Thursday, 25 June 2015

Aurora, Grady lectures, Close conjunction, IAA BBQ, Asteroid Day, ISS Video, mor

Hi all,
1: Aurora tonight? The ongoing solar powered geomagnetic storm means that there's a chance of more auroral activity over Ireland tonight. Unfortunately the 'dark(ish) sky window' is very short at this time of year, but a bright aurora can be seen even in twilight. I looked last night, but it was cloudy, however some areas had clear sky and saw some activity. See, and
2. RIA McCREA LECTURE, 25 June: by Prof Monica Grady, CBE:
Booking is now open for the forthcoming McCrea Lecture, Are Comets the Giver and Taker of Life? by Professor Monica Grady. The lecture will take place on Thursday 25 June at 6.30pm in Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Online booking is essential as places are limited. Full price €5, Student/retired €3 for more details and booking please click here .
Professor of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University, Monica Grady was part of the science team at mission control when the landing of the Rosetta space probe occurred. In her talk she will introduce the topic of comets and explain why some people think they may have led to life on Earth and possibly its destruction through mass extinctions. She will also give a personal account of the Rosetta Mission, her involvement in it, and report on some of its latest results.
And as the Philae Lander has now come back to life, there will be much added interest in this subject! See, and if you missed it.
Monica Grady, was formerly the meteorite expert at the Natural History Museum. I 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!
3. NEW! Monica Grady to give the lecture in QUB, Belfast, on the following evening. "Are Comets the Givers and Takers of Life?" Register via the following website:
Friday 26th June, 7pm in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, Queen's University Belfast
There is no attendance fee for this presentation, but as we expect this talk to be very popular we are requesting that all people who will attend to register at the following website:
4. SOLARFEST 2015: Once again, this event at Dunsink Observatory was a great success: thanks to Hillary O'Donnell, Michael O'Donnell, and all the members of IAS, TASS and Meath AC who helped and contributed in any way.
5. Venus - Jupiter Conjunction: Watch the two brightest planets in the sky gradually come together this month until they have a close conjunction on June 30. By June 29th they will be only 45' apart. closest approach for us will be just before they set on the evening of the 30th when Venus will be just 21' below Jupiter - that's only 2/3 of a Moon diameter, so they can easily be seen in the same telescopic field of view. Before they get too low it should be possible to get an image showing both the phase of Venus, the disc of Jupiter, and its 4 Galilean Moons.
But unlike a statement in one astronomy society's report, they will NOT appear to merge! And as for this - - What an appalling headline!
Next evening they will be 30' apart, and the separation will continue to increase until Jupiter disappears in the twilight in mid-July.
Send your photos in to the IAA website
6. 26 June: Launch of Falcon 9 (Space X CRS 7) to International Space Station. The latest resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS) is scheduled for 26 June, when a Dragon cargo spacecraft will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The mission, run by the SpaceX corporation, will deliver an adaptor to enable future spacecraft to dock more easily with the Station. After a number of launch failures, many Russian rockets are grounded, so the SpaceX system is an important route for supplies to reach the ISS and its crew.
7. 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.
* Solar observing if the sky is clear.
* Tour of the historic Observatory
* Tour of the astropark and Hill of Infinity
* Try your hand at the amazing Human Orrery.
* We will have Bob Campbell and his amazing rocket-launching machine! - Many thanks to Bob (and Sean McKenna and Seanie Morris who'll be helping him)
* Special unique prize: I was delighted and amazed at Bob's special event last Saturday when he made a unique prize for the best rocket at this competition! He built his own furnace, crucible, and mould to melt and cast a solid aluminium display rocket as the prize. This is a unique item, specially made for the event, and well worth the effort.
Can anyone beat Alison Simms's amazing rocket which won the distance competition last year?
Provisional times: 14.00 -17.30.
More details in the next bulletin.
8. International Asteroid Day, 30 June. Asteroid Day is a global awareness movement where people from around the world come together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet, our families, communities, and future generations. Asteroid Day will be held on the anniversary of the 1908 Siberian Tunguska event, the largest asteroid impact on Earth in recent history. See The second illustration makes the usual mistake - an asteroid does not 'trail flames and fire' while it is still out in space - that happens only when it enters the denser part of the Earth's atmosphere

9. Leap second to be added on 30 June:
10. You Must Watch This! Timelapse Earth from ISS: Wow! And Wow again!
It would be good if they could slow it down a bit, so you can take it in better, and even see what's passing below - and above. I saw M31 and the Magellanic Clouds, and a nice comet - Lovejoy?
11. New Astronomy Workshop:
Tony O'Hanlon has started a new astronomy workshop. The details have now been uploaded to the glor website at and are also now on the IYL event page for Ireland. Starts September 5th.
12. 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!
13. BCO Space Camp and Junior Space Camp: Bookings for these very popular events is now open. See

14. Science Foundation Ireland: The latest SFI Open Call for funding proposals is looking for submissions on engaging the Irish public with science. The deadline is July 28th and you can read more about applying at

15. July 13 - 15: UK Space Conference, Liverpool. The UK Space Conference 2015 will take place from 13-15 July, at the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool. Expected to attract more than 800 delegates, the biennial conference will have the theme of 'Space Enabled Futures'. Sessions will take place on a range of topics including space, society and culture; space and the surveillance society; opportunities for business; earth observation; spaceports and spaceplanes, and space and life and biomedical sciences. See

16. 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 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:

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:

18. NASA WANTS YOU TO NAME FEATURES ON PLUTO When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto on 14 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:
19. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea
Festival of Curiosity: Dublin once again plays host this July to the annual Festival of Curiosity. The event program has not been announced yet but you can subscribe to the Festival's newsletter at the link above to learn about what is planned. Dublin Maker will take place on Saturday, June 25th in a tented village in the grounds of TCD. See for more details.
SKELLIGS Star Party: 14-16 August, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry. This is a Gold Medal winning Dark Sky site. see A great programme, with interesting speakers.

21. Interesting Weblinks
(now arranged by subject matter):
Stars hotter than they should be NB: Omega Centauri is the brightest, but not the only (globular) cluster visible to the naked eye! I've seen 5 - Omega, 47 Tuc, M5, M13 and M22.
UFOs and ALIENS, Here we go again. And I suppose there's a sphinx nearby too.... (As Curiosity has filmed many tens of thousands of rocks of all shapes, it's hardly surprising that one is pyramidal).
22. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
23. 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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