Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Lectures, ISS, Comet Lovejoy, Science event, IFAS, Death, IT job, IAA Obs nights

Hi all,
1: IAA LECTURE: Next IAA public lecture: Wednesday 7 January, QUB, at 7.30 p.m. It will be given by well-known Irish amateur astronomer, John Flannery. Title: The Sky by Eye – How to Rediscover the Soul of Astronomy
   Arthur C. Clarke once described the Universe as a device contrived for the perpetual astonishment of astronomers. Anyone can discover that sense of wonder. You just have to look up. It's a common belief you need some form of optical equipment to witness those astonishing sights but that is not the case. The Sky by Eye is a list that encourages people to observe the Universe with the unaided eye. It comprises 110 sky objects and phenomena ranging from the whimsical to challenging. Examples include studying the colours of the Moon, tracking a planet through its opposition loop, using a UHC filter to observe deep-sky objects with the unaided eye, observing the broad spectrum of atmospheric optics, and even building medieval astronomical instruments.
   The beauty of the Sky by Eye list is that you can delve deeper into areas such as meteor observing or revisit some aspects as your awareness grows. You may take a lifetime to tick off all the sights but the goal is to open your eyes to understanding and appreciating the rhythms of the sky, as well as build a foundation to enhance your enjoyment of astronomy. The list draws on the work of others including Joe Orman, Fred Schaaf, and Chet Raymo who all touch the soul of why we are naturalists of the night.
   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.
NB: Glasses found after last lecture: a small pair of reddish glasses was found in the toilet outside the Bell lecture theatre after the last lecture. We gave them to Ernst de Mooij (the speaker, from QUB) for safe keeping. He said he would hold on to them and give them to reception for collection.
2. ISS The ISS has just started another series of morning passes over Ireland. Full details for your own location, along with lots of other up to date astronomical information, on the excellent FREE site www.heavens-above.com.
3. Public Lecture, UCD, 12 Jan: There will be a public talk by Professor Luigi Piro on the "The Hot and Energetic Universe with the X-ray Observatory Athena", due to take place at 6pm on the 12th of January. The talk will be held in the Moore Auditorium, O'Brien Centre, UCD Campus.
More information on the talk and registration can be found here:
4. Major Science Event, 23 February (+ 24th or 26th 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 http://youtu.be/2uvQoiPjF6s
 Booking for the Belfast event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1525789667672746/ and
 Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins are confirmed as attending. Tickets are £35 each. Details of Belfast event are on Belfast event page https://www.facebook.com/events/1525789667672746/
5. New Comet Lovejoy: A new comet discovered by Terry Lovejoy (his 5th!), official name C/2014 Q2, is heading North and has gradually brightened. Currently it shines at +5th magnitude, just visible to unaided eyes in a very dark sky, but relatively easy in binoculars. It's currently passing through N. Eridanus, W of Rigel in Orion. See http://www.opednews.com/Generic/Astronomy_Dec_25_2014
We got a nice view in binocs after our New Year Party at the Tudor Cinema outside Comber on Saturday.    The comet will make its closest approach to Earth on January 7, at a distance of 45 million miles. It should be visible to the unaided eye from a dark sky if you know where to look.
 Positions and finder charts for the comet on a daily basis are on the excellent free site www.heavens-above.com e.g. see http://www.heavens-above.com/comet.aspx?cid=C%2F2014%20Q2&
Or you can use the attached chart.
6. 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 https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/25805353/Documents/IFAS2015CalendarPreview.pdf
   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 http://www.irishastronomy.org/ifaspaypal.html  ... 
7. Death of Michael Scully: I regret to have to inform you of the death of Michael Scully, long-time member of Kerry Astronomy Club, who passed away suddenly. Michael was one of the core members, a driving force behind Kerry AC. He managed their Facebook page and their website. Details of his funeral are as follows:
   The late Michael Scully of Mounthawk Manor, Tralee and formerly of Kanturk, Cork. Reposing at his residence in Mounthawk Manor on Wednesday from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. Removal at 5.30pm Wednesday to Our Lady & St. Brendan's Church. Requiem Mass on Thursday at 11am. Interment afterwards in Réalt na Mara Cemetery, Churchill. Donations in lieu of flowers to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, care of the Gleasure Funeral Home.
8. Armagh Observatory: Recruiting a Computer Systems Manager
  Full details about the post and an application form may be downloaded from the Armagh Observatory website (www.arm.ac.uk/jobs/) or obtained by writing to: Human Resources, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh BT61 9DG. Completed applications must be returned to arrive no later than 3pm on 30 January 2015.  It is the responsibility of candidates to meet this deadline, and late applications will not be considered.
10. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member  Enquiries to David Stewart david.stewart22@ntlworld.com or Andy McCrea s.mccrea980@btinternet.com.


11.  IAA Observing Nights at Delamont Country Park

These very popular weekend observing sessions will recommence in January with the night of 16-17 as first 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: www.irishastro.org 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.…

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.

There will be a feature on our eclipse trip to the Faeroes in the Irish Times on 10 January. 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/

13. 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 s.mccrea980@btinternet.com


14. 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. http://www.astropixels.com/blog/2014/12/moon-in-2015/


15. 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.

NI Science Festival: 19 Feb - 1 March. More details soon, including an IAA event on 28 Feb.
Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015, NEWSFLASH: Cdr Chris Hadfield will launch this event! 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 http://www.galwayastronomyclub.ie/index.php/archive Check for latest updates. 
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 www.skelligstarparty.com
AI 'Star-B-Q': 15 August, An Tochar GAA Grounds, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.

17: Interesting Weblinks:
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/12/29/coffin-found-on-mars_n_6389284.html We'll have to undertake a check on that one. And then bury the story, as it's gravely in error.
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/12/31/space-travel-nasa-warp-technology_n_6399796.html Quote "The duo are also building a seven foot square ship to test the warp drive system, which they believe will be able to hover by next summer (2015)". I'll bet anyone £1000 at 100-1 that they won't succeed even by 31/12/2015. i.e. if they do, you win £1000. If they don't you pay £10. Any takers?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2897082/Wolf-Moon-shines-bright-moon-2015-kicks-month-celestial-delights-stargazers.html As we're a bit short of wolves in this part of the world, the Wolf Moon moniker isn't very appropriate for us. Can anyone think of a better name with local relevance? Since January is usually the coldest month of the year, and if the sky is clear so that one can see the Moon, then it will be extra cold. So how about the 'Cold Moon'?
18. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
19. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is easy: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc
    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 www.irishastro.org
Finally: A Very Happy New Year to everyone, and good viewing.
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

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