Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Lecture, close miss, ISS, Fireball, Science event, Comet, IFAS, Star parties

Hi all,
1: IAA LECTURE: Next IAA public lecture: Tonight - Wednesday 21 January, QUB, at 7.30 p.m. It will be given by well-known QUB astronomer, Professor Alan Fitzsimmons. Title: Rosetta at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko  Synopsis: "This year the European spacecraft Rosetta became the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, and the first to place a lander on its surface. The 3-day landing and operations period of the Philae lander was followed by millions of people around the world. Yet we still have at least a year of stunning science to come from Rosetta - plus hopefully some more from Philae. This talk will summarise the aims of the mission, show some of the first results, and explain some of what will happen in the coming months."
   Everyone is aware of the amazing pictures coming back from the Rosetta probe at Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. But there's an awful lot more than just the pictures, as our local comet expert, Alan Fitzsimmons, will reveal. I think it's fair to say that this mission has completely revolutionised our ideas about comets, and it's bound to be a fascinating and informative talk, by an acknowledged authority on the subject.
   The lecture is free and open to all, including free refreshments. Venue: 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.
2. "Close" Asteroid Flyby on Jan 26. Not that close, but quite a hefty chunk of rock! See  Another misleading illustration of an approaching asteroid
It will be visible in good binoculars or a telescope when it gets far enough North to get well above our horizon.
See this for more details and a chart That chart may not be exactly right for our location in Ireland, but it will be close enough to find and track it, Note that it passes through the Beehive Cluster, or Praesepe, in Cancer!
3. ISS The ISS continues its current series of morning passes over Ireland until 25-26 Jan. Full details for your own location, along with lots of other up to date astronomical information, on the excellent FREE site Also try the ISS Spotter by Mediapilot 
   When it's making daytime passes over Ireland, you can see Ireland live from downloaded images from the ISS
4. Bright Fireball seen & imaged over Dalkey. Details are on Yahoo News. Did anyone see or image this? If so, send me the details.
5. Major Science Event, 23 February (+ 24th in Dublin): Booking Open  Another major science event as part of the 'Origins Project" will be taking place on the 23rd of February at UU Jordanstown (and one planned for Dublin on the 24th or 26th.) See
 Booking for the Belfast event at: and
 Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins are confirmed as attending. Tickets are £35 each. Details of Belfast event are on Belfast event page
6. Comet Lovejoy: The latest comet discovered by Terry Lovejoy (his 5th!), official name C/2014 Q2, is heading North and has gradually brightened. Currently it shines at +4th magnitude, just visible to unaided eyes in a dark sky, but relatively easy in binoculars. It's currently passing through Aries, W of Taurus. IAA members have got some lovely photos of it - see the website:
 Positions and finder charts for the comet on a daily basis are on the excellent free site e.g. see
7. IFAS Calendar 2015 is now available. The Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies calendar is a monthly guide to all the key astronomical events visible from Ireland during 2015. It also lists astronomy and space anniversaries, space missions during 2015, star party dates, and much more. All money raised from the sale of the calendar will go to funding astronomy and outreach in Ireland being run under the auspices of the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies. You can see a preview at
   The price is €7.65 including postage to anywhere in Ireland/Northern Ireland. Get one for yourself and another for a family member or friend. One of the photos was taken by past IAA president Paul Evans.
   You can order the calendar via  ... 
8.  SKYHIGH Sky-High is the IAS's Irish Astronomy Almanac, published in December each year, and now in its 23rd year, since its first edition for 1993. The core sections deal with events in the sky for the year ahead, including a Diary of carefully selected events. Also included are a selection of different articles from year to year. See the Sky-High webpage ( ) for more details and on how to purchase.
9.  BEAGLE 2 DID LAND ON MARS: The Beagle 2 lander has now been imaged from orbit, showing that the craft landed successfully, but for some reason it was not able to communicate. So near to success, and yet so far. See

10.  IAA Observing Nights at Delamont Country Park

These very popular weekend observing sessions have recommenced in January with the night of 23-24 as next option. 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.…

11. NI Science Festival: 19 Feb - 1 March. More details soon, including an IAA event on 28 Feb.
12. Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015: Cdr Chris Hadfield will launch this event - by videolink! 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. 
13. 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.

There will be a feature on our eclipse trip to the Faeroes in the Irish Times on 10 January. See You can also find out more details on the eclipse blog site:

14. Safe Solar viewing material available: Baader safe viewing foil now in stock ... just in time for the big eclipse! £19 for an A4 sheet delivered. Contact Dr Andy McCrea at


15. IAA Event at Bangor, 27 March, 7 p.m:   Stars and Mars, Moon and Jupiter @ Night at The Museum 
See North Down Museum Come Alive at Night!
Bring along your telescope and get some expert advice.
Observing highlights will be a spectacular First Quarter Moon, plus Jupiter and its moons, the Pleiades and lots of other stellar wonders.
Inflatable indoor star dome
Meteorites on display.
Only £1:00 per person admission.
Coffee Cure @ The Museum will remain open until 9:00pm.
For further information telephone 028 9127 1200

16. The "Moon in 2015" is a complete annual guide to our natural satellite. A table gives you the dates for each of the Moon's phases: New, First Quarter, Full and Last Quarter. The Moon swings through these phases every 29 and 1/2 days, but did you realise the exact length of this period changes from month to month? On what dates are the "Super Moon's" for 2015? And what about the dates of Perigee and Apogee, Ascending/Descending Nodes, and Lunar Standstills? You'll find all of this as well as a recap of solar and lunar eclipse for 2015 in Jay's blog.


17. 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.

18. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member  Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea
COSMOS: April 17th to 19th 2015, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, 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.

20: Interesting Weblinks:
21. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
22. 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

No comments: