Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Lectures, Meteorites, Galileo, AP Open Night, ISON, Astrocamp, Orrery, Andromeda

Hi all,

1. IAA LECTURE, 30 October. Dr Andy McCrea, IAA. " Aurorae and Astronauts".
Well known amateur astronomer, astro-imager, past IAA President, and
proprietor of North Down Telescopes, Dr Andy McCrea will give the next
lecture, based on his recent highly successful aurora hunting trip to
Iceland, and his similarly successful astronaut-hunting exploits (only
with cameras & an autograph book!). Andy will reveal all about
aurorae, what causes them, where and how to see them and image them.
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. ULSTER MUSEUM's METEORITE DAY: Sat 2 November, 13.00 - 16.00 Your
chance to learn about rocks from space, and handle several examples.
See the largest meteorite ever known to fall in the UK or Ireland, and
a piece of the recent Russian Fireball Chelyabinsk meteorite. See

3. "The Life of Galileo" -- November 8th to 10th, at 7:30pm. As part
of the lead up to Science Week, Brecht's "The Life of Galileo" will be
staged by the Greenwood Theatre Company in Dunsink Observatory in a
specially adapted version by David Hare. As the observatory is over
200 years old, it seems like the perfect venue in which to set the
play. Most of the performance will be staged in the Meridian Room
where "Dublin Time" was kept but the audience will have the chance to
move into the South Dome (with its large Victorian Grubb Telescope)
and the Solar System Room for a number of scenes. Seating is very
limited for the 3 performances and tickets (15 euro) can be booked
through the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies website
by following the links to the "The Life of Galileo". See for details.


5. RIA LECTURE, CORK, 12 November: The RIA's biennial McCrea lecture
will hosted by UCC on 12 November. Venue: G10 Lecture Theatre,
Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College Cork. Date:
Tuesday 12 November 2013, 6 pm.
Royal Irish Academy and University College Cork Biennial McCrea
Astronomy Lecture for Science Week 2013: Are the Laws of Physics
Changing? by Professor John D Barrow FRS, University of Cambridge
Abstract: Astronomers have investigated whether the laws and constants
of physics are the same today as they were billions of years ago. We
will look at what these high-precision observations have been telling
us and see why many physicists believe that the laws of physics may be
different elsewhere in the Universe.
Biography: John D Barrow is an English cosmologist, theoretical
physicist and mathematician. He is currently Research Professor of
Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He was elected
as a Fellow to the Royal Society in 2003 and was awarded the Faraday
Medal and Prize in 2008. He is Director of the Millennium Mathematics
Project. See:

6. COMET ISON - PHOTO COMPETITION: Now brightening significantly; the
comet is now up to about mag 10, moving from Leo towards Virgo.
There's now a major photo competition for amateurs: see
The latest images are posted at and a recent update on the
comet's status can be found here:
More information on the Comet ISON Observation Campaign website at
Also see:,
and for a bit of fun:
ISON = NIBIRU? Indeed, as I predicted when ISON was first discovered,
there's now the usual nonsense on the Web about it being the new
'Nibiru', since Comet Elenin wasn't! See for example:
Also, and just as weird -
A bright comet in year 2013? -- Comet ISON -- an Astrology, New Age
and Bible Prophecy analysis
This rivals the Nibiru doom-mongers for being nothing but complete and
utter rubbish. Read it at your peril - you will laugh so hard that it

7. The website for the new Space Science Technology qualification
being piloted in Northern Ireland is now live at:
Support materials are in the pipeline. (Per Robert Hill, who is
driving this welcome initiative.)

8. European Southern Observatory Astronomy Camp (Italy)

The first ESO Astronomy Camp will take place from 26 - 31 December
2013 at the Astronomical Observatory of the Aosta Valley, located in
Saint-Barthelemy, Nus, Italy. The camp will explore the theme of the
visible and the invisible Universe through lectures, hands-on
activities, and nighttime observations with the telescopes and
instruments at the observatory. Social activities, winter sports, and
excursions will contribute to making the camp a memorable experience
for the participants. ESO will be responsible for the scientific
programme for the ESO Astronomy Camp, and will, together with other
partners, provide lecturers and material. The camp will be available
for a maximum of 55 secondary school students aged between 16 and 18
years old. More information at:

9. EAAE Winter School 2013 (Finland)

The Winter School will be organized by the EAAE-WG3 in Enontekiö,
Finland from the 28th to the 30th December 2013. This Winter School is
open to all teachers who work in primary and secondary schools in
European countries. The School will be held next December in Finland
(Lapland). The registration fee is 50 Euros. During the Winter School
teachers will attend general lectures, workshops and daily
observational sessions. Participants should wrap up warm during these
sessions because of the cold weather. Note that although Sun never
rises and daylight of dawn is only seen for a very short period at
this time of the year in Enontekio, observation sessions can only be
held during the Winter School if weather conditions are good.
Instructors at the Winter School will be members of EAAE-WG3, and they
come from different countries in Europe. The theme of this Winter
School is Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. Professor Rosa Maria
Ros ( is the Chairperson of EAAE-WG3 and should be
contacted for any further inquiries.

10. Armagh Observatory "Human Orrery" Goes Global

From the Director, Professor Mark Bailey (edited from IAU Newsletter):

The Armagh Human Orrery is the first large-scale outdoor exhibit to
show with precision on the ground the positions of the main planets, a
dwarf planet and two comets. It is an innovative education and
learning tool designed to explain the motion of the planets around the
Sun and the changing position of Earth relative to those planets as it
too revolves around the Sun every year.

Launched at the Observatory nearly nine years ago, the model is fun
to use, entertaining and participative. The model has now been
reproduced at a number of locations, notably at the Kings School,
Peterborough, and at Christ the Redeemer Primary School, Belfast, and
most recently at the Eureka High School, Nepaltar, Kathmandu, Nepal.

For full details of the Armagh Human Orrery, see For a summary review of the Human
Orrery and the background to the model, see:;
and for an example of a novel portable human orrery, see: For
further images, follow:

11. The Andromeda Project is Back!

From Rob and the Zooniverse Team: Last year we launched the Andromeda
Project ( and asked the public to
help us locate star clusters in our nearest neighbouring galaxy:
Andromeda (M31). The project was a phenomenal success and in less than
three weeks volunteers had classified more than a million images.
Today we're releasing a whole new batch of data into the Andromeda
Project and we're calling this Round 2.

The data you will see are amazingly detailed images from the Hubble
Space Telescope, which has peered deep into Andromeda as part of the
PHAT survey. The aim of the Andromeda Project is to the locate all the
star clusters and background galaxies found in PHAT and to build up
the most complete map of any spiral galaxy anywhere. This is amazing
science that can only be done with the help of citizen scientists.

12. STARGAZING LIVE returns on 7 - 9 January 2014, at Cultra. The IAA
has once again been asked to be principal partner with the BBC for
this prestigious event. The main local event will be at the Ulster
Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. More details later, but mark your
diaries now. (I'm going to a planning meeting with the BBC and the
Cultra people tomorrow, so I'll update after that.)

13. INTERESTING WEBLINKS:^headlines^headlines^headlines
(Sorry folks - but No!) (and how
did it get to Mars?)

14. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro

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Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

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