Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sl. Gullion event, Lecture, Dinner, ISS, Obs at DCP, Xmas Events, Philae, Books

Hi all,
1: Public Astronomy Night at Slieve Gullion, Sunday 30 November 
The IAA will be holding another public astronomy outreach event, this time at a new dark sky venue, the visitor's centre at Slieve Gullion Forest Park, near the village of Meigh, SW of Newry. VENUE: Visitors Centre, Slieve Gullion Forest Park. Signposted off B113 from Newry to Forkhill, past the village of Meigh. It has nice dark skies. The entrance is at N 54 deg 6' 36.5"; W: 6 deg 24' 19" Café in the VC for hot refreshments. Come along if you can, bring a telescope if you have one. This event will begin at 6.00, and finish by about 9.30 - 10.00, depending on weather.
We will have our usual selection of telescopes and binoculars for observing (or on display of cloudy), an exhibition including meteorites, and a public lecture.
   All are welcome, and admission is free.
   Hot refreshments will be provided.
2. IAA LECTURE: The next IAA public lecture will be on Wednesday 3 December, at 7.30 p.m. It will be given by Prof Tom Ray, of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Title:  "The Einstein Lens and a Tale of Two Eclipses."

   This lecture will present some exclusive new findings about the trips that were made to various parts of the world to observe the Total Solar Eclipse in 1919: the first attempt to check the predictions of General Relativity. see

There are two important local connections –

1. The telescope lens, which was made in Ireland; and 2. The astronomer who led the expedition to Brazil was Andrew Crommelin, born in Cushendun, Co Antrim, and son of the family who gave their name to NewtownCrommelin in Co Antrim! See  Andrew Crommelin was a noted cometary astronomer, and one of only 4 people who have a comet named after them although they did not discover it:

  You will have a chance to see the telescope lens that proved Einstein's theory of Relativity was correct! And it was made in this Island!

   NB: We are aware that there had been problems hearing the speaker from the back of the lecture theatre, partly due to the noise from the twin data projector cooling fans. At the last lecture all the speakers used a mike and the PA system, which seemed to solve the problem. We will ensure that all future speakers use a microphone to prevent this problem recurring.

  This lecture will as usual be in the Bell Lecture theatre, Physics building, main QUB Campus.
   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. 
   Thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for help in hosting these lectures.
3. IAA 40th Anniversary Dinner: This was a great success, with 55 attending - the largest number we have ever had at a social event. The food was superb, especially for only £15.95 per head, the craic was good, Alan Fitzsimmons' after-dinner speech was enjoyed by all, and the photo display from long long ago up to the recent past attracted huge interest. (thanks Andy).
   And while we're obviously not planning another similar event next year, comments on the venue, format etc would be very welcome for future events.
4. IAA SUBSCRIPTIONS: Subscriptions for the current year (2014 - 2015) are now overdue. If you do not renew your subscription, your membership will cease, and you won't get the next copy of our excellent magazine, STARDUST. See last item below for details of how to pay.
5. ISS: The International Space Station will commence a new series of evening passes on 5 December. See for details for your own location.

6.  IAA Observing Nights at Delamont Country Park
These very popular weekend observing sessions have started again with some very successful viewing. Delamont is well signposted off the A22 just South of Killyleagh, (North of Downpatrick) Co Down. They are suitable for anyone, but are aimed especially at beginners.
We bring our own large telescopes; bring your own if you have a portable one.
  The events work like this: If it's clear on the Friday night, the event goes ahead. If not, we try again on the Saturday night. If both are cloudy, we try again on the following weekend, same procedure. To check if it's going ahead, check the IAA website: up to 6.0 p.m. on each day, and for dates for next session: If cloudy, we'll try again on the next date on the list.…
7. Xmas shows at Armagh Planetarium. Join Armagh Planetarium this Christmas as we journey back more than 2000 years to Bethlehem, and seek to discover an explanation for the star the Wise Men followed to find the baby Jesus in "Mystery of the Christmas Star".  
  The Star of Bethlehem is an iconic astronomical event whose true origin remains unknown even today, in spite of years of speculation and research.  The show will guide the viewer through some of these investigations and the most likely causes of this interesting cosmological object which was remarkable enough to make the wise men travel across the desert from
Babylon to Bethlehem
to see the new born baby.  
   You will also explore possible dates for the birth of Christ and look at the historical records of significant astronomical events which occurred at this time.
 The show opens on Monday 1 until
Tuesday 23 December 2014
 Show Times:
Monday – Friday (1-19 Dec) at 2pm
Saturday/School Holidays at 1pm and 4pm
Evening shows every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2-18 December at 7:30pm

Booking is essential


8. Cosmic stocking fillers & Christmas nights out at BCO

Xmas events include   Cosmic Christmas WorkshopBuildSkills Workshop, Christmas Stocking Fillers, A Christmas night with a difference,  Moon Observing We wish you a very Cosmic Christmas





10. New books on the Moon by Cork man John Moore. See Features of the Near Side Moon (Grayscale Edition) -

Features of the Near Side Moon (Colour Edition) -

11. IAA New Year Party: 3 January, Comber, Co Down, More details soon, but note your diaries now.

12. 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 You can also find out more details on the eclipse blog site:


13. ARCHAEOASTRONOMY TRIP TO NEWGRANGE and KNOWTH, 2015, These trips have proved so popular that as soon as I got back from the last one, Stranmillis University College Institute of LifeLong Learning asked me to lead another one next spring!  Like the last one, the next trip will include a visit to the Knowth Tomb as well. It has the largest collection of Megalithic art anywhere in Europe in one single site, some of which is reckoned to be astronomical. Booking for thus very popular, non-technical trip will open later, but if you want to go, note the date in your diary: Sat 9 May. More details when the new brochure comes out.

Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015, Theme: "New Worlds - New Horizons" Excellent speaker line-up already!  Latest news on speakers: To provide detailed insight into space missions one of the agency's senior scientific advisors;  Professor Michael Perryman will talk about the GAIA mission, while Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor will look at the Rosetta Comet mission for which her team built an instrument for the Philae lander.  See Check for latest updates.
 COSMOS: April 17th to 19th 2015, Shamrock LodgeHotel, Athlone.
Skelligs Star Party: 14-16 August, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry.  This is a Gold Medal winning Dark Sky site.  see
AI 'Star-B-Q': 15 August, An Tochar GAA Grounds, Roundwood, Co.Wicklow.


15: Interesting Weblinks:  And if she was able to identify them as humanoid, and able to breathe the thin atmosphere on Mars (not bad to adapt to that in 13 years! - Evolution would require millennia for that to happen) presumably they weren't wearing space suits. And so they must also have adapted to temperatures of minus 30 to minus 60 degrees. And to withstand bombardment by high-energy cosmic rays.... And the many small meteoroids which would penetrate Mars's thin atmosphere.
    Anyone like to guess how many functioning neurons the caller and Lear had between them? Maybe even into the dozens, being generous?
and Another one, perhaps more to be pitied than scorned. I don't know what to make of this article.
1. Earth's mean distance from Jupiter is 628m km, not 588.
2. The tilt of Saturn's orbit is the wrong term: changing the tilt or inclination of the orbit could have an effect on Earth's orbit, but you measure changes in tilt in degrees, not in millions of miles or km.
3. Moving Saturn's orbit "just" 10% closer to the Sun means decreasing its mean distance by 143 million km!
4. Jupiter's gravity, in this context, is not just "2.5" times stronger than that of Earth - that figure refers to the surface gravity only. In this context, it's the relative masses which count, and Jupiter's mass is 318 times that of Earth, so its gravitational pull is 318 times stronger!
5. They also refer to a change in the "tilt" of Saturn by 20 degrees, which they say would move Earth closer to the Sun than Venus. But the 'tilt' of a planet is just the inclination of its rotation axis, which would have no effect at all on Earth. What they may mean is the INCLINATION of Saturn's orbit, which would affect that of Earth. But a 20 degree tilt in Saturn's orbit is a HUGE change, making its inclination MUCH greater than that of any other planet in our SS - the greatest tilt is that of Mercury, at 7 degrees, and even if we reinstate Pluto to planetary status, even its tilt is only 17 degrees!
  There is no realistic scenario in which Saturn's orbit in our SS would have an inclination of 20 degrees.
6. They may instead mean the 'eccentricity' of Saturn's orbit. But again, a figure of 20% would be a HUGE change - the current value is only 0.05558%. And apart from Mercury, ALL the other planets have orbital eccentricities of much less than 1%.
    Whoever wrote this has got just about everything mixed up!
16. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: The account is now operational again as before: @IaaAstro.
17. 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
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

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