Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Lectures, T Peake launch, ISS, NY Party, Catalina, AstroPhoto Comp, SoB Show

Hi all,
1. IAA Lecture Wed 16 December, 7.30 p.m. "Sherlock Holmes, Pocahontas, and the Star Atlas with no stars", by Tony Drennan (IAA Past President).
We are delighted to welcome back Tony as a speaker; he has given us some fascinating lectures over the years, with intriguing titles, and this one is no exception!
No, I don't know what it's about either, but I know it will be both fascinating and entertaining!
VENUE: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, QUB. Free parking on Campus after 5.30 p.m. Admission free, including light refreshments.


2. Tim Peake to become First British Astronaut since Helen Sharman, on 15 Dec:


3. Tim Peake Launch event at Armagh Planetarium

On 15 December 2015 British European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake will be launched on his mission to the International Space Station.
To celebrate this historic event Armagh Planetarium will be hosting special events including screening the launch and docking with the ISS, presenting special showings of our Digital Theatre show Astronaut, running workshops for schools throughout the day. Workshop themes include astronaut training, astronaut nutrition and exploring the universe. In the evening there will the chance to taste astronaut ice cream, make your own clay astronaut and you even (weather permitting) see the ISS pass over Armagh. It's your chance to wave at Tim!
Our regular free open night will also be going ahead that evening offering our visitors the chance to see the stars for themselves, making this truly a day to remember.
Call in on Tuesday to join in the celebration. Armagh Planetarium will be open from 10am until 9pm. Call us on 028 37 523689 for more information on our FREE Digital Theatre shows.

NB Similar events are happening at W5 in Belfast, but only open to the public for the special event in the afternoon.


4. ISS. Started a new series of evening passes over Ireland on 6 December. Details at www.heavens-above.com

The ISS has just celebrated 15 years of continuous human presence in space See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3300453/Space-station-marks-15-years-nonstop-human-presence.html, and make sure to watch the video!
5. IAA NEW YEAR PARTY: 2 January
The usual format: A meal first in McBride's, the Square, Comber, at 5 for 5.30 p.m, followed by a private film showing at the Tudor Private Cinema, Drumhirk Road, Comber. The film will be "Star Trek Into Darkness". After that there will be a quiz, with lots of lovely prizes. A booking form is included with the latest Stardust, which IAA members will get in the next few days. Or book via the IAA website: www.irishastro.org. Guests welcome too.
More details in next bulletin.
6: Comet is almost at Naked-Eye Visibility Comet Catalina is now visible from Ireland, though better into mid December, though it is gradually fading.
Keen observers with a good E horizon should be able to spot it given clear skies, and when the Moon is out of the way.
It has amazing double tail structure, see this fabulous photo:
To find it, use any of the links below, or more simply, this morning, Jan 15 it will lie 10 deg above right of Venus;
7. Calling all Irish Astrophotographers
Calling all astrophotographers. Here is an opportunity for astronomers in Ireland to showcase their work to the public. The IAS and IFAS have organised a special exhibition to showcase the work of Irish backyard astronomers. The exhibition is taking place in the Botanic Gardens, Dublin from February 2nd - 21st.
You are invited to submit an image to go on national display at the Botanical Gardens, Dublin next February 2016!
Here is an opportunity for astrophotographers in Ireland to showcase their work, presenting the wonders of the Cosmos at the Botanical Gardens in an exclusive exhibit in a collaboration between the Irish Astronomical Society (www.irishastrosoc.org) and the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies (www.irishastronomy.org), which includes members of its member clubs.
The Details: Irish astrophotographers are invited to submit an image to be showcased to the public as part of a display highlighting the wonders of the Universe for a limited time from February 2nd to 21st 2016. The Botanical Gardens in Dublin has freely allowed the use of their lobby to display 100 images mounted for display, and incorporate additional items like (a limited number of) telescopes, large format poster displays and more.
The Criteria: Your photo can be submitted in digital or printed format. The following are guidelines:
1. Digital prints must be at 300dpi and in its largest format aspect ratio.
2. TIFF format is preferred, or high resolution (300dpi) JPEG is also allowed (RGB or CMYK is allowed).
3. Physical prints must be of a high quality (uncurled or folded) and can have a gloss or matte finish. Do not send mounted prints.
4. All photos will be fitted in an A3 mount and frame, and therefore may be subjected to cropping, if necessary.
5. All images submitted MUST have information about how the image was taken (equipment, location, software and techniques used, etc.), information about the object(s) shown, and the photographer's information.
6. Please Note - If submitting a printed photo, it cannot be returned.
Interested? Digital images can be sent via email to skyimagebotanic@gmail.com as an attachment (do not include off-site links to images), while postal images are to be sent to Botanical Exhibition ℅ Seanie Morris, Anstee, Daingean Road, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
CLOSING DATE: All considerations must be received by Friday January 8th 2016.
More details here: http://www.irishastronomy.org/index.php
You can submit your images and relevant details to
8. Star of Bethlehem Show at Armagh Planetarium: Journey back more than 2000 years to Bethlehem, and seek to discover an explanation for the star the Wise Men followed to find the baby Jesus in "Mystery of the Christmas Star".
The Star of Bethlehem is an iconic astronomical event whose true origin remains unknown even today, in spite of years of speculation and research. The show will guide the viewer through some of these investigations and the most likely causes of this interesting cosmological object which was remarkable enough to make the wise men travel across the desert from Babylon to Bethlehem to see the new born baby.
You will also explore possible dates for the birth of Christ and look at the historical records of significant astronomical events which occurred at this time.
The show opens on Tuesday 1 until Wednesday 23 December 2015.
Show Times:
Monday – Friday (1-18 Dec) at 2pm
Saturday/School Holidays at 1pm and 4pm
Evening shows every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1-17 December at 7:30pm
Tel - 028 3752 3689 to pre-book your seats
(N.B.. For the best analysis of the origin of the Star of Bethlehem story, I recommend "The Star of Bethlehem" by IAA member David Collins, pub by Amberley, 2012, ISBN: 978 1 4456 0675 0, which examines very thoroughly all the possible explanations, including planetary conjunctions; occultations; Venus; variable stars; novae and supernovae; comet Halley and others; comets in outburst like Comet Holmes in 1892, 1893 and 2007; Moon, Sun & eclipses; meteors, meteor storms, meteorites & asteroids; and other possible phenomena. Of course, he examines in considerable detail the varying Biblical narratives and their discrepancies, and various possible chronologies, as a starting point.. He also looks at prophetic, social and historical aspects in detail. I won't spoil the story by revealing his conclusion.
(I have to declare an interest, as I'm mentioned in the acknowledgements, but I would not recommend it if I didn't think it was the best and most comprehensive account yet. and I have no financial interest whatsoever.)
9. Special Christmas Lecture: Rosetta the Comet-Chaser; Up Close and Personal
Just over a year ago the whole world watched as the Rosetta Space Probe successfully landed the Philae lander onto comet 67/P Churyumov–Gerasimenko, marking the first soft-landing ever on such a body. Galway Astronomy Club are delighted to announce that the operation's engineer for that mission; Westmeath man Laurence O'Rourke, has agreed to deliver a special Christmas talk to the Club in which he will recount the story of that amazing mission; from its launch in March 2004 to its flyby of Mars and its historical encounter with the Comet.
Laurence is a native of Mullingar and graduate of NUI Maynooth and UCC. He has been working with the European Space Agency on space missions since 1996, including the first launch of the Arianne 5 system in 1997, the Herschel Space Telescope and of course the Rosetta Mission.
The talk is free and open to all, and will take place at 7.30 pm on Monday the 21st Dec at the Westwood House Hotel. See you there!
10. Comet 67-P and PHILAE
Amazing photo: https://cumbriansky.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/osiris-pano-b2.jpg Zoom in and pan around. Look for the amazing huge striated boulder below centre right.
11. New Horizons, Pluto & Charon
Which is weirder, 67P or Pluto?
12. News on Ian Griffin (former director of Armagh Planetarium):
13. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart david.stewart22@ntlworld.com or Andy McCrea s.mccrea980@btinternet.com

14. Interesting Weblinks
(arranged by subject matter):


Storm on small star; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151212075710.htm

Ancient cluster reveals infancy of MW: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151210095321.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

Explosive star scenarios computed http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151208150514.htm

Blue straggler stars explained? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151208134843.htm

Spectacular galactic collision http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151209090456.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3353627/Mysterious-star-ISN-T-surrounded-Dyson-sphere-Astronomers-rule-possibility-alien-megastructure.html (As I said)


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3352680/Vampire-blue-straggler-stars-stay-young-feeding-neighbours.html First it was 'Zombie' stars, now it's 'Vampire' stars. What next - "Werewolf stars"?

Thinnest ever cosmic gas cloud: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151207081834.htm


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3350574/New-US-space-mining-law-spark-interplanetary-gold-rush.html Well, Whaddyouknow!? Didn't I say several times that the reason NASA plans to capture an asteroid (or a very large piece off one) as 'a stepping stone to Mars' was really a stepping stone to asteroid mining!
'Evil twin' is stretching things a bit!
Firstly, it's not evil, just cold and inhospitable.
And it's not a twin of Earth either
1. Diameter: 5150 km, Earth = 12756 km
2. Mass: 1/95 that of Earth
3. Density: about 3; Earth = 5.5.
4. Temperature: -190 deg C; Earth about +16 deg C
5. Time to orbit Sun: 10,747 days, Earth = 365 days
6. Length of Day: 382 hours; Earth = 24h
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/12/11/nasa-engineer-explains-how-to-build-a-death-star-using-asteroids-_n_8784292.html And why would you want a 'Death Star'? (Unless you're head of the NRA, and you want the ultimate weapon....)
Ridiculous statement - the rocket engine would NOT be accelerating the plane "vertically" upwards!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3350574/New-US-space-mining-law-spark-interplanetary-gold-rush.html Well, Whaddyouknow!? Didn't I say several times that the reason NASA plans to capture an asteroid (or a very large piece off one) as 'a stepping stone to Mars' was really a stepping stone to asteroid mining!
UFO's etc
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/12/08/nasa-hacker-claims-secret-ufo-photos-and-space-warships-_n_8746936.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cuk%7Cdl9%7Csec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D409712 And do they also edit out the 'UFOs' from the Russian images, and those of ESA, and China, and Japan, and India? What a load of utter bilge.
15.TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
16. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is easy: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc
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 www.irishastro.org.
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

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