Thursday, 10 April 2014

AGM, great COSMOS, IFAS, ISS, Meteorite, Yuri's nite, Cork, Bangor & more events

Hi all,
1. IAA AGM: 16 April: The meeting will be followed by a 'Bring & Buy' for all your wanted, and unwanted, astronomy items such as accessories, books & memorabilia, from Altaz mounts to Zerodur mirrors. There will also be a 'Telescope Fixits' session - bring your problem telescope in and we'll try to fix it for you. See
The meeting is free and open to all, including free refreshments, but only current IAA members can take part in the official business of the AGM. Venue: the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast, at 7.30 p.m. 
2. COSMOS 2014, in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel in Athlone, was a great success, well organised, with great talks and a really good attendance. The hotel facilities and accommodation were excellent, and it took only slightly longer to get to (from most of the island) than Tullamore. The four-course dinner was excellent value at €25. We had no clear skies at nighttime, so we got no chance to evaluate the dark observing options, but some brief clear spells during the day allowed viewing of nice solar prominences.
  We had great fun with Bob 'Werner von' Campbell's amazing rocket launching machine, using water and compressed air. It surpasses anything either NASA, ESA or the Chinese can do, launching up to 3 rockets simultaneously. And if one fails to release, all you need is a hammer.... Bob is already working on some design tweaks for the next version. Next time, make your own rockets in advance using a 1.5 or 2 litre fizzy drinks bottle (it has to be that type, as they are strong enough to withstand the pressure), and bring them along for launching. I'll offer a prize for the one that goes highest or furthest.
  The dinner was followed by the Table Quiz, won by the N-S & E-W team of Patricia Carroll, John O'Neill, Sara O'Neill (from USA), Angela O'Connell and myself.
   Even better was the raffle, in which ALL the astronomers from NI who were there won something: Paul Evans, Lee Gordon, Pat O'Neill and myself - all from the IAA of course!!
  Thanks to all in MAC for an excellent event, and to all the sponsors, particularly Ktec Telescopes ( More details on
   Finally, Declan Molloy, MC for the event and former chairman of MAC, has written a book called "Conversation with an Alien". He showed me his only copy, and glancing through it, the name of a character caught my eye: 'Sara Beck', who works for NASA. And sitting just 2 seats away was a Sara Beck who used to work for NASA! - she's now Sara O'Neill, of course. Declan swears he just picked the name out of the air..... Yeah! I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks interesting and it's available on
3. IFAS: At the IFAS meeting (held at COSMOS), the following were elected or re-elected:
Chair: Seanie Morris (MAC)
V-Chair: Ronan Newman (GAC)
Treasurer: Bernie Blaney (ex-Deise)
Secretary: Paul Evans (IAA)
Social Media/ PR: Deirdre Kelleghan (SCAC)
Thanks to Albert White who had been secretary, and Deirdre who stood down as V-C.
   There are plans for local club, as well as national, publicity & participation in the 2015 March 20 solar eclipse, which will be a very large partial eclipse throughout Ireland. More details later.
4. ISS: The International Space Station continues its series of evening passes. There will be an excellent pass on the evening of 12 April; which is very appropriate for the date: see below. Details of all passes for your own location on
5. SKYDIVER ALMOST HIT BY FALLING METEORITE. See: It seems that this is genuine, though the meteorite has not been found yet.
6.  Yuri's Night: 12 April. Marking 53 years since the first human flight into space.
Free Evening event at BCO, Cork. Contact CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Castle Road, Blackrock, Cork, Ireland. T: +353 (0) 21 432 6124| for details
   A nice way to mark Yuri's Night anywhere in Ireland is to observe a very favourable pass of the ISS that evening. Details from Heavens-Above.
12 April: Maximum magnitude -3.0 to -4.0. Times below are Summer Time.
Start 10° up in WSW: Time about 21.45, depending on your location
Max: 50+° up in South, about 21.48
Ends: about 22° up in ESE, at about 21.52.
   The ISS is now the size of a football field, weighs over 410 tons, and has now orbited the Earth about 82,000 times and travelled more than 2 billion miles. I wonder what Yuri would have made of that?
7.  Spring into Space at BCO, Cork: See
8. IAA Event at N. Down Museum, Bangor, 3 May: Mars and Stars, ~6.30 p.m. After last year's very successful IAA event there, we have been invited back for another evening, on 3 May. More details in future bulletins.
9. 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
With reference to this, these articles may be of interest:  It doesn't say here what the diameter of the E-ELT will be: it was originally to be 42m (the answer to the ultimate question about 'Life, The Universe, and Everything" was "42"), but it was later scaled back to a still huge 39m. But how can any science journalist refer to a roughly circular mirror as 'thirty meters long'?
10. STFC Roadshow at QUB, 17 - 24 May. Note that this event will now start 2 days earlier, and finish one day earlier, than in previous emails. The revised dates are as shown above. 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 
11. Statutory Public Lecture of the School of Theoretical Physics, 19 May. 
  The 2014 Statutory Public Lecture of the DIAS School of Theoretical Physics will take place on Monday 19th May (time tbc) in UCD. The lecture entitled “Are Brains Analog or Digital?” will be given by Professor Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.
   This FREE lecture is not strictly astronomical, but Prof Dyson is well known in the field of cosmology and fundamental physics. See:
   ABSTRACT: We know that creatures like us have two separate systems for processing information, the genome and the brain. We know that the genome is digital, and we can accurately transcribe our genomes onto digital machines. We cannot transcribe our brains, and the processing of information in our brains is still a great mystery. I will be talking about real brains and real people, asking a question that will have practical consequences when we are able to answer it. I am not able to answer it now. All I can do is to examine the evidence and explain why I consider it probable that the answer will be that brains are analog.
    Location: Theatre D, UCD Science Hub, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4. Building 64 on map:
Solarfest 2014 is now confirmed for Saturday 21st June. Further details will be posted here in due course:
13. INTERNATIONAL METEOR CONFERENCE, 2014  Thursday September 18 till Sunday 21 September 2014, Giron, France. Giron is a small village located in the south of the Jura Mountains close to Geneva. The region is easily reachable by air (Geneva or Lyon airport), by train (TGV high speed train from Paris and InterCity trains from Geneva railway station) and by car (highway A40 Lyon-Chamonix). Part of the attraction for this event is that a free visit to CERN is included in the price! See
14. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: Obviously a Martian astronomer with a head-torch setting up his telescope.... That's no way to treat a Ladee! and (reminds me of a well-known IAS amateur who always manages to work his way in closest to the fire and stand with his back to it!) (but it will cost you more than a COSMOS version - see item 2 above!) (a few Lancastrians might agree....) Nice! and 

Black Hole to Gobble Giant Gas Cloud:

Early universe transition from quarks to matter:

BOSS quasars track expansion of universe:

ISS's Small Satellite Launcher:

FERMI gives clues to Dark Matter?

Largest Known Galaxy Cluster:

Atomic clock accurate to 1 sec in 300 million years (about 1 part in 568,036,800,000!):



15. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: The account is now operational again as before: @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, in tribute to the late great John Dobson, a quote from him which is typical of the man, and very appropriate:  "If you figure something out for yourself, it doesn't make no never-mind who figured it out first, it's yours."
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley
I'm now back on Twitter (occasionally - I don't have enough time!), after some temporary hiccups: @terrymoseley2

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