Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Lectures, Newsflash, ISS, Yuri's Night, GAM, MAC, COSMOS, MARS, More events

Hi all,
1.  IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION Public Lecture, April 2, 7.30pm:   
 Dr STEVE MYERS CEng FREng FInstP FEPS FAPS: "The LHC and the Discovery of the Higgs Boson". The IAA is delighted to announce that our lecture on April 2 for Global Astronomy Month will be given by Dr Steve Myers, Director of Accelerators at CERN. Dr Myers is a graduate of QUB where he did Engineering, and went on to be head of the section of CERN dealing with all the big particle accelerators, including the LHC. In other words, without him, they wouldn't have discovered the Higgs Boson!
   Dr Myers was recently recognised with the award of an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his major contribution to the research at CERN. Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive at STFC, said: "Steve Myers is the man who made the Large Hadron Collider work – as CERN's head of Accelerators and Technology, he was responsible for delivering the particle beams to the ATLAS and CMS experiments, which the scientists then used to discover the Higgs Boson in 2012. Without his vision and hard work, none of this would have been possible."
    The LHC is absolutely huge - 27km in circumference. But if you think that's big, see this: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/02/07/cern-future-circular-collider_n_4743551.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-tech&ir=UK+Tech. I'm sure that Dr Myers will be able to give us some insight into the plans for this ginormous machine.
    And with the discovery of Gravitational Waves, modern physics marches on!  
  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. 
   We expect the lecture theatre to be full, so come early to get a good seat. And please sit close together so that we can fit everyone in!
   Thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for help in hosting these lectures.
(This lecture forms part of the IAA's participation in National Astronomy Week)
2. NEWSFLASH: Exclusive - Planetary Nebulae to be re-named.
This is the first public exposure of this news!
   All astronomers know that Planetary Nebulae have absolutely nothing to do with planets: the name is an unfortunate legacy from the 19th century when poorer quality telescope optics failed to resolve these objects properly, making them look like planets. The best known example is probably the Ring Nebula, M57, in Lyra.
  With the authority of Sir William Herschel behind the original appellation, no-one dared to change it, even when it became obvious that these objects are in fact shells of gas given off by certain stars at a late stage in their evolution. But it has been recognised that the time has come to drop that inappropriate and misleading name, and come up with something more accurate.
   Part of the impetus for this change came from the IAU's decision to officially rename Pluto and Ceres as 'Dwarf Planets'. Now a new name for these objects has also to be found.
  Spokesperson Olaf Pirol said "Now is an appropriate time to get rid of this anomaly and give these fascinating and often beautiful objects a more appropriate name."
  An obvious one would be 'Shell Stars", but this name is already applied to the Gamma Cassiopeia variables (GCAS): see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_star.
  Favourites so far include "Circumstellar Shells" as this is the simplest and most accurate description, because the name in fact applies to the surrounding gas, rather than the star itself. Another one being considered is "Shell nebulae" which has the advantage of retaining the term 'nebula'. Or they could be combined into Circumstellar Shell Nebulae: this is longer*, but could be abbreviated to "CSN".
  If agreement cannot be reached, the final decision will probably be taken via a vote among the professional astronomical community.
  Remember, you read it here first!
*Precedences for other long names, usually referred just by their abbreviations, are AGB: Asymptotic Giant Branch (stars) and AGN: Active Galactic Nucleus.
3. ISS: The International Space Station continues its series of morning passes over Ireland until April 02. Then evening passes will commence on April 6. 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 www.heavens-above.com.
4. 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| www.bco.ie 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. ISS: Maximum magnitude -3.0. 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?
5.  Trip to Newgrange: - this was a great success: We are already trying to plan another one for the autumn, or possible next year.
7. MAC Lecture: "How I Built My Observatory": Presented by Mr. Jason Fallon, MAC Chairperson, on Tuesday April 1st in Clonamore House Hotel, Tullamore, at 8pm. Jason built a very intuitive, low cost and low maintenance observatory in his backyard, and this talk will show any budding DIY Observatory enthusiasts how it CAN be done. All are welcome to attend, members are free, non-members €2.
8. COSMOS 2014.  This will be held from 4-6 April,  in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel in Athlone. www.tullamoreastronomy.com/pages/cosmos-2014.php
There is a full programme ready with 9 EXCELLENT speakers, air-powered rocket launches, exhibits, observing and LOADS more throughout the weekend!
    This year, Midlands Astronomy Club is lucky to have sponsorship from Ktec Telescopes (www.ktectelescopes.ie), and we thank them for their support of COSMOS 2014.
The programme of events (timetable only) can be viewed on our website: www.midlandsastronomy.com
Registration: Friday evening from 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9:30am.
Prices: All this and much more is available to everyone. The following are the admission rates:
Weekend: €30; Day (Sat or Sun): €20; Friday only: €5
Children under 12 remain free WITH an accompanying, paying adult(s).
Cosmic Dinner (Saturday Night from 7:30pm): This will have limited places but will have greater availability than in previous years. Price and menu will be available for consideration from Friday of the weekend if not beforehand.
Cosmos Table Quiz (Saturday from 9:00pm): This will be held following the tea/coffee serving after the Cosmic Dinner. It is FREE, part of the programme and open to all visitors, not just those of the dinner. There will be, of course, the annual Cosmos Table Quiz trophies to be won!
Rocket Launches: This is where you will get to have some fun with your own model rocket - made from a pop bottle (1.5lt to 1.5lt kind) and launches from a compressed air-powered launch pad! Get creative, make as many as you want, and even add up to additional bottles as boosters. The launch pad will in fact be bale to launch 4 rockets simultaneously.
Accommodation: There is a discount for attendees staying in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel. All you need to do is tell them you are attending.
This promises to be our BIGGEST Star Party yet. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Competition! Also, check out the advert that appeared in 1 of 8 regional newspapers offering a competition to win some great prizes! Other newspapers include Westmeath Independent, Cavan Anglo Celt, Meath Chronicle, Offaly Independent, and the Leinster Express.
There is also a competition on our Facebook page too: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midlands-Astronomy-Club/177773508924371
Both are with thanks for Ktec Telescopes for their kind prizes sponsorship.
9.  Mars at Opposition on 8 April: Mars will be closest to Earth this year in the first half of April, and so best placed for viewing. It lies in Virgo, not far from bright blue-white Spica. At opposition it will have brightened to a spectacular -1.5, and with a diameter of 15.1", you can see reasonable detail in a good telescope, if the seeing is steady. The North Pole of the planet is tilted towards Earth, at an angle of 21˚, but the polar cap is likely to be barely visible in the Martian summer. It will be 242 million km from the Sun, but only 93m km from Earth.
10: Planetary Formation Seminar, 9 April, UCD:
Wednesday, 9th April 2014 – 4pm: From disks to planets: a long and difficult journey. Speaker: Prof Antonella Natta, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and Arcetri Observatory, Florence, Italy. Organiser: UCD School of Physics Venue: UCD Science Centre North, Room 128 
   Abstract: Young stars form as the result of the collapse of a high density "core" within a molecular cloud. Due to angular momentum conservation, the young protostar is surrounded by a rotating disk of gas and dust particles. The disks live much longer than the core and keep accreting matter onto the central star through most of the pre-main sequence evolution of the star. During this time planets form, and we believe that their properties are related to the physical structure of the disk and its evolution in time.
   In this talk I will review some of the current research on disks and planet formation.  After a brief description of the basic properties of protoplanetary disks, I will talk about the accretion properties and the accretion/ejection mechanisms that control the disk dynamics.
   I will then discuss the mechanisms that form planets via core accretion, the observational evidence for planet formation during the disk lifetime and the challenge of understanding the underlying physics.  
11. IAA AGM: 16 April: The meeting will be followed by a 'Bring & Buy' for all your wanted, and unwanted, astronomy items, from Altaz mounts to Zerodur mirrors; and a 'Telescope Fixits' session - bring your problem scope in and we'll try to fix it for you.
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. 
12. 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.
13. 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'?
14. 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 
15. 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
Solarfest 2014 is now confirmed for Saturday 21st June. Further details will be posted here in due course:
17. 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.
http://www.space.com/25272-mars-one-colony-red-planet-simulators.html?cmpid=556792. I'm all in favour of exploring Mars, but I'll bet £1000 with anyone who wants to take it on that there won't be human footprints on Mars by 31 December 2025! Any takers?

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