Monday, 9 December 2013

Major Lecture News! Galway talk, Solstice @ NIEA (+ brief recap on other items)

Hi all,

1. IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION: Famous TV Space Expert to lecture
in Belfast on Wednesday 11 December.

Leo Enright: "Making History: a guide to the next four days, as China
lands on the Moon".

China has announced major plans for a lunar base and further
exploration of the Moon. Right now, their advanced Lunar Rover is on
its way there, due to land on Saturday.

The Irish Astronomical Association is delighted to announced that
renowned space expert, writer and broadcaster, Leo Enright, will give
a special public lecture in Queen's University on Wednesday 11

Leo is well known as an expert on all matters relating to space, with
extensive contacts will all the big national space agencies, and is
equally well-known for his inimitable lecturing style.

Leo Enright will take us step by step through the historic landing of
China's moon rover (Yutu, or Jade Rabbit) - the first soft-landing on
the Moon in almost 40 years. He will reveal the likely landing site
and take us minute-by-minute through the landing sequence, which is to
culminate in a touchdown at 15:35 on Saturday next, December 14th.

This lecture will be the most comprehensive briefing yet offered to a
public audience anywhere. The lecture is in the Bell Lecture Theatre,
Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, but
this talk is sure to be very popular, so come early. Everyone is

Date and time: Wed 11 December, 7.30 p.m.
Venue: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB
Admission: Free, including light refreshments afterwards

Leo Enright has been writing, lecturing and broadcasting about space
exploration for almost 5 decades. He is a regular contributor to RTE,
BBC, UTV, and all the major and local radio stations throughout the
island of Ireland, and further afield. He is a member of the Royal
Irish Academy.
(This lecture replaces the one on the IAA programme, as Dr Maund has
had to cancel at the last minute.)
Thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for help in hosting
these lectures.

VENUS: Visible in Evening Sky: Venus is now at about its easiest to
see from Ireland for this elongation. It's slowly getting 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'.

3. GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field
on Dec. 7th, sparking an unexpected geomagnetic storm and Northern
Lights over numerous US states. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35%
chance of additional storms on Dec. 8th and 9th. Auroras alerts are
available from (text) and (voice).

4. ECLIPSE BOOK LAUNCH: IAA Member Dr Kate Russo has just had her
second eclipse book published! See:

5. Book Launch: Armagh Public Library, 7.30pm, 11 December: "A Mystic
Dream of 4"
The Armagh Observatory and Armagh Public Library are co-hosting
the launch of a new book "A Mystic Dream of 4" by Professor Iggy
McGovern, in the Armagh Public Library, 43 Abbey Street, Armagh.
For further information, please contact the Armagh Public Library by E-mail
at or by telephone at 028-3752-3142.

6. ISS Evening Passes. The International Space Station will commence a
new series of evening passes over Ireland on Dec 11: Details on

7. GEMINIDS: The Geminids, the year's richest annual meteor shower,
will peak on Dec 13-14, but starts to become active about 8-9 Dec.
Oddly, the orbit of the meteors was found to coincide with that of
asteroid 3200 Phaethon, rather than a comet as in the case of other
meteor showers. Now the mystery unfolds a bit more: "Asteroid comet"
3200 Phaethon has sprouted a tail, confirming that the mysterious
object is indeed the source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. See:
and: More details on the
shower next time.

8. MYSTERY OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR, Armagh Planetarium: Monday – Friday
at 2pm, Saturday at 12 noon, 2 pm and 4 pm
Evening shows every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3-19 December
at 7:30pm. For more information on show times please visit the website
at Tel - 028 3752 3689

9. Special Christmas Talk on Comets hosted by the Galway Astronomy
Club and NUIG Astronomy Society, 17 th of December. Dr Jacqueline
Keane will give a special Christmas talk entitled "2013: The Year of
the Long-haired Stars". The talk will take place in IT 250, IT
Building, NUI Galway at 7.30pm.
In ancient times, "long-haired stars" inspired terror because of
their sudden appearance, potentially great brightness, and large
tails. Comets, long considered harbingers of doom, have been blamed
for some of history's darkest times. About once a decade, a truly
spectacular comet is visible even through the bright city lights. In
2013, it was predicted that we would see two "great" comets of the
century, L4-PANSTARRS and ISON. Though these two comets did not
disappoint scientists, they were not as bright as first predicted and
were not visible to the general public. But what makes a comet "great"
anyway? Come along and find out. This public talk will discuss what
comets are and how comets help us understand the formation of the
Solar System. A summary of the exciting world-wide Comet ISON
observing campaign will be presented, with a special focus on the
University of Hawaii campaign using numerous 10-meter telescopes at
14000 feet on the summit of Mauna Kea. The prospects of viewing comets
in 2014 will also be discussed.
Jacqueline Keane is an assistant astronomer at the University of
Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. After studying for a B.Sc. in Physics
and a Masters in Astronomy at the NUIG, Jacqueline earned a PhD in
Astrophysics at Groningen University (the Netherlands) working with
Infrared Space Observatory observations of interstellar ice features
and their formation via grain-surface reactions. After her PhD,
Jacqueline moved to California to work at the NASA Ames Research
Center where her work concentrated on understanding the composition of
cold material in star-forming molecular clouds using the Spitzer
space-based telescope. Jacqueline currently specialises in
ground-based observations of comets and how they can be used to
understand the conditions in the early Solar System.

10. NIEA SOLSTICE EVENT: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency will
hold this year's traditional Winter Solstice Event on Fri 20 December,
from 1.00 - 2.00 p.m., at Waterman house, 5b - 33 Hill St, Belfast,
BT1 2LA.
A talk entitled "Marking Time Through The Millennia" will be given by
Lynne Williams and Boyd Rankin of Irish Arms. This illustrated talk
will look at how astronomical events such as solstices and equinoxes
were a vital part of the agricultural year. Were stone circles and
alignments built as calendars as well as ritual places?
Admission Free, including Seasonal refreshments.

11. 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 are finalising arrangements with them.

12. 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: <>

13. 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.

A possible explanation that occurs to me - two young/proto stars
passed so close to each other when their protoplanetary discs were
still forming that the discs interacted, causing a large accumulation
of matter in the outer part of the more massive disc. When the other
less massive star moved on out of range, the large clump left behind
formed this planet.
(it's time we had at least one of these here, both North and South!)^headlines

15. 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. More details later, but mark
your diaries now.
Check the `Seeing the Universe in All its Light' webpage

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

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

Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

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