Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Lectures, Jupiter, Saturn, Solarfest, IAA BBQ, NLCs, UFOs, Space Camps

Hi all,

1: Mars: Lecture in RIA, Dawson St, Dublin, tonight

Tuesday, May 26th: "Long-term and short-term climate change of Mars" lecture http://www.ucd.ie/earth/newsevents/events/

The UCD Earth Institute presents a talk in the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin) by Dr Ernst Hauber that explores current questions about the planet Mars that we are seeking answers to. Mars is a cold and dry planet, and the present surface activity is dominated by wind. But this has not always been the case: Ancient valley networks and abundant hydrated alteration minerals networks show that there must have been a time more than 3.5 billion years ago when the surface of Mars was much wetter and perhaps warmer than now. What caused the dramatic transition to the cold desert planet of today?

2. Wednesday, May 27th: "Quantum Universe" public lecture http://www.stp.dias.ie/iqf2015/

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies will host the Irish Quantum Foundations meeting this year and a public lecture will be held on May 27th in TCD as part of the event. Professor Viatcheslav Mukhanov (Arnold Sommerfeld Center Munich) will give a talk "Quantum Universe" that will explore why are atoms stable and what caused galaxies, stars and planets to form? The talk will explain why quantum physics is crucial for explaining both.

3.Two Shadow Transits on Jupiter

If you have a clear sky on the night of May 27-28, then get out your telescope to see the shadows of Io (I) and Ganymede (III) transit across the planet. The event begins when the shadow of Ganymede passes onto the disc of the planet on May 28 at 01:58 BST. The shadow of Io, the closest, and therefore fastest moon, ingresses at 03:01 BST, then egresses at 05:18 BST. The shadow of Ganymede egresses at 05:34 BST, although the sky will be too bright for the last two events. Shortly before each shadow transit begins, the moons themselves can be seen passing across the face of Jupiter.

4. RIA McCREA LECTURE, 25 June: And you must not miss the RIA lecture by Dr Monica Grady, the meteorite expert from the Natural History Museum, now at OU. I know her, and was honoured when she gave me a personal tour of their collection, including allowing me to handle the famous Allen Hills Martian meteorite - in my bare hands! Booking will open soon; see http://www.ria.ie/Events/Events-Listing/The-2015-McCrea-Lecture?utm_source=Members&utm_campaign=2f24a711d1-Members_Newsletter10_30_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_858a40b3c9-2f24a711d1-83885313

5. New Online Astronomy Magazine: First Light: http://www.firstlight-magazine.com/

6. IAA SUMMER BBQ, Sat 27 June, Armagh Observatory

Thanks to the Director, Prof Mark Bailey, and to Dr David Asher and Dr Tolis Christou who will be hosting us. Admission is free to all IAA members and guests: You bring your own food, drinks, eating utensils, plates cup, etc, and we provide the cooking facilities.

We also hope to have Bob Campbell and his amazing rocket-launching machine! Can anyone beat Alison Simms's amazing rocket which won the distance/height competition last year?

Provisional times: 14.00 -17.30.

More details in the next bulletin.

7. Saturn at its best:

Glorious Saturn is just past opposition, and thus at its best for viewing for the year. It's fairly low in the sky from Ireland, and one of the disadvantages of Summer Time (combined with our longitude W of Greenwich), is that it doesn't get to its maximum altitude in the south until well after 01.00! But once you see those beautiful rings through a large telescope in good seeing, you'll admit that the wait is well worth it!

The rings are almost fully 'open' as seen from Earth, and that also means that the satellites orbit in marked ellipses, passing noticeably N & S of the planet at each orbit.

Full details are in the last issue of STARDUST.

8. Support Ireland's bid to join ESO

Ireland must get Government support to bid to join the European Southern Observatory so that Irish researchers will have access to large optical telescopes again.

Sign the petition now to show your support!


9. SOLARFEST 2015: Saturday 20 June, Dunsink Observatory, Dublin. Tickets for Solarfest can now be booked at the DIAS web site.

See payments.dias.ie/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=44

You can book for the Public Open Night on Friday. A certain Mr Terry Moseley is the guest speaker: title: "Our Sun: Friend or Foe?"; and/or the main event on Saturday. Tea & coffee available throughout the day but bring sandwiches, etc for your lunch. It is about 10 mins drive to the Halfway House pub at the Ashtown roundabout on the Navan Road if you fancy something a bit more substantial during the lunch break.

10. NLC Season starts: NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS: NASA's AIM spacecraft has spotted a luminous patch of electric-blue drifting across the Arctic Circle. The sighting marks the beginning of the 2015 season for northern-hemisphere noctilucent clouds (NLCs). Long ago, NLCs were a polar phenomenon confined mainly to the Arctic. In recent years, however, they have intensified and spread, with sightings as far south as Utah and Colorado. Learn more about these exotic clouds and how you might see them this summer on today's edition of http://spaceweather.com.

11. UFO's - Both Sides of the Debate:

I was challenged by a 'UFO believer', who argues that there is a world-wide cover up of the fact that aliens are already here, to publicise this link to give the other side of the argument on the UFO/ Alien debate, and to show that I have an open mind, I agreed. However, I also told him that I would qualify it with some of the comments that I had made to him in various replies.


Here are some of my comments;

"Hi Chris,

I certainly agree that we are almost certainly not alone in the universe! But that doesn't mean that we have been visited! The distances involved are just too vast!

And once again, the alleged multiplicity of different visitors, over such an allegedly long time, actually argues against the 'visits' being real. If there are so many intelligent advanced civilisations in the universe, why are they all so interested in us? We have nothing special to offer, so what's in it for them? - It's a modern variation of the old Ptolemaic vision of the universe, with Earth at the centre, since we were the 'supreme creation' in the universe. The new version of that seems to be that we are so interesting to every other advanced civilisation in the galaxy (or beyond!) that they are coming here in their droves! But no-one can say why!

It's all just wishful thinking. And even the most eminent scientists and politicians and pilots, and military leaders are subject to the same psychological issues as everyone else! Just because an eminent person says something doesn't make it true.

Re Alien Abductions and Animal Mutilations:

The sheer number of reports of alien abductions and animal mutilations actually goes against them being 'alien', if you think about it logically.

Assuming that these aliens are very highly advanced (otherwise they couldn't be here), they would only need a few human specimens - male, female, young, old, white, black, etc. They would soon conclude that we're all one species, with sexual reproduction, and an ageing process. At very most they would need say 100 specimens. And if there are millions of reports of abductions, that means that at least 99.99% of them are fake, or imagined, or mistaken, or hallucinatory, or copycat, or delusional, or whatever. And if 99.99% of them are not real, then it's highly likely that NONE of them are!

Further, why don't 'they' pick subjects whose disappearance would not be missed - loners, down & outs, etc?

Finally, why are 'they' so incredibly stupid as to send them back again? Lots of people simply go missing each year, for all sorts of reasons - a hundred or so more, spread over the globe, wouldn't even be noticed!

Similarly with the 'animal mutilations' - just how many tens of thousands of times do 'they' need to examine a sheep's genitals to work out what they are for? And again the same argument applies - why not abduct the animal(s) rather than leave them lying there to arouse suspicion? (For the record, all the cases which have been examined by vets have concluded that they were done by predatory or scavenging animals.)

So one must conclude that these 'highly intelligent aliens' are actually the least logical beings, and the most incompetent biologists, in the galaxy, if not the entire universe!

Re "Mass Sightings Worldwide" - Just how many of these things are there? How come WE are so popular? And if they are worldwide, it can't just be the USA, or UK, or Russia, or China, that is keeping it all secret. If they are worldwide, EVERY country in the world must be keeping it secret. How likely is that? Do you really think China would be keeping it secret? Remember, they don't have to kowtow to the USA anymore.

Or Russia? - with Putin's relations with the USA at an all-time low?

Or North Korea? - They would blow the lid off just to spite the USA!

Re: "The Cover-Up":

IMHO there's nothing to cover up! Since now just about everybody in the developed world has a mobile phone with camera & video, and people now manage to record just about every odd and rare event and phenomenon, how come there's not even ONE clear and unambiguous image or video of an alien or a genuine alien spacecraft or an artefact?

As for the very many indistinct, blurred and otherwise dodgy images that HAVE been circulated, they beg the question - are these supposed highly advanced aliens not capable of going about their business here without being detected? For example, are they so totally stupid that they, as is claimed, fly about in broad daylight over highly populated areas such as Los Angeles?

Or if 'they' are quite happy to have their presence here widely known, why have they not made clear and open and indisputable contact via the world's media so that there could be no 'cover-up'? After all, if they really want to let us all know they're here, despite any attempts at an official cover-up, all they have to do is land one of their ships in front of all the world's media at the World Cup final, or the Olympics, etc.

- You can't have it both ways: either they are totally stupid and/or incompetent at being discrete, or else there's no cover up. Or, of course, they are not actually here at all! Yet, anyway.

Re Roswell. The original report was a very vague one about 'something that looked like a 'flying saucer'. It was only later that others jumped on the story and started elaborating it. And it may not have been a 'weather balloon'- much more likely what was then a secret military experimental craft of some sort, which, surprise, surprise, they wanted to keep secret! Hence the story about a weather balloon. And the denial of access to reporters etc. But the 'alien autopsy', which is a complete fake, just shows what people will do to try to promote their cause.

As for Rendlesham, as I said, eyewitness reports are notoriously unreliable - no matter who they are from. Yes, something happened, and was seen in part - but what? If the report had been from your own brother, or father, that wouldn't make it any more reliable! I'm not accusing anyone of lying - just that it's easy to be mistaken.

I was interviewed for a documentary on the "Livingston Case", aka the "Robert Taylor incident" (see for example http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/ufo-investigator-claims-answer-one-2837456, and http://www.scotsman.com/news/odd/tv-show-to-probe-famous-livingston-ufo-encounter-1-2627348) and I researched it very thoroughly (including witnesses not mentioned in the above links) and I can assure you that there were significant discrepancies in the various stories that were told. And yet I have no reason to believe that any of them were lying - just different recollections: humans are fallible after all!

I reckon that in 10, or 20, years time this sort of correspondence will still be happening - the believers will still be arguing that 'they' are here, even though there will still (I predict!) be no conclusive evidence.

And others will still be arguing that the Pyramids were built by aliens, or with their help; and that the Apollo Astronauts didn't go to the Moon; and that Atlantis really was an advanced civilisation on a large island which sank beneath the sea; and that Noah's Ark really does rest somewhere on Mt Ararat. And others will still be arguing that Velikovsky was right, and Graham Hancock will still be writing his books, and so on, and so on.

The rich panoply of human life, I suppose.

You asked me not long ago - "How long can the cover-up continue?" - Well, that question has been asked for at least 50 years! And if it really was/is a cover up, it would all be totally exposed by now. And I mean exposed: not just speculations and allegations.


See also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3093311/What-Martian-images-Former-worker-claims-proof-aliens-female-bio-robotic-creatures.html

Typical 'wishful thinking' images; they show nothing unusual, but if you WANT to see aliens, robots, & 'robots with breasts' (for feeding baby robots?!?) you'll see them.

12. BCO Space Camp and Junior Space Camp: Bookings for these very popular events is now open. See www.bco.ie

13: IAU Outreach Newsletter, May 2015;

IAU Astronomy Outreach Newsletter 2015 #6 (May 2015 #2)

http://www.iau.org/public/publications/newsletter/2015_06/ ]

14. Belfast Space Camp, 27 July:

Great to see one of our third level vocational colleges getting involved in the 'space' theme and offering this program.

Attendees will be able to use this course and outputs as part of their accreditation for the Space Science Technology qualification in NI. We will also use the Camp to promote World Space Week and the Principia mission.

Go to http://belfastspacecamp.eventbrite.co.uk

to find out more and register online.


Cosmic Light EDU kit

A. The Cosmic Light EDU kit has been launched! The main goal for this project is to involve schools around the globe in awareness campaigns for light pollution and to discover the nature of light. The project has assembled an educational kit, with simple resources and activities to support teachers. There are many and varied networks involved in this project so participants can benefit from many opportunities for a rich cultural interchange. The project aims to target diverse social and cultural audiences, and there is a special component designed for children with visual impairment incorporated in the kit to promote inclusivity. The kit will have printable materials, several digital tools and resources and training efforts will be implemented in order to empower teachers to make full use of the kit The campaign will reach teachers and students in 100 countries around the world.

Take a closer look at all the resources featured in the Comic Light EDU kit here: http://nuclio.org/cosmiclightedukit/

B. Cosmic Light IYL2015: Dark Sky Meter app

The IAU Cosmic Light programme has just released the Dark Sky Meter (DSM) app for iPhones free of charge! All you have to do is point your phone at the night sky, and it measures the night sky brightness for you. Then, you can use the IYL DSM app to submit your measurement easily. All measurements will be entered into the Globe at Night database and be used by researchers.

The DSM IYL2015 app is already available for free on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/app/dsm-lite/id626796278?mt=8


When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto this July, the spacecraft's high-resolution cameras will spot many new landforms on the dwarf planet's unexplored surface. They are all going to need names—and NASA wants you to help. FULL STORY: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2015/21apr_pluto/

17. 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.


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.

19. Interesting Weblinks (now arranged by subject matter):




Is there life on distant moons? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520082618.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28Space+%26+Time+News+--+ScienceDaily%29

IMPACTS / EARTH HISTORY. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3096111/Did-massive-asteroid-turn-Earth-boiling-SPRING-3-3bn-years-ago-Impact-vapourised-planet-s-oceans.html


Radio Astronomy

Fast Radio Bursts mystery signals



Curiosity plans route on Mars: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150523101406.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28Space+%26+Time+News+--+ScienceDaily%29

Curiosity Instrument sharpens vision http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150523101723.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28Space+%26+Time+News+--+ScienceDaily%29

Auroras on Mars http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150523102104.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

The ultimate Moon photo: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3092700/Now-super-moon-Image-32-000-photographs-shows-pockmarked-lunar-surface-brilliant-detail.html

Mars supervolcano? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3091909/Does-Mars-SUPERVOLCANO-Researchers-spot-giant-crater-say-Red-Planets-Yellowstone.html. I'm glad to say the Prof Emeritus Paul Mohr agrees with me that it's much more likely to be a double impact crater than a supervolcano!

Gaia's information on asteroids: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520100529.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28Space+%26+Time+News+--+ScienceDaily%29


Space-X launch abort rocket test http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3093515/Blast-space-100mph-1-2-seconds-SpaceX-releases-dizzying-new-footage-Dragon-Launch-Abort-Test.html. That would push your eyeballs out through the back of your head! At least that's what it would feel like!

MARS ONE Hopefuls: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-3089221/Special-report-life-Mars.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3088517/Top-secret-X-37B-space-plane-blast-tomorrow-morning-don-t-know-orbit-back.html Errr, that's because it's Top-secret!

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/05/22/perm-russia-weird-sky-video_n_7421878.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cuk%7Cdl17%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D353130 Probably a rocket launch, as you can see two, maybe three objects in the later stages, which could be 3rd stage booster separating. But launched from where?

Join Nasa's New historic mission to Pluto: contact: Promotions@simulationcurriculum.com

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3089703/LightSail-begins-voyage-Solar-sail-spacecraft-launches-test-revolutionary-technology-Earth-orbit.html The trouble is that it takes so long to go any distance that the onboard systems may not survive for that long.


Odd shape of galaxy merger http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150525100810.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_technology+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Technology+News%29

Old odd star: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150521133517.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28Space+%26+Time+News+--+ScienceDaily%29

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3091827/Nasa-spots-luminous-galaxy-universe-shining-light-300-TRILLION-suns.html Surely the acronym should be 'Elirgs'?

The dreadful beauty of the Medusa Nebula: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520083126.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

Supernova collides with its companion star http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520133557.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

Supernova ignition surprise http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520133600.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

The Very Hungry Galaxy: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520193835.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29



20. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.

21. 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 you. You can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button. See also www.irishastro.org.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

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