Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Lecture tonight, TV, Jupiter & Venus, ISS, Science Events, Galway SP, IFAS AofY

Hi all,
1: IAA LECTURE: Next IAA public lecture: TONIGHT, Feb 04, 7.30 p.m. by Tom O'Donoghue
"Astrophotography: From Single Pane to Mega-mosaic". This will look at medium focal length Deep Sky Astrophotography.
   Tom O'Donoghue, from Dublin, takes some of the best deep sky astrophotos you will ever see taken by any amateur astronomer. Visitors to any of the recent Irish Star Parties will have seen the amazing quality of his images. He is totally dedicated, indeed obsessed, to get the best quality images possible! Frustrated by the sky conditions in Ireland, he started travelling first to Southern France, and then Spain, to get the best possible conditions.
   As well as taking the superb shots you can see on his website he is now working on a 'mega-mosaic' of the whole Orion constellation and all its associated nebulosity, of which the best known are of course the Orion Nebula itself (M42), the 'Running Man Nebula', and the Horsehead Nebula. But there's much more!
   In this talk he will describe how he acquired his skills and his equipment, how he takes and processes the images, and describe his Orion Mega-Mosaic."
   Tom will have some of his smaller size, but same high quality, prints available for sale at £15 each.
    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.
N.B: Our last lecture on Wednesday 21 January, by well-known QUB astronomer, Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, "Rosetta at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko", was probably our best-attended 'normal' lecture ever, with about 130 people present: almost every seat was taken!. All thoroughly enjoyed an amazing and very entertaining presentation - thanks Alan.
3. Jupiter at opposition, Feb 6, Venus rising.  Jupiter will be at opposition on Feb 6, appearing at its biggest and brightest for the year mag -2.6, diam = 45.3" (arcsecs)
MUTUAL SATELLITE EVENT: Feb 7 Io will be eclipsed by the shadow of Europa: 22.05 - 22.13, Mag drop 0.7. And again on Feb 14-15, 00.20 - 00.27. Mag drop 0.8. 
Venus is now very prominent in the SW evening twilight, and getting higher in the sky at any given level of twilight.
  Watch it close in on much fainter Mars over the new few weeks, leading to a very close conjunction on Feb 21 & 22, and they will also be joined by a lovely thin crescent Moon.
  On Feb 5 Venus will lie 7.5 degrees below and right of ruddy Mars: watch that separation shrink to less than half a degree on the 21st & 22nd.
2. Documentary on Newgrange tonight:
Tonight, at 9.30pm, TG4 will be showing a documentary exploring some theories about Newgrange and comets etc., including interviews with Mike Baillie, David Asher, Dave Brown and IAA member Patrick McCafferty etc. English subtitles available.
4. ISS The ISS will commence a new series of evening passes over Ireland on February 7. 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
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. See
 Booking for the Belfast event at: and
"Outer Surface, The Origins Project", facilitates the creation of new knowledge by asking fundamental questions to better grasp our era's greatest challenges. 
   Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, two internationally famous scientists, will talk about "Life & The Universe" in Belfast on Feb 23 and in Dublin on Feb 24
Tickets are £35 each. Details of Belfast event are on Belfast event page
6. Comet Lovejoy very close to Gamma Andromedae: Terry Lovejoy's 5th comet, official name C/2014 Q2, is now high up in the Northern sky and after reaching naked-eye visibility, will soon start to fade as it moves away from both Earth and Sun. Currently it shines at between 4th and 5th magnitude, just visible to unaided eyes in a dark sky, but relatively easy in binoculars. It's currently passing through Andromeda, and tonight will pass within a binocular field of 2nd mag Gamma And.
  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 
7. New free online astronomy course via the Planetary Society
The planetary society are starting an online course introducing people to astronomy and planetary science. It's free and thought members might want to know about it. It starts today but all the lectures are archived and can be watched at a later date. Thanks to Kris Ballance for info.
8. SKY AT NIGHT BROADCAST:  Sunday 8th February at 22:00 on BBC4. They will be asking: What Have UFOs Done for Us? (A: sold lots of books, DVDs,  cinema tickets, generated lots of websites, and lately, via the Web, proved just how gullible lots of people are!)

9.  IAA Observing Nights at Delamont Country Park

These very popular weekend observing sessions have recommenced, with the nights of Feb 13 & 14 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.…

10. IFAS Astronomer of the Year:
The nominations came in for the coveted IFAS Astronomer of the Year 2014 accolade, with this year's winner rewarded to the person for helping create an astronomy event in the Northern Hemisphere's ONLY Gold Standard Dark Sky Reserve - Kerry.
The IFAS Astronomer of the Year 2014 is Roy Stewart!
Well done Roy, this is richly deserved recognition from your peers of your commitment to Irish Astronomy over the years.
Other nominations included:
Terry Moseley
Mike Foylan
Seanie Morris
John Flannery
NB: a big vote of thanks are also due to Julie Ormonde who did sterling work in getting the Kerry Gold Standard Dark Sky Reserve! T. M.
11. Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015: Cdr Chris Hadfield will launch this event - by videolink!  
Theme: "New Worlds - New Horizons"
Dark sky observing, Friday evening, Brigit's Garden (if clear)
Excellent speaker line-up, including
Professor Michael Perryman (UCD) will talk about the GAIA mission,
Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor (NUIM) will look at the Rosetta Comet mission for which her team built an instrument for the Philae lander. See 
Damian Peach: superb planetary photographer
Dr Chris Watson, QUB, on Exoplanets
Eclipse chaser Daniel Lynch
Nick Howes, Kielder Observatory, observer and science writer
Dave Grennan, discoverer of 2 asteroids and 3 supernovae – from Dublin!
Brian McGabhann, Galway: Building an Observatory
+ good craic, dark sky observing, trade and book stands, raffle, more
Venue: Westwood Hotel, Galway
12. IAA / QUB Solar day, 28 February
IAA in conjunction with QUB. Free.
11.30 – 16.00, in front of main building
Solar Observing, visual, H-alpha, Calcium
Live links to Solar satellites such as SOHO Talks in the Council Chamber in the main building. All members with solartelescopes, or a projection system, please bring them.
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


14. 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
15. Light Workshop at Blackrock Castle Observatory:

There is a partial solar eclipse in the morning of March 20. Do you know how to safely view this? Make and take away a pinhole camera and a spectroscope. Explore how lenses are used to make telescopes, experiment with prisms and use solar telescopes (weather permitting). For ages 8+. February 17 & 19. 11:00 - 12:30. €10 each. Booking and pre-payment essential Details at


16. 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.

17. 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.

19: Interesting Weblinks:
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: