Monday, 21 September 2015

Lecture, Congrats, Events, SupermoonEclipse, ISS, Astrofest, The End again, WSW

Hi all,
1. IAA OPENING LECTURE: Leo Enright (Space commentator, writer and broadcaster) "New Horizons at Pluto and the Edgeworth - Kuiper Belt". Wed 23 September, 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, QUB. We are delighted to welcome back Leo, who needs no introduction to IAA members, having given us several unforgettable lectures over the last few years. As enthusiastic as he is knowledgeable, he is always bang-up to date with the very latest information, sometimes updating his talk with the very latest data and pics while the introductory announcements are being made!
We have all been astounded at the new picture of Pluto and Charon being revealed as data continues to come back from the New Horizons mission, and Leo will give us the current details known about this mysterious and fascinating planet (which, IMHO, it still is!).
The spacecraft is now on its way to another rendezvous in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt - the Edgeworth being of particular significance as he was an Irish astronomer who predicted the existence of this zone of bodies well before the better-known Kuiper. Leo is determined to put the record straight, with a telling anecdote.
Not to be missed - come early for a good seat.
2. Congrats to IAA Astrophotographer Martin Campbell
Martin's image "River Of Light" received a highly commended award at the Astronomy Photographer Of The Year 2015 awards in London yesterday evening. Martin has won awards at this competition before, but the standards continue to get higher each year, so very well done Martin!
3. Autumn Equinox: The Sun will cross the Celestial Equator going southwards on 23 Sep at 08.21, marking the start of autumn.
4. ISS. Continues its series of morning passes over Ireland in the pre-dawn and morning twilight skies, until 26 Sep. Check www.heavens-above for details of this, and Iridium Flares etc, for your own location.
5. 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'.

I'll give more details on how to observe it and photograph it in an email bulletin closer to the event.

6. 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)
7. 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.
8. "The Martian" opens on Sep 30 in Ireland. See 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......
9. 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.,

11. "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
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.
12. Sad death of long-standing IAA Member: It is with great regret that we announce the death in early September of Mr Hamish Rattray of Charlemont Gardens, Armagh. Hamish was a member of the former Armagh Centre, and then of the IAA itself, for almost 50 years. I remember many interesting observing experiences with him when I lived in Armagh. He often attended events at the Planetarium. With sincere condolences to his family and friends.
13. Telescope Donation;
Thanks to Neil Samuel who has passed on to the IAA two telescopes donated by two of his friends (Alan Kingham and Jim). We'll restore these and make them available to members on loan.

14. Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure launches new era of planetary collaboration in Europe. A €9.95 million project to integrate and support planetary science activities across Europe has been launched. The Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) will run for four years until August 2019. The project is led by the Open University, UK, and has 34 beneficiary institutions from 19 European countries. Europlanet 2020 RI will address key scientific and technological challenges facing modern planetary science by providing open access to state-of-the-art research data, models and facilities across the European Research Area. Prof Nigel Mason is the Project Coordinator.

15. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea

16. Interesting Weblinks
(now arranged by subject matter):
Massive binary, each with magnetic fields
Globally unique double crater identified in Sweden -- ScienceDaily Interesting, but 7.5km is not 'enormous' compared with some others.
Could 187.5 be more significant in another number system, such as binary, or Octal etc? They could be a lot more advanced than us, and still not give out this sort of signal! Intellectually challenged? - I think not. Anyway, why would anyone need the energy of an entire galaxy? Even using all the power output of a star would indicate a very poor level of energy efficiency!
Solar System
Manipulating asteroid spin Ignore the usual mistaken portrayal of a trail of flames behind an asteroid as it moves through space!
With all the amazing stuff coming from New Horizons and Rosetta, don't forget DAWN at Ceres! This is an "Annus Mirabilis" for Space Exploration!
What happened to Mars' atmosphere?
Space A good idea, but how to get the data back to Earth? Maybe via one or more 'Selenosynchronous' satellites orbiting the Moon in such a position that they are above the horizon for the telescope, and always visible from Earth?
Telescopes, equipment
UFOs, Aliens, Apocalypse, Conspiracy Theories etc: Another HanCock & Bull story..... How can Hancock sleep in his bed at night, peddling this sort of nonsense? Anyway, see item 7 for starters! And the BBQ, with the remains of a few burnt sausages, are over on the right. And I think I can see a bottle of Cab Sauv too! If you've got a very vivid imagination, and REALLY want to see things that aren't there, you will.
17.TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
18. 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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