Wednesday, 11 March 2015

TV, Talk, Planets, ISS, Eclipse events, Observing, Lecture, OpenNight AP, Bangor

Hi all,
1: Lecture, Lisburn, Wed 11 March. "Comets in Irish Mythology" 7.30 p.m., Oak Room, Island Centre, Lisburn: Speaker: Prof Mike Baillie. Prof Baillie is well known to IAA members, and further afield, for his original and fascinating theories about the connection between comets and various well-known figures and stories in Irish Mythology. Admission free, all welcome.
2. TV: HORIZON "AFTERSHOCK: The Hunt For Gravitational Waves". 10 March, 9 pm. BBC2. 
This will cover the results of the BICEP2 experiment at the South Pole, which claimed to have discovered the gravitational waves from the Big Bang, thus confirming the Inflationary Model of the Standard Theory of Cosmology. Fascinating. (Sorry this went out too late to watch it live, but you have various options to catch it now)
3. IAA LECTURE: Next IAA public lecture:  Mar 18, 7.30 p.m. by Paul Evans: "The Large Partial Solar Eclipse of March 20th".  Everything you need to know about the large partial solar eclipse on March 20.
* How and why it happens
* IAA public outreach locations: QUB;  Scrabo Tower car park, Newtownards;  Chaine Memorial Park, Larne;  Seafront car park, Portballintrae.
* Observing it yourself
* Imaging it
* Eye Safety
      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.
4. Jupiter. Jupiter was at opposition in Feb, and is still appearing almost at its biggest and brightest for the year mag -2.6, diam = 45" (arcsecs).
Mar 11; 20.29 to 20.35: Io will be eclipsed by the Shadow of Europa. drop in brightness = 0.7 magnitudes
Mar 16, 01.33 to 01.44: Europa will be occulted by Callisto, with a drop in combined brightness on 0m.8 magnitudes.
    Is this a Jovian case of 'What colour is the dress?? - To me, in this image, it appears pink, not white!
As for the text -
1. The GRS does not normally appear a deep red - not even red at all now, but a sort of salmon colour. You can see that colour quite clearly, as the GRS is visible at the very bottom centre of the photo showing the 3 moons.
2. The first, infrared, photo must have been taken several years ago, as Ganymede is orbiting at quite a high inclination - it currently orbits almost exactly over Jupiter's equator.
3. That photo also shows 2 shadows. From E to W across the disc (bottom L to top R), it shows
Europa, Callisto, Shadow of Europa, Shadow of Callisto, Io.
Note how much bigger, and darker, Callisto is than Europa! Callisto has quite a low albedo, whereas Europa is very reflective because it's covered in ice. That's why Europa appears brighter than Callisto to us, even though it's much smaller:
Europa. diam 3122km, mag 5.3
Callisto: diam 4820km, mag 5.6.
4. Note also the yellowish colour of Io, caused by the sulphurous deposits on its surface.
5. Note that while the satellite edges are sharp, the shadows have fuzzy outlines, as they comprise a black total solar eclipse on Jupiter in their centres, with a partial eclipse surrounding the totality.
6. Although the text says the photo was taken on Jan 23, that must be local time, as it was actually taken on 24 Jan at about 07.10 UT.
5. Venus Is now visible in a dark sky; a brilliant beacon in the West, and it becomes visible even in bright twilight if you look carefully. It's now mag -4.0, and significantly brighter than Jupiter's mag -2.5. Because the magnitude scale is a log scale, that means that Venus is actually 4 times as bright as Jupiter.
6. ISS The ISS will commence another series or morning passes over Ireland on 13 March. 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 

7. IAA Observing Nights at Delamont Country Park

These very popular weekend observing sessions have recommenced, with the nights of Mar 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.…

8. Spring Equinox: The Earth will cross the celestial equator Northwards on 20 March at 22.45, marking the start of Northern spring.


9. Armagh Observatory St Patrick's Day Event "Discovering the Sun and Stars at Armagh" Tuesday 17th March 2015, 11.45 a.m. A Free Morning Public Lecture, with Afternoon Tour of Observatory Including the New Sound Installation "aroundNorth".
   The Armagh Observatory is providing a Free Public Lecture on the Sun and the 20th March Great Partial Eclipse by Dr Eamon Scullion; and in the afternoon starting at 2.30pm, a Free Public Tour of the main Observatory Building. These will include an explanation of the new multi-speaker sound installation "aroundNorth" by the award-winning composer Robert Jarvis.
10. LARGE PARTIAL SOLAR ECLIPSE, 20 MARCH: The IAA is finalising plans for SAFE public viewing of this really major event, at various locations around N.I. It will occur in the morning, with maximum eclipse around 9.30 a.m. These will include Portballintrae, Co Antrim; QUB in Belfast, Scrabo Tower car park, near Newtownards, and the Chaine Memorial Park at Larne seafront. More details in next bulletin. Details of the eclipse itself were given in the last issue of our magazine STARDUST; I'll be updating and expanding these in the next bulletin.
SEE ALSO:  Never trust what you read in the papers! Of course there will be several more Total Solar Eclipses before 2026! In 2016 and 2017 for a start.
Request: Eclipse viewing in L'Derry (From Prof Mark Bailey, Armagh Observatory)
We are doing an outreach event at St Cecilia's College, Londonderry, timed to coincide with the partial eclipse of the Sun on Fri 20th morning; and then a performance of "aroundNorth" that evening in a nearby housing estate in the same part of Derry, from around 7pm to 9pm. I was wondering whether any IAA members might be able/willing to travel to the site (particularly in the evening) to provide telescope-viewing
opportunities that evening (if clear) to complement the aroundNorth event. We could provide some financial assistance through the provision of a small mileage payment at the usual rate of 45p per mile.

   If there are any IAA members in that area who would be prepared to help out with this event, please contact Prof Bailey directly at 
11. Eclipse event at Armagh Observatory, 20 March:
Any IAA members in the area with solar observing equipment are invited to go to the Human Orrery at the Observatory early that morning (from 7.45 a.m) to share in showing the eclipse to members of the public.
12. IAS Eclipse Observing at Dunsink Observatory
Irish Astronomical Society (IAS) members and friends are invited to Dunsink Observatory on the morning of March 20th next to view the partial solar eclipse. Observing will take place from 8:30 am to 10:30 am.
Throughout the event we will have a number of solar telescopes available and we will also have eclipse shades for distribution to our members. For those arriving early, Dr.Colm Coughlan, at 7:45 am. will give a thirty minute talk entitled " What has the sun ever done for us ". Please note places for this talk are limited and booking is advisable and available on the Dunsink website. This event is free with parking on site.
13. 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 19. 11:00 - 12:30. €10 each. Booking and prepayment essential Details at

14. Open night at Armagh Planetarium: Tuesday 24th March 2015
Suitability: Public – Over 6 years for Theatre Show
Times: open 7pm – 9pm. Beyond the Blue Digital Theatre Show 7.30pm
Cost: FREE
Booking: Phone on 028 3752 3689
Pre-Booking is essential as there is a limited number of tickets
15. 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

And from Peter Paice: See also: Information re ND filters. There is a good site to visit . There are ND 1000 filters shown; prices £20 - £35 depending on diameter. These filters look like the polyester type.  (I think that you would need several of these filters stacked to give safe imaging of the Sun, but I haven't tried them, and you try them at your own risk! TM)


16. 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
17. Course on Newgrange at QUB, 28 March.
Dr Patrick McCafferty will be giving a 1-day course on Newgrange on Saturday 28 March from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm - as part of Queens University Belfast's Open Learning programme. It's called 'Solving the Mystery of Newgrange'. The course can be booked on-line:
18. IAA AGM. The IAA's AGM will be held on 15 April. Details are in the attached document.

19. COSMOS: April 17th to 19th 2015, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone.

Speakers include - Professor John Zarnecki, Director, International Space Science Institute, Switzerland.
- Mr. Brian Harvey, Spaceflight Writer and Broadcaster.
- Mr. Nick Howes, Astronomer and Freelance Science Writer.
- Ms. Kate Russo, Author, Psychologist and Eclipse Chaser.
- Mr. Keith Geary, Astronomer and Astrophotographer.
- Mr. Steve Richards, Author, Astronomer and Astrophotographer.
- Ms. Deirdre Kelleghan, St. Cronan's Stargazers and Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies.
- Mr. Emmett Mordaunt, Midlands Astronomy Club.
   The programme also includes an all-inclusive trip on Sunday morning to Birr Castle and stand in the shadow of the Leviathan, once the world's largest telescope.


20. ARCHAEOASTRONOMY TRIP TO NEWGRANGE and KNOWTH, 9 May 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.

21. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member  Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea
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.
Artist Anne Corry has just produced an artwork based on the concept of the Astronomer in the modern world.  It is a limited edition print and ut might have some appreciative audience within the IAA. Details from 
24. Interesting Weblinks: Spectacular, but a lot of trickery here!
Photo 2 is not a trail, but a zoom lens has been zoomed during the fairly short exposure, with the foreground shot with a fixed lens added later
Photo 4 is a composite of a fixed photo of the house and foreground, while the lens has been zoomed during the long exposure, giving the spiral effect.
Photo 5 shows the effect of a very slight progressive defocusing during the exposure, which emphasises the colours - a technique first developed by David Malin several decades ago!
Photo 6: Contrary to the text, the Zoom has NOT been used during this exposure!
The other photos are 'natural', with the distortions from circles in the corners of some being simply due to the very wide angle lens.
Am I being very naive, or is that bright halo surrounding the shadow not just an example of the 'Opposition Effect' where you get an enhanced reflection because the Sun is directly behind the spacecraft, and thus its light is being reflected back the way it came, i.e. with an almost zero angle of incidence / reflection on individual particles on the surface? Another way of describing it is that each particle, of whatever size, is hiding its own shadow, so that area appears brighter.
   Certainly, that's an effect that one would EXPECT in such circumstances.
   Also, it's not true that the fuzziness of the shadow is caused by the bright glow - it's simply the normal fuzziness you get with any penumbral shadow. Check any photo of a Total Solar Eclipse on Earth as taken from space and you see how fuzzy the shadow edge is. Also the penumbral edges of the shadows of Jupiter's Moons on the planet's disc as shown in another news item in this bulletin  I'm sure Harrison Ford would see the funny side of these, in spite of his injuries. Wishing him a speedy recovery!  Cox was being generous when he described Tredinnick as being 'an outlier on the spectrum of reason'. To me, he's not on the spectrum of reason at all; but well into the spectrum of superstition.
25 TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
26. 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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