Saturday, 12 July 2014

BBQ, NLCs, INAM, Solar Day @ WWT, ANDOR visit, Name Exoplanets, IAA Trips, IMC

Hi all,
1. IAA Midsummer BBQ at Armagh Observatory: This was a great success, with a very enjoyable visit to the Planetarium, including the spectacular aurora starshow, and tours of the Observatory and telescopes domes, thanks to Prof Mark Bailey and James Finnegan. Thanks also to Bob Campbell and Sean McKenna who came all the way from Tullamore in a big van with Bob's amazing rocket-launcher. Winner of the competition for the best rocket was Alison Simms (wife of Mike, the meteorite guy), whose well-built model went 50% further than its nearest rival! Including my own :-(
   And the weather was lovely; the only water falling from the sky came from the rocket launching. Thanks to all who participated or helped.
   BTW, if anybody who went on the tour did not remember to make a voluntary donation (suggested £2 adult, £1 child) to the Observatory, please send a cheque to Armagh Observatory!
2. Noctilucent Clouds (NLCs). We are now approaching the end of 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. There have been several more sightings. 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. See this from IAA member John McConnell:
3: Major astronomy event in Dublin, INAM: 13-15 August: REGISTER NOW:
You should register even if you only want to attend the public lecture.
Details: This year the ASGI is proud to announce the first Irish National Astronomical Meeting (INAM:2014), celebrating the 40th anniversary of the ASGI, and spanning 3 days. This will represent the new format of the future ASGI meetings, with more focused sessions, chosen by the Irish Astronomical community, aimed at developing meaningful and long-lasting collaborations and friendships. 
* We invite you to join us at the Hamilton Conference Centre on the main Trinity College Dublin campus, between August 13th – 15th.
* Full details are at the meeting website, but we highlight some key points here:
* Deadline for registration is 13th July 2014. There is no registration fee.
* Abstract submission and registration are handled on the website.
* The website provides information on travel and accommodation options.
* The ASGI intends on awarding a number of small grants of approximately €100 (or equivalent in GBP) to help support travel/accommodation costs of PhD students and young researchers from outside the immediate Dublin area.
* In addition to the scientific programme of 5 thematic sessions, the meeting will also feature an evening public lecture by Professor Paul Roche (University of South Wales), a conference dinner, and the inaugural INAM football tournament!
Register at
   NB: This is a professional level event (apart from the public lecture), so be prepared from some fairly advanced maths and physics! T.M.
4. IAA Solar Day, WWT, Castle Espie. We will be holding another one of these very popular events on Sunday afternoon, 17 August. More details later.
5. EXCLUSIVE: Visit to Andor Technology Camera Facility, 13 September: The IAA has arranged a special visit to the Andor Technology Camera manufacturing facility in Belfast. As many of you will know, Andor make some of the best - in many cases the best - high-end digital cameras in the world. They are used in every scientific application imaginable, including of course astronomy, and they can be found in many of the world's top observatories, and in spacecraft. They are also moving into the range of amateur astronomers, having recently acquired Apogee Instruments. Thanks to Dr Andy McCrea we have arranged a free special visit for IAA members, and friends, to this facility, on Saturday 13 September.
Provisional Programme:
1200 Meet in Andor Reception
Introductory welcome and short talk
Lunch (provided by Andor) in their canteen
Tour of the Clean Room and factory assembly floor
Talks on the range of cameras and their applications
Talk on solar astronomy imaging using Andor cameras by Prof Mihalis Mathioudakis of the Astrophysics Research Centre in QUB (link from QUB/ Professor Smart)
Q&A Discussion
Finish - say 1530
  This is an exceptional opportunity to see and learn all about the latest developments and future plans for top class astronomical imaging equipment. Andor will also be interested in feedback from expert amateur users of digital imagers, so this is your opportunity to let them know what YOU would like to see available.
   Spaces are limited, so you must register your intention to attend. Please send your name and contact details to Dr Andy McCrea (of North Down Telescopes: email to ensure that you get a place, and mark your diaries now!
6. Armagh Planetarium July programme: see It will be open on July 12 - 14 as usual.
7. Name Exoplanets & Hosts stars: I don't think 'Christen' is the right word - unless all Atheists, Bahai's, Hindus, Humanists, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Sikhs, etc are to be excluded from taking part!
8. IAA ASTRONOMY VISITS - PLANS: As part of our 40th Anniversary celebrations, we are planning at least one astronomical trip to either GB or Paris. This is a preliminary enquiry to assess where the main interest would be. The options are broadly as follows: They would be in the form of a long weekend trip (Friday - Sunday, or Saturday to a BH Monday, or possible Friday to Monday)
1. GB Trip A: Visit to Jodrell Bank, The National Space Centre at Leicester, and possibly either the Spaceguard Centre in Wales or the astronomy centre at Cambridge.
2. GB Trip B: Visit to the historic Greenwich Observatory, Science Centre and Planetarium in London + a visit to the Royal Greenwich Observatory site and Science Centre at Herstmonceux in Sussex, + a visit to the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester (headed by Dr John Mason)
3. Trip to Paris: Visit to Paris to see the historic and still functioning Paris Observatory (made famous by Flammarion & others), and the Meudon Observatory near Versailles, just outside Paris: this hosts the famous 33" 'Grand Lunette' Refractor, the 3rd largest refractor in the world, and the largest outside the USA.
   If you are interested in any of these trips, please let me know by return, indicating them in order of preference.
9. 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
 After 30 June you will not be able to book extra nights before or after the IMC via the LOC. After 30 June extra nights should be booked on your own behalf.
Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015
COSMOS: April 17th to 19th 2015, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone.
11. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: What has happened to the standards of journalism? - How can an article about supermoons refer twice to the Sun instead of the Moon???  BTW, only the one on 10 August will be a proper 'Supermoon' - more on that later.  I didn't know the Space Station was called 'Saturday'! (Why omit the simple little 2-letter preposition "on"? To save time and space, did you say? Why then add an extra word in the phrase "off of", when just "off" is sufficient? (Just my personal gripe!))  That should read "within two decades of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings..."!  And no mention of capturing an asteroid and bringing it to lunar orbit as a stepping stone to a mission to Mars! An interesting article, and very timely. But there are no galaxies at a distance of "1,000 light years", since that is well within the Milky Way! After all, the MW has a diameter of 100,000 LY (visible, and more if we include dark matter). Even our close satellite galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, are about 170,000 LY away. Also, the reference in the penultimate para should be to the 'expanding' universe, not 'accelerating', which is a different matter The sentence at the end of the 6th para is misleading - it means that the asteroid's perihelion distance must be within 1.3 AU's, not just that it comes within 1.3 AUs of the Earth! In other words, its closest approach to Earth must be within the range of (150 million km x 1.3) = 195 million km - 150 million km = 45 million km. Which actually seems quite a generous allowance!
Rosetta target comet releases plenty of water:  Err, how much water is in a 'glass'? - 100ml? 200ml? 300ml? 400ml? - rather sloppy (excuse the pun) journalism.
New Seven Dwarf Galaxies: If they are at the same distance as M101 (24m LY) it might soon be possible to see any superluminous stars that might be in them - if they have any. (And I wonder do any of them have a planet in the Goldilocks Zone?)
12. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: The account is now operational again as before: @IaaAstro.

13. 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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