7. Astronomical Orientation of Lough Gur Stone Circle. This is the largest stone circle in Ireland, and well-known archaeoastronomer Dr Frank Prendergast will be one of the speakers at the following event: The inaugural Lough Gur Spirit of Place Celebration, featuring a series of public lectures, talks, contemplative tours and music in the heart of one of Ireland's most important archaeological sites, will take place on the 10th and 11th of October next.
The event is on the home page of the loughgur.com website with a drop down menu appearing on the top left. This section includes programme and speaker information, and press releases.
Taking advantage of the visit to Belfast by world famous cosmologist Lawrence Krauss (see earlier bulletin), the IAA is teaming up with the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB (to which sincere thanks are due) to present a public lecture by him on 22 October.
11. FAEROES ECLIPSE TRIP: The next Total Solar Eclipse visible on Earth will be on 20 March, 2015.
This total eclipse track will only cross land on Earth in two places: the Faeroes, and Svalbard in the far North Atlantic. IAA member and eclipse author Dr Kate Russo will be leading a tour to observe this eclipse in the Faeroes. I have the honour to be the 'eclipse/astronomy/aurora expert' on the trip, on which we hope to be able to get good views of the aurora as well as the eclipse itself. See http://www.independenttraveller.com/experiences/photography/astronomy/total-solar-eclipse-2015-faroe-islands. You can also find out more details on the eclipse blog site: http://independenttraveller.com/blog/
12. COMET NEAR-MISS WITH MARS, Oct 19: Comet Siding Spring will pass 134,000 kilometres from Mars on October 19. The neutral-gas coma of the comet, which extends for more than 100,000 kilometres in all directions from the nucleus, may well interact with the atmosphere of the planet. Ions may extend away than that, and the tail is millions of kilometres long. As a precaution, the orbits of the Martian orbiters have been altered to place them on the safe side of the planet during the most dangerous part of the encounter, which will occur when Mars' path through the comet's tail reaches the region of highest dust density, about 100 minutes after closest approach.
Nevertheless, every effort will be made to get good observations from the comet from all the spacecraft on or near the Red Planet. Siding Spring is a long-period comet on its first visit to the inner Solar System and spacecraft designed to study Mars up-close are not idea for good observations of the tiny comet nucleus much further away.
The comet's coma of dust and ice particles are the main hazard for the orbiters, but will not affect the rovers on the surface which will be protected by Mars' atmosphere. Even though it's much thinner than ours, the tiny particles in the coma will burn up without reaching the ground.
Each spacecraft will observe the comet as best as possible using its respective instruments. Most attention will be on the comet's coma -- its size, composition, the size of the particles, how it varies with time, and the jets from the nucleus. They will also study the comet's effect on the Martian atmosphere. And one spacecraft may possibly be able to image the tiny nucleus of the comet, only 1-2 kilometres across, as it passes by at the challenging relative speed of 57 km/s. But most instruments will be able to see the coma or the coma's effects on the atmosphere.
The spacecraft involved are: 1. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Has 3 cameras plus an imaging spectrometer and a radar sounder. 2. Mars Express. Will use HRSC camera and ultraviolet/infrared atmospheric spectrometer. 3. Mars Odyssey. Will use THEMIS thermal emission imaging system. 4. MAVEN, arriving 2014. Has a suite of instruments devoted to Mars' upper atmosphere, but no camera. 5. Mars Orbiter Mission, arriving 2014. Has a varied instrument suite but not sure if it will be performing Siding Spring observations.
13. TAMING THE ELEMENTS LECTURE SERIES, Ulster Museum, 21 October The lectures will take place on consecutive Tuesday evenings, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the Lecture Theatre on the ground floor. Some of these talks will be of interest to astronomers. This is a free event – but to secure your place please use the Buy Tickets button on the web page. For further information please ring 028 9044 0000. Opening hours are Tue-Sun 10am-5pm.
17. INTERESTING WEBLINKS:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2783339/I-CANNON-t-believe-Latest-bizarre-rock-spotted-Mars-appears-look-like-heavy-artillery.html Well that would explain where the little cannon ball came from, wouldn't it? - See: http://news.discovery.com/space/curiosity-finds-a-weird-ball-on-mars-140924.htm ;-)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2782244/That-s-streaking-amazing-Star-trails-Milky-Way-revealed-stunning-time-lapse-photography-captured-Italy.html Some amazing effects, and beautiful images
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