Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Lecture, INAM, Exhibition, ASE, PLE, Podcasts, Conference, Mercury, NISF, Rosett

Hi all,


1. IAA Opening Public Lecture Meeting, 21 Sep; Prof Alan Fitzsimmons of QUB, will be the star opening speaker, on the Topic "Sungrazing Comets - Falling Into Hell". Alan is one of our greatest supporters and most popular speakers, and has given us more superb lectures than I can count! This once again promises to be an excellent start to our new lecture season. 

For an example, see 

7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB. Free admission, including light refreshments.


2. AstroPhoto Exhibition, Linenhall Library, Belfast, until 30 Sep. We're delighted to have in Belfast the amazingly popular and successful astrophoto exhibition that featured recently in Dublin. This runs until 30 September. Free admission. A MUST SEE!


3. 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 on the evening of 7th.

   There will be a free public lecture on Thursday at 8.00, see

NB, the main meeting is a professional level event, but members of societies affiliated to the ASGI, such as the IAA, are welcome to attend, at a reduced fee of €15.


4. 50th anniversary of Star Trek, 8 Sep: the first broadcast of the first episode of the classic "Star Trek" TV series was on the 8th of September 1966. (Thanks to Brian Beesley for this - I remember it well, in B&W!)


5. Annular solar eclipse, Africa, 1 Sep. This was only visible in Africa, Madagascar, S. Arabia, and parts of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. I was invited to lead the Independent Traveler group to Katavi National Park in Tanzania to see it. We got a superb view in totally clear skies - I'll try to show a few photos at the start of our meeting on Wed 21, if there's time. And the safari drives were amazing too.

For another story, see (Good old DM - doesn't know East from West. La Reunion is EAST of Madagascar.)

6. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, 16 Sep. Visible when underway at Moonrise. A very slight darkening of the N limb of the Moon may just be visible


7. Recent Podcasts by Kevin Nolan of the Planetary Society: From Kevin -

Two 'online outputs' I've been involved with recently as Coordinator to Ireland for The Planetary Society, are a Podcast about Mars Exploration run by the Irish Times, and a blog I've just written targeted at the non-expert (and expert alike) about the Proxima Centauri planet discovery.

Irish Times Podcast with Kevin Nolan of The Planetary Society about Mars Exploration:

Blog about the Proxima Centauri Planet discovery offering background details, and thoughts on the science, sociological and future impact of the discovery. the blog aimed at non-expert and expert alike:


8. Autumn Equinox, 22 Sep at 15.21 BST/IST. Start of Autumn in N. Hemisphere.


9. The Annual Institute of Physics Teachers Conference

 " Frontiers of Physics 2016", Sat Sept 24th DIT Grangegorman Campus, Dublin 7
Although primary for teachers of physics, many of the sessions may be of interest to those interested in physics including DIT Showcase Talks on modern research.
The keynote presentation will be delivered by the eminent physicist, Prof Mike Cruise who was part of the LIGO team who confirmed the existence of gravitational waves. There will be other guest presenters, including Prof Tom Ray DIAS speaking on Einstein's relativity and Eddington's Coelostat . Note DIT Grangegorman is a green no cars campus. Free onstreet parking is available and paid local parking. Booking is available on and


10. Mercury visible in morning sky from late Sep to Mid Oct - See Stardust for details


11. Mercury just above thin crescent Moon before sunrise, 29 Sep. Look from about 30 to 45 mts before local sunrise.


12. N.I. Science Festival at Ulster Museum, 30 Sept, 19.00 - 22.00. Free, but places must be booked, via Ulster Museum Reception on 028 9044 0000 or email

 See @UlsterMuseum



13. Rosetta Impacts Comet 67P, 30 Sep. This amazing spacecraft will make a very gentle touchdown, or 'controlled crash', on Comet Churyumov - Gerasimenko, sending back data as it descends. The end to a fantastically successful mission. Note that Rosetta has now found Philae: 


14: World Space Week, 4 - 10 October. Various activities.


15. Blue Shift, Dublin, 7-8 October. See


16. Stargazing at Silent Valley, Mourne Mountains, 8 October: The IAA has been invited back to this really dark sky site for another stargazing evening. More details later.


17. Armagh Observatory event at Beaghmore Stone Circles, Co Tyrone, 15 October. More details later.


18. Uranus at opposition in Pisces. See Stardust for details.


19. Mayo Dark Sky Festival, 27-30 October. Ronan Newman asked me to mention this new link to the Mayo Dark Sky Festival website They now have an official IDA Gold Tier Dark Sky Park award for this site in Mayo see

20. End of the World religious nonsense starts again:, and

IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to David Stewart or Andy McCrea

21. Interesting Weblinks.

ARCHAEOASTRONOMY: Stonehenge astronomy:


Milky Way's early blow-out:

The rise and fall of galaxy formation.

I presume that the name ZFOURGE comes from Z4, (i.e. red shift of 4) Galaxy Evolution. The "Four Star" refers to the instrument used.
First stars formed later than we thought 
Superstar Eta Carina did not go supernova: 
Second 'Dyson Sphere' dismissed (I never thought that even the first one was anything other than natural)

'Green Blob' mystery solved

A galaxy made of 99.9% Dark Matter   Could 'Madala Boson' explain Dark Matter? 


Life on Earth started really early:

Earth's carbon indicates early massive collision 

Another 'close shave' 



Could new nearest exoplanet, Proxima B, be habitable?

Determining if alien planets are habitable 

Bringing new life to exoplanets 

Twin stars host three giant exoplanets 

'Hot Jupiter' atmospheres 



No Alien signal this time



New outer solar system objects 

Ice geology on Ceres and 

Jupiter's N Pole revealed, and it's weird: 

Extraordinary compounds in Uranus and Neptune:

New most distant solar system object 

Rosetta captures comet dust 

Mystery craters on Phobos explained 



Russia tests first pulse-detonation super rocket 

US Astronaut logs record 534 days in space

Launching cubesats from high-flying jets 

China unveils its Mars Rover 

Looking for life below Martian surface 

NASA to test 'Impossible' EM Drive The one thing that's missing here is the amount of thrust this thing is supposed to produce. To get 'humans' to Mars (and stop when they get there), will take a HUGE amount of thrust. Still, they could always heat up their meals in all those microwaves!

Space launch rivalries 

Asteroid Redirect Mission: 

I'm still convinced that there's more to this than the 'stepping-stone to humans on Mars' idea.
  Quote: ARM will demonstrate advanced, high-power, high-throughput solar electric propulsion; advanced autonomous high-speed proximity operations at a low-gravity planetary body; controlled touchdown and liftoff with a multi-ton mass from a low-gravity planetary body, astronaut spacewalk activities for sample selection, extraction, containment and return; and mission operations of integrated robotic and crewed vehicle stack -- all key components of future in-space operations for human missions to Mars.
   1. "high-power, high-throughput solar electric propulsion" - there is no prospect yet of solar propulsion for a manned mission to Mars. Nor indeed for any advance supply missions to the surface: SEP is fine for getting to Mars at low cost, but how do you slow down when you get there? For a soft landing you would need a very big and complex parachute system. VERY big if it's to land a significant payload such as habitation modules.
2. "advanced autonomous high-speed proximity operations at a low-gravity planetary body". That would imply a rendezvous with Phobos or Deimos en route to the Martian surface. Why? Many additional layers of complexity and cost, and things to go wrong, for what benefit? If you are flying to San Francisco, you don't land on Alcatraz first, then take off again and land at the main SF airport! You can't even use atmospheric braking to land on them, as they are airless. To rendezvous with even Phobos in Martian orbit requires a major deceleration burn, not possible with SEP (see above)
3. "controlled touchdown and liftoff with a multi-ton mass from a low-gravity planetary body" - As for 2 above.
4. "astronaut spacewalk activities for sample selection, extraction, containment and return". Again, that would relate mainly to Phobos and Deimos, as it's not a 'spacewalk' when on Mars, but a Marswalk, which is somewhere in between a Moonwalk and an Earthwalk.
   As I've said before, I think this is more to do with asteroid mining than a stepping stone to Mars.



Origin of solar wind found.

Solar storm effects: Em, knocking out communications and electric power is not quite the same as 'destroying the planet'!

SDO views eclipse 



New ultra-wide field binoculars


22. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.


23. 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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