Monday, 21 October 2013

Lectures, Orionids, Meterorites, Fireballs, ISS, ISON, KillerAsteroid? CERN, etc

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. ORIONID METEORS PEAK TONIGHT: The Earth is passing through a stream of
debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. The
shower should peak on the night of Oct. 21 with a ZHR of approximately 20
meteors per hour. But the bright moon in nearby Taurus will reduce the
number seen to only about 60% od that rate. The best time to look is during
the hours before local sunrise when the shower's radiant in the
constellation Orion is high in the sky. The radiant is in the NE corner of
Orion, not far from the 'feet' of Gemini.

3. Irish Astronomical Society talk on October 21st: Dr Masha Chernyakova
(DCU) will give a talk entitled "Puzzling Gamma-Ray Binaries: Theory and
Observation". See for details.

4. 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

Can anyone comment on the fourth image in this article, by Byron
Griffiths - why is the trail interrupted? There doesn't seem to be any sign
of cloud there. There might be something very thin, but in that case the
bright fireball should still be visible, even faintly, through it. In fact,
you CAN see the trail even where it passes through a band of thicker cloud
lower down (or maybe it's just 'bleeding' across the pixels).
This is only my speculation, and from a limited knowledge of the
science, but to try to explain the gap in the trail -
* A meteor's visible trail is due to ionisation of the air molecules, and
* An aurora is caused by ionisation of the air molecules.
So could the gap in the trail be due to the bolide passing through a layer
of the atmosphere where it was already ionised, and no further ionisation
was possible?

6. ISS: the ISS continues a series of evening passes over Ireland. For
details for your location, see:

7. COMET ISON - LATEST: Now brightening significantly; it's now up to about
mag 10, so there is still hope.^headlines
and for a bit of fun: 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

8. ANOTHER KILLER ASTEROID? Well, no, it won't be. The chances of a
collision are estimated at 1:63,000. But even if later observations indicate
that it would hit Earth, we'll have tome to deflect it. Still, it shows that
there are still dangerous ones out there, and if one was on a collision
course with only a few years warning, we might not be able to deflect it in
(ignore the fact that the image is of a comet!)

9. 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 for details.

10. "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.

11. 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
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:

12. 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.)

13. 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. Guy Hurst, Editor of "The Astronomer magazine" UK: "The Glory of Globular
Star Clusters"
2. Dr Matt Redman, Director of Centre for Astronomy, NUI Galway: "Star
formation and Star Destruction"
3. Dr Deirdre Coffey, UCD: "Exploring the Universe: The View from Hubble
and Beyond"
4. Tom O'Donaghue: "Cosmic Vistas: The Universe in Colour"
5. 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"
7. Paul Byrne: "Binary Stars: Double Your Pleasure - Two's Company, Three's
A Triple System"
8. Brian MacGabhann, "Building a DIY solar filter for observing our nearest
Star" (Talking through building a solar filter for a refractor, reflector or
SCT, with a complete demo and examples of the finished product).
Astrofest dinner 7.30 pm - Price (€25)
The Sir Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture: Guy Hurst: "The Astronomer: The
First 50 years" celebrating their Golden Jubilee 1964-201
Since 'The Astronomer' was formed in 1964, there have been a remarkable
series of achievements which have been published in the magazine and these
highlights are given in this talk. As editor since 1975, Guy describes how
it feels to be in 'the hot seat' when checking and hopefully confirming the
many discoveries reported to TAHQ! The liaison with professionals at the
Central Bureau (USA) remains a vital service by TA to filter out false

"The GAIA space mission and the origins of the Milky Way".
Prof Gerry Gilmore from Cambridge will give the next Michael West lecture
at QUB, as a joint event between QUB and the IAA. Prof Gilmore is a lading
researcher on the GAIA mission, due to launch 20th November, and an
excellent speaker, so mark your diaries now!

15. 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. See:^headlines

(It doesn't specifically say so, but such a flight would probably take you
into space, or at least very near it. TM)
(I thought that this could only happen in the USA. But evidently the
Russians are just as susceptible....)^headlines
Now YOU can cruise around the Milky Way: Amazing interactive space map lets
users navigate the galaxy in incredible detail | .

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

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Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

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