Wednesday, 23 April 2014

New IAA Council, Asteroids and meteors, Earth's twin, TLE photos, Coming events

Hi all,
1. IAA: New Council The AGM elected a new council as follows:
President: Terry Moseley,
Vice Presidents: Dr Andy McCrea, David Stewart,
Secretary: Tony Kempston
Treasurer/Webmaster: Paul Evans
Membership Secretary: Brian Beesley
Ordinary members: Danny Collins, David Collins, Pat O'Neill, Allistair Gordon (new council member)
Full details on the IAA website:
   Speaking personally, I'm honoured to have once again been asked to lead the IAA, and I know I'll have full support and help from a very loyal and capable Council.
   Thanks for their good work to the two Council members who have stepped down: Mrs Jo Magill (former treasurer), and Philip Baxter (former membership secretary).
   This year marks the 40th anniversary of the IAA (from the time of its reconstitution from the former Belfast Centre of the IAS), and we are planning some special events to celebrate. More details later.
2. ASTEROIDS well placed:  The two brightest asteroids, 4 Vesta and 1 Ceres, are well placed for observing, with opposition within two days of each other, on April 15 and 17, in Virgo. 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

3. LYRID METEORS: This quarter usually has only one decent shower, the Lyrids, which peak on the evening of April 21-22, but the LQ Moon will rise about 02.00 that night, so best condition will be from darkness until that time. The ZHR may peak at about 20. 

5. ISS: The International Space Station is coming to the end of its current series of evening passes. 
6. COSMOS PRIZES: I have now received the fabulous large mounted photo of the Orion Nebula and the Running Man Nebula, by Tom O'Donoghue which I won in the raffle at COSMOS. See for some of his absolutely stunning images. Many thanks to Tom for donating such a wonderful prize for the raffle.
Nice photos, but more religious / astrological nonsense in the report at the end.
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. We will have even more space available for the Stardome (kindly lent by Armagh Planetarium), and for all out other activities and exhibitions, so this event promises to be even better than the last one. More details soon.
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 (the dates on this link are wrong - correct dates are as above)
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:
12. SOLARFEST, DUNSINK Observatory:
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
Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015
COSMOS: April 17th to 19th 2015, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone.
This article contains this para: "During the Apollo missions, some astronauts saw a glow on the horizon before sunrise as they orbited above the moon's surface. Earlier NASA probes also caught sight of that distinct glow. Scientists think that particles of dust lofted into the thin lunar atmosphere (called an exosphere) may have caused the glow; however, data collected by LADEE has not yet confirmed this theory."
  Is it too simplistic to wonder if they might have seen some of the solar corona before the Sun itself rose? Or has that already been checked and discounted?

HST extends accurate distance measures by factor of 10:

Possible exomoon?

Looking for dark matter Another article with too many erroneous or misleading statements.

More NLCs?
New form of matter found:

A Cross-section of the universe:, and

Searching for dark energy with neutrons:

Hot newborn stars:

Mars meteorites:

ISS to beam video back to Earth by laser:

How Black Holes swallow stars:  "Cosmic slurp"? - More dumbing down. Anyway, there's no sound in space, so there wouldn't be a 'slurp'!

Astronaut farmers?  It gets worse: "outredgeous"!?

New Saturnian moon forming: and


16. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: The account is now operational again as before: @IaaAstro.

17. 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

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