Saturday, 26 September 2015

SuperHarvestMoon Eclipse, Pluto, Photo winners, World Space Week, PRONI Lecture

Hi all,
1. Total SuperMoon Eclipse, 27- 28 Sep: This eclipse actually occurs totally on the 28th, but it's the night of 27-28, and we don't want you to miss it!

The first TLE visible from Ireland for several years will occur on 28 September, but in the early hours of the morning! The moon will be in Pisces, and quite high up for all the main stages of the event.

The moon enters the faint outer part of the Earth's shadow, the penumbra, at 01.12 BST, and leaves it at 06.24. This stage is barely noticeable unless you look for it. The main, or umbral, phase lasts from 02.27 to 05.27, and that's the part where the eclipse is noticeable. The total phase, when the Moon is entirely within the Earth's shadow, lasts from 03.11 to 04.23. Maximum eclipse occurs at 03h 46m.

The moon will pass south of the centre of the Earth's shadow, so the S side of the Moon will probably be a bit less dark than the N side.

The moon never disappears completely, even in the middle of a long duration total eclipse, because the Earth's atmosphere acts as a lens, and bends some sunlight onto the Moon. And because it preferentially transmits more red light than blue, the Moon turns a colour ranging from dark orange to deep red, depending on the amount of dust and aerosol particles in our upper atmosphere.

SUPERMOON: This will be a notable eclipse for another reason – it occurs just after the closest lunar perigee of the year, on Sep 28, at 02.45, distance 356,877km. That means that the Moon will be larger than usual, with an apparent diameter of 33' 44". So there will be what the media call a 'Supermoon'.

And the Full Moon nearest to the autumn equinox is also called the Harvest Moon, so it's a Triple Whammy: a SuperMoon and Harvest Moon and TLE!

See also and and

for some other angles on this.

Photography: You can image the eclipse with almost any camera, but you'll need a zoom or telephoto lens to get a good sized image. During totality you'll need to give exposures of at least a second, maybe up to 10 seconds, so you'll need a tripod.

Bill Ingalls of NASA has a good guide. See

The Danjon Scale of Lunar Eclipse darkness. L=0: Very dark eclipse. Moon almost invisible, especially at mid-totality. L=1: Dark eclipse, gray or brownish in coloration. Details distinguishable only with difficulty. L=2: Deep red or rust-colored eclipse. Very dark central shadow, while outer edge of umbra is relatively bright. L=3: Brick-red eclipse. Umbral shadow usually has a bright or yellow rim. L=4: Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse. Umbral shadow is bluish and has a very bright rim.

Good luck - and send your photos in to the IAA website
2. PLUTO - LATEST IMAGES ARE MIND-BLOWING It's NOT weird. They ARE stars, as explained by NASA when it first released the images. Doh!
3. Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Congrats to IAA member Martin Campbell, and Tom O'Donohue, both of whom have given talks to the IAA, and both are winners in this world-wide competition!
4. The End of the World is Nigh! Again..... and I must be dreaming. I thought we had already been wiped out by something similar..... About a dozen times, in fact! How many more times will we hear this sort of rubbish? Will they never learn? - Probably not, given the basis for their belief systems.
5. "The Martian" opens on Sep 30 in Ireland. See Early reports are quite favourable - in particular Leo Enright says he enjoyed it.
But I'll bet the Conspiracy Theorists will say that this is actually real, preparing us for the news that they (i.e. NASA) have had astronauts on Mars for years! Unlike the Apollo Missions, which were faked......
6. World Space Week event: Ulster Museum, Sat 3 October
NASA Astronaut Greg 'Box' Johnson will launch World Space week in N. Ireland at this event. He will be speaking at 12.30 and 2.30 p.m. Greg was the pilot on Shuttle flights STS-123 and STS-134 - see and
The IAA will be participating in this event; we will be in the Welcome Zone from about 11 a.m. We will have all the usual attractions - solar observing if clear, telescope display, meteorites to handle, exhibition of space & astronomy items. 'Telescope fixit service'. And of course our ever popular starshows in the Stardome portable planetarium, courtesy of Armagh Planetarium.
The talks will last approximately 45 minutes. It is a free event but booking is essential as places are limited. To book please visit the UM website. Early booking is recommended.
Suitable for age 8 upwards.
For further information please contact the Welcome Desk on 028 9044 0000 or email
If you have not registered your event, or you wish to edit your details, please go to:
WSWUK has a limited number of WSW2015 posters (FREE to registered event organisers) and other merchandise available to buy.
Registered events are entitled to a FREE WSW2015 poster, which can be:
Collected from The British Interplanetary Society HQ in Vauxhall, London.
or Delivered to your address (please advise by replying to this email).
Everyone is able to purchase:
Please register ALL space-related events that fall during the first half of October, on the Global calendar:
Contact: Victoria Southgate, UK National Coordination Manager, The British Interplanetary Society.,

8. "Earth's Place in Space: Discovering Our Celestial Heritage" Intergenerational Talk at PRONI, Thursday October 22 2015, 7.00 p.m., by Prof Mark E. Bailey, Director, Armagh Observatory. FREE ADMISSION.
Summary: Astronomy is the oldest science, with links stretching back more than 5,000 years to the construction of monuments such as Stonehenge and Newgrange, many of which contain remarkably precise astronomical orientations and alignments. This illustrated talk, which is linked to the Armagh Observatory's set of "From Earth To The Universe" (FETTU) posters, will take you on a journey in space and time from our Earth, through the Solar System, past nearby stars and our own Milky Way Galaxy, to the most distant parts of the known Universe until we reach the "Big Bang", the start of our known Universe some 14 billion years ago. The talk will also cover the work and recent discoveries of the Armagh Observatory; the principal components of our Solar System; and the sizes and relative distances of the planets and nearby stars.
PRONI is the Public Records office of N. Ireland, situated in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. For directions see For location see As there is no free parking in the area, it would be a good idea to car-share where possible, or use public transport.
9. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea

10. Interesting Weblinks
(now arranged by subject matter):
Citizen science discovers gravitational lensing galaxies
Pairs of supermassive Black Holes may be rare
Solar System
UFOs, Aliens, Apocalypse, Conspiracy Theories etc:
11.TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
12. 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