Friday, 8 April 2016

Benburb event, ISS, Films, Lectures, AGM, COSMOS, Mercury Transit, Solarfest

Hi all,
1. IAA at Benburb Castle, Sat 9 April, 7.00 p.m. The IAA has been invited to hold another one of our ever-popular public astronomy events at a new venue, Benburb Castle, Co Tyrone. We will have observing (if clear) of a lovely young crescent Moon, magnificent Jupiter, and maybe even glimpse the innermost planet, elusive little Mercury. Plus of course all the usual Deep Sky Objects visible in this darks-sky location. There will also be a very good pass over by the brilliant ISS.
There will also be the Starshows in the Stardome mobile planetarium, courtesy of Armagh Planetarium, a display of meteorites by local expert Dr Mike Simms, and our own 'Ulsternaut', Derek Heatly, waiting impatiently for Richard Branson to launch him into space via Virgin Galactic!
Benburb Castle is just S of the main street, the B128, in the village of Benburb. The B128 runs from Blackwatertown to Aughnacloy, and Benburb is just a few miles west of Blackwatertown, NW of Armagh City.
The entrance to the Castle from the B128 was misleading the last time I was there- it took you into the Priory instead! So to be sure, note this: the entrance drive is just West of the junction between the B128 and the B130 from Benburb to Dungannon. Thus, if coming from Blackwatertown, enter Benburb village along the B128 and look out for the junction with the B130 to the right. The entrance to the castle is the next entrance on your left.
GPS: The entrance to the Castle off the B128 is at N 54d 24' 43"; W: 6d 44' 46".
The 'Castle' itself (more of a collection of fortified houses, really) is at N 54d 24' 36"; W: 6d 44' 45".
Tea and coffee etc will be provided.
2. ISS: The International Space Station is doing evening passes over Ireland from now until April 15: see the excellent free site for details. also see under 'space' at No 13, Weblinks, below.
3. Film: The Last Man on the Moon, Mon 11 April:
This film will be showing, for one night only, at the Movie House, Dublin Road, Belfast. Paul says it comes highly recommended. We have both booked tickets already. see

4. SciFi film series in Dublin.
Sorry for the short notice - I've only just learned of this:
A dedicated classic science fiction season will run at the IFI in Temple Bar. "FUTURES PAST", will run from April 6th-27th and looks at how cinema of the past has imagined our future.
In collaboration with Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, this season of classic sci-fi films will be paired with guest speakers and scientific experts in their field. We hope these screenings, framed within a scientific context, will open up a dialogue about representations of science in film and ask pertinent questions about where the human race may be heading. This great selection of titles ranges from Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey presented on 70mm. Full event info can be found here:
5. IAA AGM, 13 April, 7.30 p.m.: The AGM will be held in the usual venue, the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB. As well as the usual business of officers' reports and elections, we will have reports on the great success of members' viewing and photos of the Total Solar Eclipse in Indonesia on 9 March, by Andy McCrea, Kate Russo, and myself, plus a look ahead to the next one in the USA in August next year.
VENUE: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, QUB. Free parking on Campus after 5.30 p.m. ALL WELCOME (but only paid-up IAA members may vote on any matters of business): Admission free, including light refreshments.
6. COSMOS 2016: April 15 - 17, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone.
Speakers so far: Prof Mark Bailey, Director Armagh Observatory; Damien Peach (astrophotographer extraordinaire); Dr Linda Spilker (Programme Manager, Cassini Mission, JPL / NASA); Dr Tom Spilker (Rosetta Science Team Co-Investigator, JPL / NASA), and others to be confirmed.
7. Transit of Mercury, 9 May: The IAA will be holding a public observing session for this rare event, in front of Queen's University, Belfast. The transit will be visible from 12h 12m to 19h 40m, BST. Bring your telescope if you have one - but see below.
The viewing session will finish with a special free lecture in QUB as part of the Michael West series. More details when available.
NB! You must NOT attempt to view this event without proper safe equipment. As a general guide, the rule is to treat it as if it was a partial solar eclipse.
(1) You can not observe the event with the unaided eye, even with 'eclipse glasses' or 'eclipse viewers', as Mercury is too small to be seen without optical aid.
(2) It will be visible through a telescope AS LONG AS IT IS FITTED WITH A PROPER SOLAR FILTER. If you are not sure if the filter is suitable for viewing the Sun DO NOT USE IT.
(3) You can view it by projecting the Sun THROUGH an ordinary telescope (without a filter) so that the image falls on a piece of white paper or card. Do NOT attempt to view the Sun, even through the finder, while trying to do this.
(4) If you have good quality high-power binoculars, say 12x (mag12) or higher, you can view as in (2) or (3) above.
More observing and safety details will be given next time.
8. Yuri's Night at BCO, Cork, April 12:

April 12; 18:00 - 23:00 EXRA SCREENING ADDED AT 18:00

Join us for Yuri's Night 2016 to celebrate Cork's Lifelong Learning Festival.

18:00 This Changes Everything: Filmed over 211 days in nine countries and five continents over four years. An epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. Pre-registration required.

20:30: Courtyard StarGazing: Jupiter Watch. Please note that night sky observing is weather permitting i.e. rain or cloud cover means it cannot take place. Drop-in; no booking.


The Royal Irish Academy presents a public lecture "Gravitational Lensing: Einstein's unfinished symphony" by Professor Richard Ellis from University College London on April 13 at 6pm in Dublin. Details and tickets:

10. Solarfest, Dunsink Observatory, Dublin: Sat 11 June. More details next time.
11. IAA Midsummer BBQ: 18 June. Venue and details TBA.
12. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea

13. Interesting Weblinks
Search turns to Red Dwarfs: But if they are, on average, billions of years older than Sunlike stars, then that means that most of them will be First Generation stars. They formed so long ago that the gas & dust clouds from which they and their planets formed had very little enrichment with the heavier elements formed from supernova explosions; those heavier elements being essential to life, especially advanced civilisations. It's hard to see how you could build radio telescopes etc without what the public call metals, i.e. iron, copper, aluminium, zinc, etc. So their great age is actually a disadvantage.
UFOs, ALIENS, NIBIRU etc This is about the 20th prediction of Nibiru that I've come across in the last decade or so. I wish the ruddy thing would make its mind up if it's coming or not!
14. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
15. 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