Tuesday, 29 April 2014

IAA@Bangor, Dave G nets S/nova 3, Fitzgerald Medal, Asteroids, Obituary, Events

Hi all,
1. IAA Event at N. Down Museum, Bangor, 3 May: "STARS AND MARS, MOON AND JUPITER AT BANGOR CASTLE"  6.00 p.m. After last year's very successful IAA event there, we have been invited back for another evening, on 3 May.… The Irish Astronomical Association, in conjunction with North Down Borough Council, presents a public astronomy evening, at North Down Museum, Bangor Castle, on 3 May
   The Irish Astronomical Association will be holding another of their very popular astronomy evenings at the Museum beside Bangor Castle, on Saturday evening, 3 May, at 6.00 p.m. Once again we'll have a selection of powerful telescopes and binoculars for viewing the night sky, an exhibition, short astronomy and space films, a selection of meteorites (rocks from space) which you can actually hold, and of course the Stardome mobile planetarium (courtesy of Armagh Planetarium) just in case of bad weather. And you'll have a chance to meet our own 'Ulsternaut', Derek Heatly from Groomsport, who is booked to fly into space with Virgin Galactic.
   There will be regular free shows in the Stardome: these MUST be booked in advance on arrival at the Museum
   Early evening observers will be able to view the Sun safely through our special telescopes for an hour or so before it sets. Night sky observing will begin about 9.30 p.m. The highlights will be a beautiful crescent Moon with the Earthshine, popularly known as 'the Old Moon in the New Moon's  Arms', providing unforgettable
views in the telescopes. In addition we will get a great view of giant Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, with its four large Moons. And later in the evening we'll look at our fascinating neighbour, the Red Planet, Mars. All those of course are weather dependant.
   All members are invited to bring along their telescopes for this event.
2. Irish Amateur Astronomer Dave Grennan discovers his 3rd supernova!
Irish amateur astronomer, Mr. Dave Grennan, has discovered his THIRD supernova!  Confirmation of his discovery from his Dublin-based backyard observatory is sweeping round the world. This from RTE:
Irish astronomer discovers previously unknown supernova
   Dave discovered the Type 1c Supernova nearly two weeks ago, but it has now been confirmed by a team of professional astronomers in China and announced by the International Astronomical Union on Saturday. It has been named "Supernova 2014as".  The explosion occurred 170 million years ago in the spiral galaxy NGC 5410.
This is also on our forums here:
   Dave recently gave a fascinating lecture to the IAA on his home-built observatory, and his observations and plans: He said that he hoped that his new telescope, for which he ground and polished the mirror himself, would increase his chances of another discovery - he didn't have to wait too long!
See also: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2615133/Amateur-astronomer-spots-rare-supernova-using-homemade-telescope-shed-garden.html (Well illustrated, but some sloppy reporting here:
"It was made in a galaxy which at this time of year appears beside the constellation known to most people as the Plough, or Big Dipper." Eh? And they seem to be confusing the distance of the star, 170 million LY, with its age.
   Many congratulations Dave, from me and I'm sure from the whole astronomical community.
3. Fitzgerald award: Apologies for this omission: I forgot to mention that the IAA's award for "Outstanding Service to the Association", the Aidan P Fitzgerald Award, was given at the AGM to Brian Beesley. Brian is a former President of the IAA, and has recently become extremely active again, travelling widely to attend all our public events, and joining the Council again to help in our deliberations on how best to serve members and the public. A thoroughly well deserved award, and I'm sure that I can express congratulations on behalf of all members.
4. ASTEROIDS well placed:  The two brightest asteroids, 4 Vesta and 1 Ceres (actually now a Dwarf Planet), are still placed for observing. Although Vesta is the smaller of the two, it has a more reflective surface, and is also closer to us, so it appears the brighter, at mag 5.8, just within range of the unaided eye in good conditions if you know just where to look. Ceres is mag 7.0, but easily visible in binoculars. They lie within 2 degrees of each other for the next few months, getting closer all the time as they approach a minimum separation of only 10' on 5 July. More details on that closer to the time.
 I will send a chart giving their positions on request: email me on terrymosel@aol.com.
5. Death of former TAS Chairman, Trevor Rainsberry: (From Seanie Morris, edited)
It is with a heavy heart that I give you sad news of the passing of Trevor Rainsberry, one time Chairperson of Tullamore Astronomical Society (now MAC) in the early 90s. He passed away peacefully at his Clonminch home. He was a gentleman who loved his bees and their honey, tractor rides on the land with his dog, and coming to astronomy meetings. He was one of our first Librarians who would often bring those wooden crates of books to each meeting (I still have some of these crates, with club books in them!). Trevor had been a member of our Club for many years. He was an active beekeeper, and many a time we would be (gently) harassed, but never stung, by his hundreds of thousands of bees at our Site in Clonminch. Incidentally, Trevor owned the land that MAC was able to formally buy our half-acre from in 1996.

6 New Science website: If you have an interest in Science then this site will be invaluable:
7.  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
www.astro.nuigalway.ie/speeadandsensitivity or www.htra.ie/speedandsensitivity
With reference to this, these articles may be of interest: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2580965/New-space-race-begins-Astronomers-compete-build-generation-super-telescopes-reveal-hidden-universe.html  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'?
8. 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 at:www.stfc.ac.uk/2740 (the dates on this link are wrong - correct dates are as above)
9. 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson.
   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: http://www.ucd.ie/maps/2013/UCD_Map_August_2013.pdf
10. SOLARFEST, DUNSINK Observatory:
Solarfest 2014 is now confirmed for Saturday 21st June. Further details will be posted here in due course:
11. 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 http://www.imo.net/imc2014.
Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015
COSMOS: April 17th to 19th 2015, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2613478/The-graphic-reveals-Nasa-plans-man-Mars-20-years.html. What is the point in sending a Mars-bound spacecraft out to a tiny rock in lunar orbit; decelerating the spacecraft to rendezvous with the rock, and then having to accelerate again to get to Mars?
   You could maybe do a loop round the moon, and back to Earth for a gravity assist from Earth, then on to Mars, but I can't see the benefit of a rendezvous with a small rock!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2612923/Could-travel-Mars-30-DAYS-Nasa-believes-nuclear-powered-rockets-make-trip-faster-cheaper.html That would involve some very unpleasant acceleration and deceleration for almost the whole journey!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2608420/The-thing-preventing-catastrophe-city-killer-size-asteroid-blind-luck-Nasa-astronauts-reveal-evidence-10-times-large-scale-asteroids-hit-earth-decade-previously-thought.html  So what's wrong with the artist's illustration of the impact?
1. That's not an asteroid! The largest one (ignoring its reclassification as a dwarf planet) is Ceres, which is under 1000 km in diameter. That object, per scale, is about 4500 km across - the size of Mercury! It would not be a 'city killer' - it would be an 'Earth killer'!
2. Why do illustrators show an asteroid 'trailing fire' as it moves through empty space? There would be no trail until it entered the atmosphere - say about 200 km up, for these purposes.
http://www.space.com/19985-private-mars-mission-flyby-dennis-tito-infographic.html (it may be a free return trajectory, but only if they get the spacecraft into EXACTLY the right trajectory when approaching Mars)
http://ap-gfkpoll.com/featured/findings-from-our-latest-poll-2 It's no wonder that the next global superpower will be China, which will soon surpass the USA, where Right Wing / Republican / Christian Fundamentalism is pushing America back towards intellectual 'dark ages'.
Ladee Mission completed: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140419193729.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28Space+%26+Time+News+--+ScienceDaily%29 If the impact time is uncertain within a range of 52 minutes, and it was travelling at 3,600 mph, that means the impact could be anywhere along a path 3120 miles long. Which is not far off the circumference of the lunar farside! That's actually 3391 miles, and allowing for libration, in fact it's only just within the lunar farside, the part of the Moon that we can never see from Earth! But I presume that they actually have a fair idea where it occurred along that track.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423095208.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29  Very interesting. It brings to mind the old debate about 'tired light' as a partial explanation for cosmic redshifts.... NB, the word "tolls" in para 3, line 5, should be "tools".
14. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: The account is now operational again as before: @IaaAstro.

15. NEW LINK. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is easy: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc
    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 www.irishastro.org
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

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