planetarium Open Night, Tuesday 15 October
Armagh Planetarium will be hosting a public telescope viewing session
as part of our programme of FREE Open Nights starting on Tuesday 15
October 2013. On this evening night sky observation is hoped to take
place (weather permitting) from 7pm-9pm.
At 7.30pm there is also an opportunity to see the stars whatever
the weather in our Digital Theatre show 'Beyond the Blue'. If you
already have a telescope or binoculars you are welcome to bring them
with you for your own use. Dressing warmly is essential for outdoor
Times: Open 7pm-9pm, Digital Theatre Show: 7.30pm
TEL: 028 37523689. Pre-booking essential
5. RAeS Lecture, by Robert Hill. Room 02/026, Peter Froggatt Centre,
QUB, on Thursday 17th Oct. Developing The Final Frontier: the Space
All are very welcome to attend this free lecture, being presented
by Robert Hill from Armagh Planetarium. Robert is the Director of the
Northern Ireland Space Office, and an amazing speaker. The Peter
Froggett Centre is on the N side of the main campus, and adjoins
University Square. The lecture is due to commence at 7 PM, with
refreshments available from 6:30 PM
6. NEXT SAN PROGRAMME: SKY AT NIGHT 'BRECON BEACONS' ASTRO CAMP:
Saturday 12 Oct. BBC 2 (repeat)
7: TV - HORIZON: Thursday, 17 Oct. BBC4 8.0 - 9.00pm. "The Horizon
Guide to Mars" Dr. Kevin Fong draws on 45 yrs. of footage from the
Horizon archives. (Thanks to Peter Paice for the alerts)
8. PRESERVING THE SKY AT NIGHT (Letter in next Radio Times: passed on
by Peter Millar):
LETTER OF THE WEEK
I'm an assistant at the Hampstead Observatory in north London. Ten
years ago we used to get 90 or so visitors per year - now we get that
in one night! Most of these people found out about us as a result of
The Sky at Night filming here. Everyone involved in the observatory
grew up with this show and became passionate about astronomy as a
The Sky at Night needs to be on more often, earlier, longer and with a
serious budget. Stargazing Live is only on once a year and Horizon
only covers astronomy from time to time. The public has a thirst for
this subject. Our visitors are from every age group and there's a
50-50 gender split. They aren't geeks and old men but everyday folk.
This audience has a right to find out more and the BBC has a duty to
provide them with that knowledge. The Sky at Night has the history,
reputation and the team to deliver that, so please give them the tools
and let them do it! Kevin McNulty London NW3
A petition urging the BBC not to axe The Sky at Night has already
collected 30,000 signatures. The BBC says: "Sky at Night is on air
until the end of the year. Plans for subsequent series are being
9. Galway Star Party. 1 February 2014.
"City of Stars" is the theme for the 2014 Galway Astronomy Festival
which takes place on February 1st at the Westwood House Hotel with an
emphasis on how exploration of the Cosmos has inspired communities and
cultures in our city that would not otherwise do so, to think about
the Universe. From its humble beginnings in January 2004 to the
present day our Astronomy Festival has become Ireland's biggest annual
gathering of amateur astronomers who come here from around the country
to meet in friendship and to exchange information, successful
stargazing and mutual progress.
The event will follow the same format as last year with six talks
split into two sessions in the morning and evening. A new lunchtime
interlude with two mini observing workshops and in the late evening we
present the new Sir Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture.
1. Dr Deirdre Coffey, UCD. title tba
2. Dr Matt Redman, Director of Centre for Astronomy, NUI Galway: "Star
formation and Star Destruction"
3. Guy Hurst, Editor of "The Astronomer magazine" UK: "The Glory of
Globular Star Clusters"
4. Tom O'Donaghue: "Cosmic Vistas: The Universe in Colour"
5. Professor Paul Mohr: "The genius of the Greek naked-eye
astronomers: Measuring the Cosmos with dioptra and trigonometry"
6. Michael O'Connell: "From the Big Dipper to the Southern Cross:
Observing the southern sky Down Under"
2 x 25 min workshops: Paul Byrne IFAS: "Double Stars: Celestial Couples"
2nd workshop TBC
Paul Mohr is provisionally launching his new book about Greek
Astronomy for the amateur astronomer
Tom will exhibit his photos
Paul Byrne is a double star enthusiast from Dublin
The Sir Patrick Moore Memorial Talk: Guy Hurst: "The Astronomer: The
First 50 years" celebrating their Golden Jubilee 1964-2014
10. Martin Campbell's Photo in APOY 2013: Congrats to IAA member
Martin Campbell whose short listed entry in this year's APOY
competition features in the recently published book APOY 2013 edition.
11. COMET ISON - LATEST: Still fainter than originally predicted, but
now up to about mag 11 - 12. See:
12. ISS: the ISS has started a new series of evening passes over
Ireland. For details for your location, see: www.heavens-above.com
13. Cork Astronomy Club meeting, October 14th: "From Sputnik to the
Moon Landings: A History of the Russian Space Programme", by Con
McCarthy, Project manager for ESA's Mars Express Lander, and Systems
Engineer for Huygens and Venus Express. See
http://www.corkastronomyclub.com/ for details.
14. Irish Astronomical Society talk on October 21st: Dr Masha
Chernyakova (DCU) will give a talk entitled "Puzzling Gamma-Ray
Binaries: Theory and Observation". See http://irishastrosoc.org/wp/
15. CERN exhibition at UCD: The new Science Centre at University
College Dublin hosts an exhibition about CERN from now to Oct 28th.
The exhibition is self-guided and open to the public 9am to 9pm on
weekdays. A guided tour can be arranged with the faculty in UCD
beforehand though. See http://www.iopireland.org/events/ for details.
16. International Observe the Moon Night -- October 12th (and IAS
event on the 11th) Celebrate the beauty of our companion world in
space on October 12th by viewing the Moon through binoculars, a
telescope, or just by gazing up in wonder. See
http://observethemoonnight.org/ for more details. The Moon will be at
First Quarter and the Irish Astronomical Society will be hosting a
Sidewalk Astronomy Event on October 11th at Sandymount Tower. See
http://irishastrosoc.org/wp/ for details. (Thanks to John Flannery)
17. "The Life of Galileo" -- November 8th to 10th. Bertolt Brecht's
acclaimed play about science, religion and authority, 'The Life of
Galileo', comes to Dunsink Observatory for three nights in November,
when the play will be staged around several unique spaces, including
the 150-year-old dome with its historic telescope. See
http://www.dias.ie/index.php?lang=en for details.
18. STARGAZING LIVE returns on 7 - 9 January 2014. The IAA has once
again been asked to be principal partner with the BBC for this
prestigious event. More details later, but mark your diaries now.
19. INTERESTING WEBLINKS:
It's no wonder they brought him back!
That's not half ambitious enough. Why not do things properly - you
just have to create a new planet, of the right size, in the right
orbit, around the right star. If you've got one the size of even
Mercury to start with, all you need is to add some asteroids to
provide extra mass and minerals, some comets to bring water & thus
oxygen, and build it up to the mass where it can hold on to its
atmosphere. No problem......
But seriously, some of these fantasies, masquerading as 'science of
the future' do make me laugh. Of course the technology to do that sort
of thing may be possible in the far distant future. But in the so far
distant future that speculation is pointless, because we have no idea
what other new science and technology may emerge between now and then,
making such projects redundant. We don't know what the next few
centuries are going to bring, let alone the next few millennia. Just
think: did even the best scientific brains of the 19th century predict
nuclear power, nanotechnology, or the digital age? Or if you had asked
James Clerk Maxwell if it would ever be possible to cross the USA in
less than a day, he would probably have said 'Well, if you could build
a fast enough train and a dead straight track, with no stops ...."
These propositions are solutions to problems that may have to be
dealt with in the period at least 1,000, or probably 10,000, years in
the future, but NOT using the science and technology we know of in
20. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro
21. 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 you. You can also make a donation via Paypal if you
wish: just click on the 'Donate' button. See also www.irishastro.org.
I'm now back on Twitter (occasionally - I don't have enough time!),
after some temporary hiccups: @terrymoseley2