Sunday, 29 December 2013

IAA NY Party film, Lectures, ISS fixed, Solstice at Newgrange, Other events

Hi all,
1. IAA's New Year Party 4 January: The film for the IAA New Year Party on 4 January is now confirmed as "Wall-E". It's 98mins long, and suitable for all. 
   The posting of the booking forms for this event has been delayed by factors outside our control. To book for this event, use the (attached) form which is available on the website. It is probably now too late for payment sent by post to be received in time, so to make sure that your booking is received promptly, please contact our Treasurer: Mrs Josephine Magill, Tel (+44) (0) 2890 849653; E: to make sure that your payment is received in time.
   EVENT DETAILS: It's the usual popular and successful format: We meet at 5.30 for 6.00 for a meal at McBride's restaurant, The Square, Comber, Co Down for a buffet meal, then we go to the nearby Tudor Private Cinema for a private showing of the SF film "Wall-E", along with seasonal refreshments.  Cost: £15 for adults, £7.00 for children.  For those who can't go to the meal, the cost for the film and the refreshments at the Tudor cinema is £7 for adults and £3.50 for children; that kicks off at 7.30 p.m.
   Places must be pre-booked, as we need to know how many will be coming. 
2. PERIHELION: 4 January is also the day when the Earth will be closest to the Sun for the year. It occurs at 11h 58m, when the distance will be 0.9833347 AU. At that distance, its light takes only 8m 10.7s to reach us. (It takes almost 17 seconds longer at aphelion, in July!) 
3. IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION: Public Lecture, Jan 8: "How to Blow Up A Star - Understanding Supernovae", by Dr Stuart Sim, of the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB.
   Supernovae are just about the biggest explosions in the universe, and certainly the biggest that we are ever likely to see. Not only that, but they create all the elements above iron in the periodic table, many of which, such as nickel, zinc, selenium, and iodine, are essential for human life. They are also the key element in the 'distance ladder' used in large scale astrophysics and cosmology, as they are used to measure the distance to distant galaxies and galaxy clusters.
   And it's from studying distant supernovae that scientists now believe that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, leading to the theory of 'dark energy'. In other words, it's hard to think of any other single phenomena that's more important in modern astrophysics and cosmology.
   So this lecture will be a fascinating account of one of the cutting edge areas of modern astronomy.
     The lecture is free and open to all, including free refreshments. Venue: 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.
VENUS: Visible in Evening Sky: Venus will soon have passed the aspect where its easiest to see from Ireland for this elongation.  It's now a bit higher in the evening twilight sky, but is gradually getting closer to the Sun. So it's a trade-off between altitude and its decreasing solar elongation. Look low down in the bright SW evening twilight for a bright twinkling 'star'.
5. Newgrange Winter Solstice success: Clear skies gave good views on Dec 21 & 22. Some nice photos here by Bru na Boinne Manager, Clare Tuffy:
6. ISS Evening Passes. The International Space Station continues its series of evening passes over Ireland for a few more days. There's quite a good one just after 5 p.m. on Xmas Day, if you want an excuse to go outside and clear your head! Details on
8. 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. Mark your diaries now. The IAA has now formally presented its programme for the events to the BBC, and we have agreed arrangements with them.
  If anyone would like to volunteer to help out at this event, and can bring a telescope etc, please let me know by return, unless you have already done so.

9. TYRONE ASTRONOMY EVENT, Stewartstown, 10 January"Journey through Space" will be held in St Patrick's Church, Ballyclog, 125 Coagh Road, Stewartstown, Co Tyrone. Dr Patrick Harkness is an IAA member who lecturers in Space Systems at the Univ. of Glasgow. The central theme of his talk is "Gravity" and it will be accessible rocket science. We are trying to stimulate interest in science and technology in the local community. Details and booking at: <>

10. GALWAY ASTROFEST: Full details of our Astronomy Festival is now available at
   There will also be a special stand, Apogee Imaging Instruments coming over from California who will be represented by Tim Puckett, an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer with over 30 years experience. Experienced in the field of amateur CCD (digital) astro-imaging, Puckett has operated numerous CCD cameras since 1989. He has built several robotic telescopes and is currently operating an automated supernova search patrol and comet astrometry program which uses 60-cm and 35-cm telescopes.
  Puckett's photos of comets and deep-sky objects have been published in books and magazines in several countries, including Great Britain, Japan, Italy, Germany, Australia and South Africa. His work has also been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, BBC, The Discovery and Learning Channels and Good Morning America. Puckett has been the Astronomy Sales Engineer for Apogee Instruments since May 2006.
  We hope to change things around and maybe line him up for either a talk or workshop
11. Advance Notice: Trip to Newgrange: Mar 29, 2014: 09.30 – 17.00: I will be leading an astronomy /archaeoastronomy trip to Newgrange, as part of the Stranmillis Adult Learning programme. A day long coach trip, with full commentary. Demand for this is already high, so book now if you are interested. There is a maximum number allowed on the trip, due to space restrictions within the Newgrange Mound. Booking is through Stranmillis College.
12. Advance Notice: Major Astronomy Conference in Galway;  Speed and Sensitivity, Expanding Astronomical Horizons with ELTs. NUI, Galway, 13-16 May 2014 Led by Prof Andy Shearer: this will be a fascinating look at the future of astronomy as offered by Extremely Large Telescopes, and ever increasingly sensitive detectors. See or
13. Advance Notice: STFC Roadshow at QUB, 19 - 25 May. The roadshow, entitled "Seeing the Universe in all its light" features stunning science images and interactive exhibits,   Check the `Seeing the Universe in All its Light' webpage 
15. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro

16. 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
Finally, may I AGAIN wish you all a very Merry Xmas, Happy Holiday, Super Solstice Season, Fabulous Festival, Cool Yule, Wonderful Winterval, or whichever particular Seasonal Greeting you prefer.
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

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