Saturday, 11 July 2015

Pluto, Rosetta/Philae, ISS, IAA Solar Day, Oculus Rift, Summer space camps

Hi all,
1. New Horizons almost at Pluto!
2. 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:, and
4. ISS The ISS will start another series of morning passes over Ireland on 18 July, and will then remain visible as it transitions to evening passes, until 16 August! details for your own location on the excellent and free
5. Venus - Jupiter Conjunction, 30 June: I hope you all saw this, minimum separation visible from here was about 21 arcminutes: some nice photos on the IAA website: However, I have to comment on misleading statements by Astronomy Ireland who have asserted several times that this event won't be bettered (in Ireland) for well over 100 years, in spite of my pointing out to them that this was not true.
For the record, the following conjunctions of Jupiter and Venus will be 'better' than that one: i.e. closer together, and at least as easily visible at a reasonable height, in a darkish sky.
Several are MUCH better than that one!
2039, Nov 12, a.m. Separation 18' 25" at altitude 25 deg.
2063, Nov 09, at 04.00: separation 20' 29", altitude 5 deg, in a dark sky.
2082: Mar 06, At 19.00, the separation will be ONLY 2' 41", at altitude 7 deg 20', with the Sun 8 deg below the horizon!
2097, Aug 29. At 04.00 the separation will be ONLY 5' 13", alt = 9 deg 13', Sun 13 deg below horizon.
2106 Mar 13, at about 19.15 the separation will be 14' 34", alt 9 deg 36', sun 8 deg 21' below horizon.
6. IAA Solar Day, WWT, Castle Espie. The next popular IAA solar outreach day will be on 2 August. More details in next bulletin.
7. Oculus Rift joins with Stellarium:
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. BCO Space Camp and Junior Space Camp: Bookings for these very popular events is now open. See

10. Armagh Planetarium: News shows, and Train like a Jedi: See

11. 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

12. 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

13. Dublin Astronomy Cycle to Dunsink Observatory - Fri 24th July, 9 p.m., with stargazing. See
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 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 Cosmic 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:

16. 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.

18. Interesting Weblinks
(now arranged by subject matter):
Black Hole awakens
Less matter in the universe than we thought? So what about the density of matter in the universe, the Cosmological Constant, dark energy etc?
Another erroneous illustration - the asteroid will not be glowing red-hot BEFORE it enters Earth's atmosphere! Such an impact would cause huge damage & a major death toll, but would NOT wipe out all human life. After all, a lot of life survived the VERY MUCH greater impact that killed the dinosaurs.
A nice composition, but fake in so many ways!
1. Eclipse was not total over London.
2. Sun is far too big compared with curvature of Earth
3. Sun is far too big compared with Milky Way
4. Milky Way is not visible during TSE exposure, even from ISS
5. The direction of the Sun is wrong - it was nowhere near the MW as seen from London
6. The ISS was not over London during mid-eclipse
Various errors in this report:
1. Having the base at an altitude of 2.5 miles will not increase atmospheric pressure, it will decrease it! For maximum pressure, the base needs to be at as low an elevation as possible!
2. The problem of CO2 ingress via the airlock is negligible.
A. There will be no ingress of CO2 as an astronaut exits.
B. When the astronaut enters the airlock again, there will be Martian CO2 in the airlock - but the pressure on Mars is so low (less than 1% of that on Earth), that the actual amount of gas will be minute. Then when the pressure in the airlock is increased by letting in air from the base, most of that air will be nitrogen and oxygen (as on Earth), so that the total percentage of CO2 in that mixture will again be very low - at most a few percent. When the astronaut steps back into the base again and the airlock shuts behind him/her, only a tiny amount of the airlock gas will enter the base. And it would be almost a zero amount if the pressure in the base was a little bit higher than in the airlock.
The greatest CO2 problem by far will simply be the amount that the astronauts themselves breathe out!
3. And there will be no significant difference in the way liquids behave in 3/8 Earth gravity compared with 1.0 Earth gravity. They will still stay in the bottom of any container, and if any is spilled it will still fall to the floor - just a bit more slowly. The only minor difference is that the meniscus where a liquid touches the side of a vessel will be a bit higher, because there's less gravity to hold it down. Also, any mixture of liquids of different densities will take a bit longer to settle out, but that should not be a problem. Oil will still float on water for example, and a lava lamp would still work - just a bit more slowly.
Once again, the whole scheme seems to be about 95% imagination!
JWST to study 'Exo-Earths'
19.TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
20. 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

1 comment:

Blogger said...

I would like to suggest that you stick with the most recommended Forex broker.