Friday, 30 October 2015

Asteroid near miss, Lots of Lectures, fireballs, ISS, Re-entry, space namings...

Hi all,
1. Asteroid to have close miss with Earth on 31 October;

Ignore the usual media hype - this passage will not be "Spooktacular" whatever that means. It won't even be 'spectacular', as it will never get brighter than 10th magnitude! Details as follows.

A just-discovered asteroid about 300 meters across (H=19.8), named 2015 TB145, will come 'very' close to the Earth this W/E. Only one object of that size is known to have ever come closer to the Earth. Although 300 near-Earth asteroids have passed closer to the Earth than this one, but of these 'TB145' is the SECOND largest to do so after 2004 XP14 which came by in 2006 at 1.16 LD. And it will be 2027 August 7 until the next known object (1999 AN10) that is larger than this one to come closer to the Earth.

The closest approach will be 1.26 lunar distances (485,000 km). To put that in perspective, that's 38 Earth-diameters away. So it's not really even a 'close shave', but on the other hand if one that size did hit us, the effects would be catastrophic!

It will likely brighten to about magnitude 10 or brighter on afternoon of October 31, then at declination +45. Magnitudes in the hours before closest approach:
29/10/2015 18 UT: 14.3
30/10/2015 00 UT: 14.0
30/10/2015 06 UT: 13.6
30/10/2015 12 UT: 13.2
30/10/2015 18 UT: 12.7
31/10/2015 00 UT: 12.0
31/10/2015 06 UT: 11.2
31/10/2015 12 UT: 10.2
31/10/2015 18 UT: 12.2


Get an ephemeris for your own location from Or go direct to If you enter either of the following observatory codes, that should give you a location close enough to locate the object: Armagh 981, Dunsink 982

See and See

This could have been a Halloween Rocky Horror Show - but it won't be!
2. Public Lecture, Ulster Museum, Tues 3 Nov, 7.30 p.m. Dr Mike Simms: "Elements in Space". Free, but places must be booked in advance at the U/M website.
3. IAA Lecture Wed 4 November, 7.30 p.m. "Anazoeing Mars ", by Dr Maria Cullen. Anazoeing Mars - the revitalisation, or re-lifeing, of a planet. Ana- = re- and zoe = all life; Anazoeing - a Greek-based term to describe the act of bringing Mars back to life, based on its own biota, through tending it to ameliorate the potential for human occupation of Mars into the future. Mars today presents a very hostile suite of environments for humans. As we grow in our understanding of Earth we realise that certain forms of life can exist in challenging places and can adapt to these settings in diverse ways. As our knowledge of Mars improves, we begin to identify potential niches for life there. We are posing fresh questions about life itself and potential ecophysiological windows of opportunity.
With the initiation of human exploration of Mars, the building of biomes and the anazoeing of a "dead", or "mostly dead" planet, we will learn more about the fragility of life and the resilience of life, in a wider planetary setting. Technological developments, new insights and organizational advances will help us to address threats of our own making to life on our home planet.
This lecture will take stock of what we know so far about the Martian environment. It will review the proposals suggested to anazoe or re-initiate life on Mars so that humans can live and work there in increasing comfort and safety. There will be some discussion of the technological and ethical challenges involved when attempting to work with Mars-life if it currently exists or to kick-start life and to tend it in a direction that would suit us on another planet!

VENUE: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, QUB. Free parking on Campus after 5.30 p.m. Admission free, including light refreshments.

4. RIA Lecture, 4 Nov, QUB, Quantum Computing: Civilization's next big revolution? NB: This lecture starts at 5.30 for 6.00, so you can go to that, and then just down the road for our IAA lecture above. Both free - the best deal in the universe!
Quantum computation could revolutionise the information age and trigger as big an impact on society as the conventional computer. It promises to transform not just science and technology but our very understanding of reality. To honour the profoundly significant discovery made by Belfast scientist John S Bell, on 4 November 51 years ago - known as Bell's Theorem - The Royal Irish Academy and the Chief Executives' Club at Queen's have invited Eric Ladizinsky to give the inaugural John Bell Day lecture.
At key points in human history, civilization took a leap forward because people discovered a new way of harnessing nature. Tool making, farming, the industrial revolution, and the information age were all triggered by the discovery of new ways of manipulating nature. By harnessing the Alice in Wonderland like effects of quantum physics, Quantum computers could help realize true artificial intelligence, offer insights into nanotechnology, teleportation and time travel, change the way chemists and biologists study the molecules of life and design drugs, and break supposedly unbreakable secret codes… tasks well beyond the capabilities of any classical supercomputers.
The D-Wave Systems Inc team, based in Vancouver, has created the first, special purpose quantum processors in a scalable architecture. D-Wave's exciting, first generation quantum processors, now being explored by Google and NASA, as well as Lockheed and the University of Southern California, may, in just a few short years, exceed the capabilities of existing classical computers.
In this lecture, Eric Ladizinsky, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist at D-Wave Systems Inc will outline the basic ideas behind quantum computation, summarise D- Wave's unique approach, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions about quantum mechanics, quantum computing, and D-Wave quantum computers.
Prior to his involvement with D-Wave, Eric Ladizinsky was a senior member of the technical staff at TRW Inc's Superconducting Electronics Organization, where he contributed to building the world's most advanced Superconducting Integrated Circuit capability, intended to enable superconducting supercomputers to extend Moore's Law beyond CMOS. He has a BSc degree in Physics and Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles and is an Adjunct Professor of Physics at Loyola Marymount University.
Refreshments will be available from 5.30pm, before the lecture.
Please confirm your attendance with Brenda Carabine Tel: 028 9097 1153
"Evolving Quantum Computers"
Eric Ladizinsky, Co-founder and Chief Scientist, D-Wave Systems Inc
(Vancouver, Canada)
Wednesday 4 November 2015
5.30pm Pre-lecture Reception: 6pm Lecture
Riddell Hall, 185 Stranmillis Road.
Queen's University Belfast


5. DUBLIN:This lecture will be repeated the following evening in TCD:

Thursday 5 November 19:00, Edmund Burke Theatre, Trinity College Dublin. Book tickets via the RIA at 19 Dawson Street, Dublin, D02 HH58, Ireland. Switch: +353 1 6762570 Tickets are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.
6. Halloween at Armagh Planetarium: Armagh Planetscarium is calling young ghouls, witches and ghosts to join us for a week of frightening fun. Come dressed in your Halloween costume and sink your fangs into a terrifying treasure hunt, Digital Theatre shows and revolting rocket launches. Ends Sat 31st.
Open Times: Mon - Sat 10:00am until 5:00pm
Digital Theatre Show Times:
11:00am - Little Yellow Star
12 noon - Accidental Astronauts
1:00pm - Exploding Universe
2:00pm - Astronaut
3:00pm - Sun, Moon and Stars
4:00pm - Exploding Universe
Pre-book a Digital Theatre show on 028 37 523689
7. Possible Taurid Meteor fireball stream: This weekend, Earth could run into a thicker stream of debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower. The last time this happened, ten years ago in Oct. 2005, the encounter sparked a two-week display of bright meteors called the "Halloween fireballs." Will it happen again in 2015? Visit for more information and observing tips.
Even if there's no enhanced activity, you can see up to about 10 Taurids per hour in good dark skies & favourable conditions for the first 10 days or so of November
8. ISS. Will star another series of morning passes over Ireland on 5 November. Details at
9. Science Week Ireland events at BCO, Cork.
10. Pluto and Charon latest;
See also
Given his use of human excrement to fertilise his potato crops, perhaps his comment should have been "I'm going to have to science the shit INTO this"!
12. Earth in danger!? This is not very convincing! There are 4 mass extinctions which coincide with cratering rate peaks. But there are 6 mass extinctions which do not coincide with a cratering peak. And even more importantly, there are 7 cratering peaks which do not coincide with a mass extinction! Lies, damned lies, and statistics!
WTF of course stands for 'Where To Fall?' and not what you originally thought!
14. Irish Astronomy Books Launch
From Julie Ormonde, manager of the Kerry Dark-Sky Reserve:
Just letting you know that on Friday 25th September I launched a crowd-funding KICK-STARTER campaign to get Ireland's TWO Astronomy themed books published. Research shows that these may well be the first Irish Astronomy books (or at least Irish Authored) ... so am very excited about that.
(Sorry, Julie, but they won't be the first Irish Astronomy Books, by a long way .....
* Agnes Mary Clerke from Skibbereen: See
* Mervyn Ellison (book on the sun) see
Prof Susan McKenna-Lawlor "Whatever Shines Should be Observed, 1998"
Sir Robert Ball, At least 5 books on astronomy, including The Splendour of the Heavens.
Dr Maire Bruck (nee Conway, from Meath) (From my obit note) - She has written widely, with a particular interest in British & Irish women in astronomy. One of her best known books is on the well-known astronomer from Skibbereen, Co Cork: "Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics", published by Cambridge University Press in 2002.
Kevin Nolan: "Mars: A Cosmic Stepping Stone (2008)
Terry Moseley. yes, I even have one to my own name: "Reaching for the Stars, Pergamon Press, 1975.)
Still - good luck!
The total needed to be raised is e6,700 in 40 days. NO MONEY is taken from anyone's account until ALL the money is raised, this protects the sponsorer. If the target cost isn't raised in the allotted time then these 2 books wont be published in the foreseeable future. PLEASE can you help by mentioning the campaign on all your, blog, email etc Acknowledgement of your help will be mentioned in the books.....Thank you so much. Julie 087 7845688
[I don't include images in these bulletins, as some servers block them, but I will gladly forward Julie's email with full details of the books to anyone on request. Terry M]
15. NameExoWorlds Contest - Last chance! organised by the IAU, will end on Oct 31. This public voting for the 20 planetary systems comprising 15 stars and 32 exoplanets decides the names for these selected stars and exoplanets. The clubs and/or non-profit organisations that win ExoWorlds will receive a commemorative plaque and will be eligible to propose a name for a minor planet (subject to the usual rules for minor planet naming).
Astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations from 45 countries submitted 247 proposals for the names and so far the contest received more than 300 000 votes, becoming one of the largest outreach astronomy projects in the world. We, at the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach, would like to thank everyone that supported NameExoWorlds and to all participating institutions that sent special videos stating why their name proposals should win.
If you haven't voted yet, we urge you not to miss this chance.
And if you need any support from our team just let us know via
Best regards,The IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach team
16. Comet 67P - more amazing images
17. Vote for name for 51 Pegasi b - another last chance

Celebrate 51 Pegasi b's 20th anniversary by voting for its new name

October 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of 51 Pegasi b; the first exoplanet to be discovered orbiting a Sun-like star. This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate the many discoveries that have been made since then. 51 Pegasi b is also one of the planets awaiting a new name as part of the IAU's NameExoWorlds contest. NameExoWorlds has been running since August, and the number of votes for the submitted name proposals have gathered more than 300 000 entries from all around the world. If you still haven't voted, don't miss this great opportunity, and vote before the closing date of 31 October.

You can find the details of the contest here:

18. DIAS lectures in Dublin celebrate 75th anniversary: See Highlights are: "Einstein's Universe: Relativity and the Big Bang" by Dr Cormac O'Raifeartaigh (WIT); "100 Years of Einstein's Gravity but where are the Waves?" by Prof Mike Cruise (University of Birmingham); "Celts in the Cosmos", by Prof Werner Nahm (DIAS), and "Mathematics vs astronomy in early medieval Ireland" by Dr Immo Warntjes (Queen's University Belfast). Admission free but advance booking is necessary.
19. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea

20. Interesting Weblinks
(arranged by subject matter):
Astrophysics But the star is not rotating fast enough for this to happen. I suggest that it's one of the following:
1. The light from the star is passing through irregular spaced obscuring material of varying density, between us and the star, and not necessarily close to it. Or -
2. The star is orbited by a planetary body which has recently been broken up by a collision with another body of comparable size, and the dips are caused by transits of these irregular and evolving clumps of debris.
NB, the flux does not drop 'below' the 20% level, but BY 20%, which is a major difference!
Cosmology As China is an atheist country, at least they won't be daft enough to call it the God particle. (If God exists, s/he is purely spirit, therefore does not have mass, therefore does not have any Higgs Bosons....)

Solar System
Why earth is much bigger than Mars
Interesting. But the references to 'aerodynamic drag' in pars 4 & 5 of main text are puzzling, as there's no air! I presume they refer to the protoplanetary nebula, but even that would be very rarified. Maybe the original article explains it more fully.
Russia going back to Moon; Brilliant news! But they will NOT be going to that celestial body for quite a while - that's Charon, the main moon of Pluto! Duncan should have known that his comment would be taken out of context by the conspiracy theorists!!
UFO's etc
21.TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
22. 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