Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Lecture, Astronauts, Exomars, Mayo Dark sky, IFAS, Astrophotos, SWI, More...

Hi all,


1. IAA Public Lecture Meeting, 19 October;   Dr Morgan Fraser, Cambridge University / UCD: "Gaia: Mapping the Milky Way and Beyond from Space": GAIA is possibly the biggest development in astrophysics since the start of this millennium! This is a ,lecture not to be missed!
Abstract: Gaia is the European Space Agency's flagship mission for this decade, and is revolutionising our understanding of the Milky Way and beyond, by allowing astronomers to measure distances to a billion stars.
I will outline the Gaia mission, and some of the technology that makes this possible. As the first public Gaia data release was made in September 2016, I will highlight some of the key science results to
date, and discuss some of the things to look forward to from Gaia in the future. Finally, I will talk about the Gaia Alerts project, which uses Gaia data to find transients, and how amateur astronomers are getting
 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB.

 Free admission, including light refreshments. Free parking on QUB campus after 5.30 p.m.


2. Astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra.  This event in the Ulster Hall was superb. Congrats to Liz Conlon and Chris McCleery and all in N. I. Science Festival for arranging it!


3. Exomars: Joint ESA-Roscosmos mission ExoMars has arrived at Mars and will deploy the Schiaparelli lander which will touch down on the surface of Mars on October 19th. See

You can watch it live online as follows:

– An ESA Social TV webcast is scheduled to run from 1100 to 1315 UTC. Add 1 hour for BST/IST 

 ESA's main ExoMars program will then follow in two parts: The first will begin at 15:44 UT and continue until about 17:00 UTC..

 The second half of that broadcast will begin at 18.25 UT and end at about 20.00 UT


– The agency will webcast a press conference to deliver a mission status update, beginning at 08.00UT. Watch at ESA's website or directly via ESA's livestream channel.

This is a very nice simulation of the descent and landing:

   With excellent timing, NASA has just released some excellent images from the MAVEN spacecraft. See


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

   Additional Item: Lorraine Hanlon of UCD Physics and Elaine O Boyle of UCD Parity Studios are planning a wonderful presentation to end the Mayo Dark Sky Festival - DON'T MISS IT (3:30pm Sunday 30 Oct in Hotel Newport)!... "Dancing with the Stars - A Voyage Through the Galaxy":
Synopsis:   Planet Earth orbits a star that is one of many stars in the Milky Way galaxy. We know from observations that the Milky Way is also home to planets around other stars, black holes (including a giant one at the centre of the galaxy) and lots of gas and dust.  But most of our galaxy's mass is in the form of 'dark matter' that is invisible to us. 
An amazing European satellite called 'Gaia' is making the best ever map of the Milky Way to help us understand how the galaxy formed and what it is made of.
In this presentation we will go on an illustrated journey through the Milky Way, exploring its shape, size and evolution and finding out why Gaia's survey of the stars is revolutionising astronomy."

   Those of you with a smartphone may wish to download our festival app to get the latest updates on events, speaker biographies etc.  This app (from will also send out alerts if there are any last minute changes to scheduled events (I'm thinking particularly of the Friday and Saturday observing sessions, which are of course weather dependent).  The link to the app is - and it's available for Android and iPhone (the app is free and has no ads, you'll be glad to hear!)

   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


5. IFAS Calendar 2017

The FREE edition of the IFAS Calendar for 2017 is now available as a 735Kb pdf for download. It does not include the photos taken by IFAS members but these will appear in a printed edition of the calendar which will be available for purchase (details to be announced during October on the IFAS site The pdf contains extra pages with various useful tables of data. Grab your copy of the 2017 calendar now at


6. AstroPhoto Exhibition. We're delighted to announce that all the local photographs in this exhibition will feature in a further series of exhibitions, at venues including Clotworthy House in Antrim, and the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn.  More details later. Free admission. A MUST SEE!




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

9: Gravitational Waves; A New Astronomy, Monday, 21 November 2016 from 18:30 to 20:00 (GMT), Theatre D (ICON Theatre), UCD Science Hub, UCD, Belfield.

10. Fly A Rocket: The European Space Agency is looking for students for its new "Fly a Rocket!" programme. ESA's Education Office is looking for twenty students to participate in an online course about rocketry. Following completion of the course, the students will have the opportunity to take part in a full launch campaign at the Andoya Space Center in Northern Norway, and to launch a rocket. The course is aimed at younger university students, and it is accepting applications from education, media, and management students, showing that careers in the space sector do not necessarily require a detailed technical or mathematical background. Learn more about the program here:!_programme

11. ESO Astronomy Camp Date: 26 December 2016 to 1 January 2017; Location: Aosta Valley, Italy. More information:

12. IAA Subscriptions now overdue: 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.

13: IAA NEW YEAR PARTY - 7 January. More details later.

14. Galway Astrofest, 28 January. Another top programme of events is already lined up. More details later, but save the date now.

15. The 2017 TSE in USA: Online course about 2017 Eclipse. On August 21, 2017, the United States of America (USA) will experience the first total eclipse of the Sun visible in the continental territory in almost 40 years. The total eclipse will only be visible within a narrow band, and everyone in North America located outside this band will see a partial solar eclipse. On 15 October 2016 the US National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is promoting the virtual conference "The Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 — Are You and Your Students Ready for the Sky Event of the Decade?". This course is open to international participants for a fee. There is a free booklet (in PDF format) about the eclipse and safe viewing, from NSTA's recently published book Solar Science, and it can be found here:  . Find out more about this online course here:

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

17: Interesting Weblinks






Ancient impact preceded global warming event 

Evolution of ancient life



Possible formation site of giant icy exoplanet  





Small impacts work lunar surface 

Modeling floods that caused canyons on Mars and Earth 

Possible origin of comet 67P Orbit of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko now, 60,000 years ago, 400,000 years ago and in the distant past. Credit: Western/Galiazzo/Wiegert.



Beating the Rayleigh optical limit 


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.
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