Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Newgrange Archaeoastronomy trip, CME, Progress Re-entry, TV, BBQ, ESO, Solarfest

Hi all,

1: ARCHAEOASTRONOMY TRIP TO NEWGRANGE and KNOWTH, 9 May. Booking is about to close! I will be leading the third of these trips, organised by Stranmillis College Institute of Lifelong Learning. The trip will include a visit to Newgrange, the oldest known astronomical construction in the world, and a UN World Heritage site. It is known throughout the astronomical and archaeology worlds as an amazing example of mankind's early exploration of his relationship with the cosmos. This trip will include a visit to the Knowth Megalithic Tomb as well, which has the largest collection of Megalithic art anywhere in Europe in one single site, some of which is reckoned to be astronomical.

It needs to be booked directly with Stranmillis, via,456138,en.pdf. Scroll down to P 14. The course number is G1411.

2. CME from SUN - slight chance of Aurora:

(CME) X-FLARE: Emerging sunspot AR2339 unleashed an intense X2-class solar flare on May 5th at approximately 22:11 UT. Radiation from the flare caused strong radio blackouts on the Pacific side of Earth, interfering with communications at frequencies below ~20 MHz. The blast also hurled a CME into space, but not toward Earth. This event could herald a sustained period of high solar activity, as AR2339 appears to be large and explosive

Although the main part of that CME will miss the Earth, it's worth keeping a look out for aurora over the next few nights just in case.

3. PROGRESS SUPPLY CRAFT to burn up on re-entry soon.

The unmanned supply ship for the ISS failed to achieve a proper docking orbit, and is now tumbling out of control, heading for a re-entry into the atmosphere sometime within the next few days.

Its orbital inclination is 51.81 degrees, so it just passes over the S tip of Ireland, and that's therefore the only part of the island on which any bits could fall - although the chances of that are very remote!

I've been following the orbit of this object, and it is currently decaying significantly with each orbit. On the evening of 1 May, the perigee was 187.69km, and occurred just after it has reached its most northerly declination (which is obviously 51.81 deg N) - round about a latitude of 48.7 degrees.

The last orbit had a perigee of 165.99km, so it has dropped by about 22km already. And the apogee point has dropped even more, from about 260km to 208.66km on the last orbit. More significantly, the perigee point has shifted forwards in the orbit, now occurring at a latitude of about 27.8 degrees, and longitude of about 3.6 deg West. If that trend continues, it is unlikely to come down in Ireland. However, it is just possible that the S half of the Island might see the fireball as it enters the denser part of the upper atmosphere. I'll issue another update later when more info is available.

4. May's "Sky At Night"This Month's programme is on 'Venus, Earth's twin'.

Sunday 10th May BBC4 at 22:00

Monday 11th May BBC4 at 02:30

Thursday 14th May BBC4 at 19:30

5. 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. More details in the next bulletin.

6. 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!

7. SOLARFEST 2015: Saturday 20 June, Dunsink Observatory, Dublin. Details tba.


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:

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:


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.


10. 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.

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


New Galaxy distant record, over 13bn LY away: or -

In a galaxy far, far, far far away.....



The Chicxulub impact and the Deccan volcanoes


The ultimate clock, accurate to 1 second per 15 bn years!


Briny water on Mars

Mimas image


Satellite 'Traffic Control System' for Mars

Mars explorers please note

Space-X tests "Crew Dragon"

Showering in the ISS

What 'Dark Side of the Moon'????

Mars-One - But it could well be by the time they're ready to launch!


Star formation in ancient galaxies

Black Holes consuming huge amounts of matter

Pillars of Creation are crumbling


UFOs / ALIENS etc|NSNS|2015-0505-GLOBAL-humanuniverse&utm_medium=EMP&utm_source=NSNS&utm_campaign=concept&utm=humanuniverse&cmpid=EMP|NSNS|NSSUB-2015-0505

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

14. 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 you. You 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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