Thursday, 9 June 2016

IAA BBQ, Solarfest, SAN, Comet bright, NLCs, Photo, Congrats, Space Camps, BWSO

Hi all,
1. IAA Midsummer BBQ: 18 June. We are delighted to once again return to Armagh Planetarium for our midsummer BBQ event. This will include the starshow "Edge of Darkness": See Note that there is no admission to children under 6 yo for this show. Admission per person for group rate is £5 per head (no further concessions).
The show stars at 2.00 sharp, and all who are going MUST, repeat MUST, be at the Planetarium reception NO LATER than 1.45 p.m. to get your tickets. NO EXCEPTIONS!
After the show there will be time for a tour of the Planetarium's exhibits, before we have the BBQ, in the grounds - exact location to be decided. A tour of the Astropark, Hill of Infinity, and the outside exhibits at the Observatory will also be available. There will also be Solar observing if the sky is clear.
The event should finish around 5 p.m.
NB: The BBQ itself is free to all IAA members and guests: You bring your own food, drinks, eating utensils, plates cup, etc, and we provide the cooking facilities.
Visitors are welcome. But please let me know BY RETURN if you intend to go, and how many will be in your group, so I can confirm final numbers for the Planetarium show.
2. Last reminder: Solarfest, Dunsink Observatory, Dublin: Fri-Sat 10 & 11 June.
FRIDAY 10th JUNE (EVENING EVENT) There will be a public open night at
Dunsink Observatory, with solar telescopes to enable viewing of the sun, and a talk about the new LOFAR telescope at Birr, and a tour of the Observatory.
(e-mail for further details)
All events are free to attend, but advance booking is essential, here:
Speakers for main event, on 11 June:
Kevin Stephen Smith: The Transit of Mercury
Tom O'Donohue: The Total Solar eclipse of 2017
Dr Martin Topinka: The Rise of the Robots:
Dr Robin Izzard: The Origin of the Elements
Mark Towney: Fun in the Sun and Solar Outreach
Dr Eamon Scullion: DKIST; The most powerful solar telescope in the world.
Dr Aline Vidotto: Planets Around Other Suns.
There will be a follow-up event at Rathbeggan lakes on the Sunday.
Full details of the talks and other events at Solarfest, plus booking link, are available on the Facebook page:

3. THE SKY AT NIGHT: BBC FOUR will show 'The Whirlpool Galaxy' on Sunday June 12 at 10pm. The 'Whirlpool', or M51, is of course inextricably linked with the Third Earl of Rosse and the great Leviathan telescope at Birr.
4. Comet C/2013 X1 (PanSTARRS) now visible in binocs. This comet has now slightly increased in brightness and is reported at around mag 6.8. and so is visible in binoculars and small telescopes. Further brightening above the expected light-curve is possible. It is approaching Earth and will pass by about 59 million miles (95 million km) on June 21-22. It's currently very low down from Ireland, but is moving further North, into Sagittarius. Details & charts at www.heavens, and lots of other websites
5. Noctilucent Clouds: These can be seen for a month or so on either side of the Summer Solstice. These ethereal high altitude clouds can be eerily beautiful. They are visible when the sky is nearly totally dark, as they lie well above the height of ordinary clouds. They are thought to be connected with high altitude fine debris from meteors which have burned up high in our atmosphere. Look low in the Northern sky near local midnight, allowing for Summer Time, i.e. for an hour or more on either side of about 01.20 clock time. You will often see Capella glowing in the midst of a display of NLCs. They provide lovely photos if you get a good display.
6. Nice photo from Dr Ian Griffin, 'Down Under': Ian is a former director of Armagh Planetarium:
7. Congrats to Prof Monica Grady: Monica has given several fascinating lectures to us, and this award is well deserved. She posted: "Hugely delighted to be awarded Coke Medal of @geolsoc, for my work in planetary sciences @OpenUniversity"
8. Space camps at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork.
Space Campers will take a journey into the Secrets of the Solar System and look into how our solar system was born, learning about the mysteries of space. They will build upon their space science and engineering skills as they find inventive ways of saving the lives of the daring Eggstronauts that they will launch from the Castle Tower in landing craft they have designed and built.
The budding astronauts will Have a blast! building and launching their own rockets and will learn about wearable circuit technology while designing and making their own light-up badge or bracelet to take home and wear! Using real telescopes they will explore optics and lenses while also getting to visit the Observatory's telescope.
Space Camp will take place from 9:30 – 12:30 on July 11th – 15th or 18th – 22nd for 7 – 9 year old's or July 15th – 29th for 10 – 12 year old's. Booking is essential on 021 4326120
9. Festival of Curiosity 2016 (July 21st to 24th) See
10: Big Wild Sleep Out, at Cultra, 23 July: The IAA will again be participating in this event, in conjunction with the RSPB. Sun & night sky observing as usual, plus Starshows (if stardome is available). More details later.
11. Launch of AstroPhoto Exhibition, Linenhall Library, Belfast, 2 August. We're delighted to be able to bring to Belfast the amazingly popular and successful astrophoto exhibition that featured recently in Dublin. This will run until 30 September. A MUST SEE! More details in next bulletin.
12. IAA Solar Day, Castle Espie (nr Comber), 7 August, 14.00 - 17.00: More details later.
Details of an IAA Perseids event around 11-12 August to be confirmed.
14. INAM 2016, UCD, 7-9 Sep: The 3rd Irish National Astronomy Meeting (INAM 2016) will be held between Wednesday 7th and Friday 9th September 2016 in UCD. Currently it is expected that the meeting will consist of themed science sessions over two full days, Thursday 8th and Friday 9th, with a welcome reception the evening of 7th and conference dinner on Thursday 8th.
NB, this is a professional level event, but members of societies affiliated to the ASGI, such as the IAA, are welcome to attend.
15. Mayo Dark Sky Festival, 27-30 October
16: The EU Referendum - astronomy? It's not for me to advise anyone in the UK how to vote on this important matter, but factors you might like to consider before casting your vote are the UK's involvement in European astronomy and space research through ESO and ESA respectively - Would there be consequences from a vote for 'Brexit'? I note that Stephen Hawking is in favour of remaining in the EU, but you all have to make up your own minds.
17. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea

18. Interesting Weblinks
This states that gravitational waves are not affected by outside influences as they travel through space. But surely they must lose some energy as they pass through, for example, the mass of a galaxy? If they move some of the matter in that galaxy up-down, left-right, and/or backwards-forwards, they are expending energy, and you can't get something for nothing. Even if they are not 'moving' that matter in the conventional sense of moving it THROUGH space, but instead are just warping space, even that must take some energy. Comments?
Superb photos! It's very hard to identify some of the starfields, as you don't know when & where the shot was taken, what direction the camera was pointing, or what the field of view is. Not to mention that there's no up or down in our conventional sense.
But the second one of Tim Peake's 'favourites', showing stars shining through the Earth's atmosphere has one little clue - the unmistakable M31 Andromeda Galaxy in the bottom left corner. Left & a little below of it is Nu Andromedae: that gives the orientation. That then gives us, just left of centre, from bottom towards top left, the 'Lambda' shape of Iota, Kappa, Lambda and Psi Andromedae. Just above the horizon towards the right is Eta Peg.
What's really amazing is the limiting magnitude, which seems to be around mag 10 - not bad for a shot taken when moving at 17,500 mph! OK, I know that it's shot in the direction of travel, and there are no bumpy roads, nor wind buffeting, up there, but even so!
By contrast, the one of Northern Italy and the Alps, showing Vega and Lyra above the horizon, must have been a much shorter exposure, as it only reaches to about mag 4 or 5.
The one of the aurora from the side shows Delphinus just slightly left of centre, with Altair right of centre, flanked by Gamma Aql above and Beta Aql below.
What wouldn't I give to see sights like those? Dr Elena Shateni will be nearly 70 by the time she gets to Mars, even if she's on the first crew to go! If not that one, she'll be 2 years older for every mission after the first one. Daft. Quite apart from all the other issues they haven't addressed yet.
UFOs, ALIENS, CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Paul Cox, eh? Try just a little bit lower.... (It's funny that it's poor old NASA that's always accused of the cover-ups: never ESA, nor Roscosmos, nor Jaxa, nor the Indian Space Agency, etc, all of whom would be equally aware if such a body existed. Not to mention all the professional astronomers. As the late Sir Patrick M would have said - "Nutty as a fruit cake!")
19. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.
20. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is easy: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA.
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Clear skies,
Terry Moseley