Saturday, 14 November 2015

Lectures, Workshop, SS record, Taurids, ISS, Comet, Tim Peake, more

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!
VENUE: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, QUB. Free parking on Campus after 5.30 p.m. Admission free, including light refreshments.
2. Free telescope collimation workshop, Monday Nov 16, Galway:


3. 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).

4. New most distant object in Solar System: See
(So maybe we should campaign for credit for Opik, who was Deputy Director at Armagh Observatory, and call it the 'Opik-Oort Cloud'?)
5. New Tool for Solar Imagers: This should be very useful for anyone who images the Sun:
6. 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!
7. Taurid Meteors: The Earth is still passing through the edge of a stream of debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower. The shower is noted for a higher than usual proportion of fireballs, and there have been some real beauties this year! and Twice they call it a comet instead of a meteor.....
8: 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. 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.
9. Major award to Ian Griffin, former Director of Armagh Planetarium:
10. Amazing HD video of the Sun in action! - a must watch!
Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, the NASA Geeks have varied the orientations of different segments. Usually N is at the top, as you would expect, but sometimes it is at the left, so the Sun appears to be rotating from the bottom of the screen to the top.
Even worse, they sometimes have it rotating around the centre of the screen, as if you were looking down on one of the poles. But that's impossible, as the SDO spacecraft can't fly over the poles! Also, you don't get sunspots etc at the poles. Weird, and very misleading.
11: Rosetta's Year at Comet 67P - A light hearted video of Rosetta & Philae's holiday at the comet!
12. Space object crashed back to Earth on 13 Nov: see
If the bit of space junk was originally bound for the Moon, it would be in an approximately equatorial orbit. But the illustration shows it in a roughly N-S orbit, off the S tip of Sri Lanka. Still, it's a minor point.
13. 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); "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.
14. Tim Peake to become First British Astronaut since Helen Sharman: 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.
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
(arranged by subject matter):

Astrophysics; and

First Extragalactic GammaRay Pulsar and

Star formation mystery

Asteroid being ripped apart to form star's ring

Rare, dying giant radio galaxy

Clusters of protostars

Formation of magnetic fields


Extreme quantum weirdness:

Finding water in the early universe

Dark matter and particle acceleration

Antimatter not so different

Earth. Almost certainly a fireball; possible meteorite dropper?
Atmospheric dust & iron prepped Earth for life
Astronomers hope to measure atmosphere of new 'Venus-twin'
No 'Alien megastructure'? I've said all along that there's an astrophysical explanation, possibly a broken-up planet in orbit around the star.
Solar System
Excellent video on the New Horizons mission to Pluto:
Main belt asteroid hit by something It will be interesting to see if the orbit has changed measurably, which would give some idea of the relative masses and the impact energy.
A long and sometimes wordy article, but worth reading.
However, in spite of mentioning the S-L9 impacts on Jupiter, it totally ignores the threat from comets, which generally have much higher impact speeds, and in most cases we would have very much less warning, as they come in from the outer SS, on highly elliptical and often inclined orbits, and usually we don't see them until they are within a few years of perihelion.
While there may be more asteroid potential impactors, almost all of the really dangerous ones have already been found, and a good percentage of the moderately dangerous ones too, and none of those are going to hit us before the end of the century.
There is certainly some risk from the ones we have yet to find, but probably not a civilisation-altering risk.
But to deal with the comet impact risk, we need a preventative measure 'on the shelf' ready to launch within a few months at most. That's the real challenge.
Martian Dust Devils could guide mission
Telescopes & Instruments;
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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