Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Major Lecture, INAM, Tullamore, Comet latest, Mars hoax, Astrofest x 2.

Hi all,
1. Michael West Lecture: Exoplanets and the search for extraterrestrial life, by Professor Ignas Snellen (Leiden Observatory, Leiden University)
Thursday 27th August, 7:30pm; Larmor Lecture Theatre, QUB
Free Admission: Jointly presented by the QUB Astrophysics Research Centre and the IAA.
A true revolution is unfolding in the study of planets orbiting other stars than the Sun. Soon we can start to search for life on planets like Earth. Do we know what to look for, and what to expect?
Professor Ignas Snellen from Leiden University is a world leading expert on the study of exoplanet atmospheres using ground-based telescopes.
We expect this lecture to be very popular, so everyone who is coming along needs to register for this talk. For more information and to register, please go to
(Actually, there are likely to be some seats available, so even if you haven't registered, go along and you'll probably get in - and it's free.
2. INAM, QUB, 26-28 AUGUST - REGISTRATION. A FINAL reminder about the major astronomy event in Ireland of 2015 - the Irish National Astronomy Meeting (INAM), organised by the ASGI (Astronomical Science Group of Ireland). It will be held at Queen's University Belfast, from 26 - 28 August - details at Information on the 2nd Irish National Astronomy Meeting (INAM 2015, August 26-28, QUB) can now be viewed on the ASGI's website:
Members of affiliated organisations such as the Irish Astronomical Association are entitled to the special discounted rate of £15 (NOTE CORRECTION!!) for the whole conference (extra for the dinner of course!)
Although early registration is now closed, it should still be possible to attend, though not to present papers or posters. More details later.
I hope to see lots of you there.
3. Tullamore event
The Global Explorers' Museum Film Festival will be held in Charleville Castle, Tullamore 4-6th September.
The theme this year is the Exploration of Canada and the event will be launched by Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers.
There will be documentaries (e.g. exploration of an active volcano caldera), a StarBQ, visiting world explorers, film-makers and drams of whisky, all in the wondrously gothic setting of Charleville Castle. Tickets available for film festival are available on:
(via Maria Cullen - thanks)
4. Astronomy Festival, Herstmonceux, Sussex, 4-6 Sep.
Herstmonceux is the former site of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, before it moved its observing to La Palma, and has 6 major telescopes still there, and a very good science centre. well worth a visit.
I have the honour to be one of the speakers at this festival, so if you're in the area at the time, you're welcome to come along.
5. Comet 67P C-G - latest
6. Mars Hoax goes round again
"Mars will appear as big as a full Moon on August 27th." I've already had a press enquiry about this story, which goes around the Internet every year about this time. It arose from the very close approach of Mars on 27 August 2003, when it was at its closest to Earth for the past 60,000 years (a story which I broke!).
Someone wrote in a newspaper article that when viewed through a telescope, "Mars would appear as big as the Full Moon", and that story got corrupted by leaving out the 'telescope' bit, and was spread by those who don't know any better.
Of course, you can make Mars look as big as the Full Moon in a telescope any time, if you use enough magnification!
But be prepared to answer daft questions about this in the next few days!
7. Send your name to Mars: The cutoff date is Sep 8th for you to send your name to Mars. NASA is putting names on their Insight Mars lander, launching next March, link is mars.nasa/gov.participate/send-your-name/insight/ (Thanks to Derek Heatly for the alert)
8. ASTROFEST LA PALMA 2015. Sep 25 - Oct 8, La Palma (Canary Islands)
Astrofest is a Festival of Astronomy that will bring together professionals of astronomy, astrophotography, and astro-tourism, with activities for all ages & public. The events include the II International Conference Astrotourism (25-27 Sept), the 1st International Nightscape Photography Conference (29 Sept-2 Oct),
the 4th edition of
AstroMaster La Palma (3-8 Oct) & and event on September 28th to enjoy a total lunar eclipse.

La Palma possesses certain unique environmental features recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. More than one third of its surface area is protected land, the highlight of which is the Caldera de Taburiente National Park. Its landscape is the result of a dramatic formation process that took millions of years. At its highest point, over 2400m above sea level, the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory
rises above the "sea of clouds" where the atmosphere is clear and stable thanks to the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, this is considered one of the best places on earth to observe the sky. La Palma is the world's first Starlight Reserve.
Also, we would like to kindly ask you to support us and share information of the AstroFest ( among your followers and possible participants as much as possible. Full press release here: AstroFest announcement
Your support is kindly appreciated. When possible, please send us a quick note when you shared info on your social media, so we can re-share as well.
(From Ana Maria Suarez)
9. Congrats to Deirdre Kelleghan:
Deirdre has a three page feature on Lunar sketching in the September issue of the BBC Sky at Night Magazine - pages 44, 45, and 46 . Very well done on that!
10. ISS. Will return to our skies on 11 Sep with another series of morning passes.
11. SKELLIGS Star Party:. This was a great success, with largely clear skies on the Friday night. Well done to Roy and all the rest of the organisers, To Kevin for a superb BBQ, and to Ktec Telescopes for sponsoring the event. The talks were all excellent, and the general atmosphere and craic was great. Well worth going to, even if it is a long way: why not make it part of a longer holiday in the SW to make the journey more worthwhile?
12. Armagh Planetarium: News shows, and Train like a Jedi: These popular events with the Emerald Garrison will be available again at the end of August). For more details, and to book, see
13. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea

14. Interesting Weblinks
(now arranged by subject matter):
Nearest galaxy collision marked by fireworks
Dark energy survey reveals more neighbours
Solar System
The start of the Thai Space Programme? (OK, just good fun - and spectacular!)
UFOs, Aliens, etc:
15.TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
16. 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