Sunday, 18 September 2016

Penumbral eclipse, First meeting, Major meteorite impact site found, Mercury etc

Hi all,


1. A Partial Penumbral Lunar Eclipse tonight. The Full Moon tonight will look just a little bit dimmer than usual as it rises: it will be mostly in the penumbra, the faint outer part of the Earth's shadow. this will cause a faint dimming of the N part of the Moon's disc, but it will be barely noticeable unless you look carefully.

   The magnitude of the eclipse is 0.93, i.e. that's the amount of the moon's diameter which will pass inside the penumbra.

   The eclipse starts with the Moon still below the horizon from here: at the time of maximum eclipse at 19.54 BST the Moon will only be 1.6 degrees above the horizon from Belfast, and lower the further West you are. The eclipse ends at 21.56, when the Moon's altitude from Belfast will be 17 degrees.


2.  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.


3. IAA Member Dr Mike Simms' major asteroid impact paper and V documentary:

Documentary about the Scottish impact deposit will be aired on Channel 4 on 24th September. See also
From Mike: Also coverage in the Times, various Scottish papers, and the Daily Mail Online (how could they get it so wrong?!):


4. 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!


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


7. The Annual Institute of Physics Teachers Conference

 " Frontiers of Physics 2016", Sat Sept 24th DIT Grangegorman Campus, Dublin 7
Although primarily 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


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


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


10. 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



11. 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: 


12: World Space Week, 4 - 10 October.

Space Week at BCO, Cork; "Our Planet  - Our Space - Our Time". Space Week is Ireland's newest national STEM week in parallel with World Space Week. It is YOUR week to focus on the wonders and realities of the Universe around us. Taking place from October 3 – 8, Space Week will enable all people to explore how, as 21st century citizens under one sky, we can use the power of critical thinking, science, technology, engineering and maths to shape our understanding of life on Earth and our place in Space. 

Plan an event: Organise an event in your school or community and register your details on All registered events will receive Space Week merchandise and promotional materials.  

Attend an event: Family-friendly events, stargazing, workshops and more will take place nationwide.  Or discover the Universe in your own home using the fun space activities on

Discover Your Universe! Find or register events on, #SpaceWeek16

CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork. Tel 021 4326120

PLUS: Various other activities throughout Ireland


13. Blue Shift, Dublin, 7-8 October; this has now been canceled due to a low response


14. 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.


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


16. Mayo Dark Sky Festival, 27-30 October, Update Mayo Dark Sky Festival website They now have an official IDA Gold Tier Dark Sky Park award for this site in Mayo see

TIME TO REGISTER NOW: Time to pre-register for the upcoming Mayo Dark Sky Festival in Newport County Mayo 28-30 October! By pre-registering (no payment necessary) your itinerary, programme and tickets will all be ready for you at the Fast Track Desk in Hotel Newport before the start of the festival and can be done at…/1FAIpQLSdi0O5j3U8VgQ7hDp…/viewform   

17. Science Week Ireland 13 - 20 November; see for more details.

18. IAA Subscriptions due: You can pay by Paypal via the IAA website 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.

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

20. 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.

ASTROPHYSICS. Echoes of Black Holes eating stars

Starving black hole dims galaxy: 

Black Hole hidden in its own exhaust

Gaia's first billion stars:, and and and 

New Light on galaxy types, and Hmmm. A lot of conjecture there, methinks. And the MW is a barred spiral, but it doesn't show any bar. 

COSMOLOGY, Dark Matter, Dark Energy:  The nature of time: 


EARTH: World's second-heaviest ever meteorite found! How do these illustrators get it so wrong? The supposed '10 km diameter asteroid' illustrated is actually more than 1,000 km in diameter. And look at the perspective, and scale, and lighting, in the one showing dinosaurs running from the impact.  Pathetic.

New theory on Earth's origin:  And why were you late for work today? - I was run over by the Moon..... 



Icy Giant Planet growing round nearby star 





Some Martian lakes more recent than others 

Pluto paints Charon red 

X-rays from Pluto 

Superb images from Mars I'd love to meet the photographer who took that last photo...... 



Going to the Moon in a water-powered rocket

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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