Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Lecture, Galway SF, DIAS, Armagh Obs, ISS, N/E Comet, Tim Peake, Philae

Hi all,
1. IAA Lecture Wed 18 November, 7.30 p.m. "On the Shoulders of Giants; The Story of (part of) Our Quest to Understand the Cosmos", by Brian MacGabhann.
This is a superb lecture, with lots of interesting insights into the background of the development of astronomical thought: You may think you know the history of astronomy fairly well, but I'll bet you'll learn something new!
Synopsis: Barely 5,000 years ago our ancestors stared with fear and incomprehension at the bewildering display of lights that appeared nightly over their heads. Armed with nothing more than their wits our species has slowly and haltingly groped towards an understanding of the universe around us and our place in it, and it is amazing to think that by the time we finally did manage to leave this rock in 1961 we had already arrived at a broad understanding of how the universe operated.
This is the story of that quest, from the ancient Egyptians, who saw in the skies the workings of their gods, to the Greeks who sought for a naturalistic explanation of what was happening, through the middle ages when brilliant thinkers fought against the restrictions of their culture and of their own beliefs and assumptions to struggle towards and ever more accurate understanding. It is a story of heroes and cowards, humility and arrogance, imagination and tunnel vision. Along the way we will encounter a host of fascinating characters, some larger than life, some odd and reclusive, some downright potty, including such famous names as Copernicus, Newton, Galileo and Aristotle.
VENUE: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, QUB. Free parking on Campus after 5.30 p.m. Admission free, including light refreshments.
2. Galway Science Festival, 22 Nov.
The gang from Galway Astronomy Club will be manning a stand at the Galway Science Festival on Sunday the 22nd Nov. We'll have various scopes and other stuff set up, booklets and brochures to hand out, back issues of Astronomy Ireland to give out and we'll be on hand to offer advice and tips to any who want it.
This year we'll have a free raffle for a telescope, courtesy of our good friends at (Well worth checking out their website; great range of gear and fantastic prices).
The festival runs all day and takes place in the student hall in NUIG. See here for more info:…/2014-festival-exhibition-sho…/
It's a great day out for all the family. Please feel free to drop by and say hello.
If anyone has a particular question to ask and would like to bring their scope or other equipment along we'd be more than happy to help out.


3. DIAS lectures in Dublin celebrate 75th anniversary: See Highlights are: "100 Years of Einstein's Gravity but where are the Waves?" by Prof Mike Cruise (University of Birmingham), 25 November; "Celts in the Cosmos", by Prof Werner Nahm (DIAS), 3 December, and "Mathematics vs astronomy in early medieval Ireland" by Dr Immo Warntjes (Queen's University Belfast), 11 December. Admission free but advance booking is necessary.


4. Armagh Observatory Georgian Day Events: Saturday 28 November 2015

1. Free Organ Recital "Harmony of the Spheres" at 2.30 pm by astronomer and musician Dominique Proust in St. Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral Armagh

2. Free Guided Tour of Armagh Observatory and Grounds at 11.00 am.(To reserve a place contact Armagh Visitor Information Centre, Tel: 028-3752-2928).

Further information on all events can be found on the Armagh Visitor Information Centre website at:

Dominique Proust will also give a professional level seminar at the Observatory at 11:00, Friday 27 November "Clusters and Superclusters of Galaxies: What They Can Tell Us". Visitors welcome as always (though please let the Observatory know in advance).

5. ISS. Continues its series of morning passes over Ireland until 23 November. Details at
The ISS has just celebrated 15 years of continuous human presence in space See, and make sure to watch the video!
6: Comet to reach Naked-Eye Visibility? Comet Catalina has been visible in S. latitudes for some time, and is now heading North, but it won't be well visible from Ireland until the very end of November, and better in early to mid December, though it will have faded a bit by then.
Keen observers with a good E horizon could start looking about 25-26 Nov, when it will be below left of Spica, and with Venus, Mars & Jupiter above right in a nice photogenic line as compensation if you don't spot Catalina.
Note that the following S&T guide is based on USA latitudes, not those of Ireland. It will be a morning object when at its best.
7. Tim Peake to become First British Astronaut since Helen Sharman, on 15 Dec: I wonder is it coincidence that he's from Chichester, the city nearest to Patrick Moore's home in Selsey (think Bangor + Donaghadee, or Galway + Spiddal)? Chichester is also the location for the Sir Patrick Moore South Downs Planetarium, which I'm sure Tim would have visited.
8. Comet 67-P and PHILAE
9. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea
Most distant object in SS: Actually, the Oort cloud should be referred to as the Opik-Oort Cloud, as it was first predicted by Prof Ernst Opik, who worked at Armagh Observatory. The video at the end about ESA's future lunar plans is interesting. And it shows an actual starry sky as the background, which is a pleasant change. Unfortunately, it shows, for example, Delphinus and Aquila with North at the top - as seen from the Moon's South Pole!
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

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