Wednesday, 21 May 2014

JBB Lecture, STFC, Mercury, Uni in a box, ISS, New Meteors, NLCs, Live meteors

Hi all,
1. Lecture by Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell: Thursday 22 May, 19.00 - 20.30
As part of the STFC event at QUB (see below) the following public lecture is one of the highlights:
'The last and the next 100 years in astronomy': by Dame Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell, University of Oxford
Please note: This event will take place in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, Department of Physics, Queen's University Belfast from 19.00 - 20.30.
 Attendance at this event is free but space is limited, so to book your seat please register at
  If you would like to visit the 'Seeing the Universe' exhibition beforehand, please be at the Great Hall at 18.15
2. STFC Roadshow at QUB, 17 - 24 May, + Public Lecture: all FREE. 
 Seeing the Universe" has been sponsored and provided by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council. The exhibition is in the Great Hall in the main Lanyon Building until Saturday 24th May inclusive, 10am until 4pm each day.
   The exhibition features stunning science images and interactive exhibits, including:
    • Scale models of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), The James Webb Space Telescope and the Herschel Space Observatory.
    • Hands-on exhibits including seeing the invisible, adaptive optics and micro autonomous robots
    • An interactive control desk providing details on the full spectra of wavelengths used by astronomers
    • An 8 metre interactive wall featuring an 'astronomical wow facts' screen, interactive touchscreen and a large 3D screen.
    • Historical science papers from the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) & the Thomas Harriot Trust
The exhibition will be manned by astronomy students and young researchers from the Astrophysics Research Centre here at Queen's, explaining the exhibits and answering any questions.
   On each weekday Monday-Friday at 1pm in the Bell Lecture Theatre Department of Physics and Astronomy, Queen's University. Dr. Robert Ryans will be giving one of his 4 entertaining lectures on the "Science of Sci-Fi Weapons". Again entrance is free, just come along. Please note that there may be school classes at these talks.
 Attendance at these events is free but space is limited, so to book your seat please register at
 Check the `Seeing the Universe in All its Light' webpage 
3. Mercury: The innermost planet is just visible low in the NW twilight after sunset for about the next week, but it's getting fainter each day. Look about 20 degrees below and right of Jupiter. You'll probably need binoculars to find it, twinkling very low in the twilight. But any low cloud or haze may hide it.
4. And STFC then goes to Armagh Planetarium:
The STFC show will then move to Armagh Planetarium for the following week: The Science and Technology Facilities Council are bringing their wonderful "Seeing the Universe in all its Light" interactive exhibition to Armagh Planetarium!  The exhibition showcases the story of astronomy, from the past to the future and highlights some of the key inspirational moments and technical challenges along the way.
   Seeing the Universe will open on Monday 26 May and will run until Saturday 31 May from 10am until 5pm and admission is FREE.  The exhibition is suitable for all ages.  We would also encourage visits from schools but please contact us first if you plan to bring a group of 20 or more on 02837 523689.
  Dates: Monday 26 – Saturday 31 May 2014, Time: 10am - 5pm, Price: Free
   Universe Awareness launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to share the educational toolkit - Universe in a Box - with underprivileged communities around the world. The box contains various interactive physical activities including solar and lunar eclipse.
   The Kickstarter campaign runs for from 9 May until 10 June and aims to raise €15,000. The money will be used to distribute free Universe in a Boxes and train teachers to use it, both face-to-face and online.
   We'd appreciate if you can help us to get the word out and pledge. Even the smallest support can make a big difference and inspire a child out there.
6. ISS Returns to morning skies. The ISS has started another series of morning passes over Ireland. This series will eventually blend seamlessly into a series of evening passes in June, because of the very short summer nights. See for details for your location.
7. New 'Camelopardalid' Meteor Shower, May 23-24
A new meteor shower is due to light up the sky on the early morning of 24 May, with some forecasters predicting up to 200 meteors per hour; some say even up to 1,000 per hour.
   The new Camelopardalid meteor shower is expected as the Earth passes through a debris stream left by Comet 209P/LINEAR nearly 200 years ago. The new meteor display could rival the brilliance of the annual Perseid meteors in August.
   The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) team discovered Comet 209P/LINEAR in February 2004. The relatively dim comet crosses Earth's orbit once every five years in its journey around the Sun.
  In 2012 meteor experts Esko Lyytinen of Finland and Peter Jenniskens at NASA Ames Research Center forecast that Earth would pass through debris shed from the comet in the 1800s. See
  Maximum is forecast for 06.00 on the 24th (07.00 BST). The best place to observe in UK or Ireland will be SW Kerry, where the sky will stay darker for longest before sunrise, but even so it will be light well before 06.00 UT (= 07.00 BST/IST). But it will be worth having a look any time that night, or even as soon as it's dark on the next night. The radiant is in a very empty part of the sky (see the links above), but a general guide will be that just before the sky gets too bright it's about 10 degrees below and left of Polaris.
   It is also possible that a few meteors may be seen as soon as the sky gets dark on the evening of the 24th: in this case the SE of Ireland is best favoured.
   Don't look directly at the radiant - look about 40 degrees away, high up in the direction where the sky is darkest.
8. Noctilucent Clouds. We are approaching the season of visibility for these ethereal high altitude clouds, visible when the sky is nearly totally dark, as they lie well above the height of ordinary clouds. They are thought to be connected with high altitude fine debris from meteors which have burned up high in our atmosphere. Look low in the Northern sky near local midnight
9. Watch meteors & meteoroids impact Earth in real time: This is really fascinating. Look out for some well-known constellations round the edges of the charts to get your bearings. It's in real time, so the position of the Moon will move noticeably from night to night.
10. See where all the space probes are now: This is really good: But it doesn't show the spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, Mars etc
11. SOLARFEST, DUNSINK Observatory:
Solarfest 2014 is now confirmed for Saturday 21st June. Further details will be posted here in due course:
12. 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.
The headline is rather sensational & misleading! And if Aliens did visit Earth in the past, I would expect that they would have done a lot better than the rock art that we see!
   If we went to Mars & wanted to leave evidence that we had been there, for the benefit of future discovery, we would build something like the obelisk in "2001" not some vague scratchings on a rock. And if it wasn't deliberate evidence for the future, but just 'doodling', then their art was at about the same level as a 7 year old!
   But the rest of the book is worth reading.
Spitzer space telescope faces shut-down:
Delta rocket production speedup:
15. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: The account is now operational again as before: @IaaAstro.

16. 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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