Saturday, 1 October 2016

Lecture, Stargazing, WSW events, Rosetta's last, Astronauts in Belfast, SAN,

Hi all,


1.  IAA Public Lecture Meeting, 5 October; Prof Jose Groh of TCD, will give our next public lecture, entitled "Live fast and die hard: the evolution and death of massive stars".

   This is a World Space Week Event
   Stars more massive than 8 Suns end their lives in dramatic supernova explosions. But before dying, these monster stars have tumultuous lives when they blow winds, suffer giant eruptions, and interact with companion stars. In this talk, Prof. Jose Groh (TCD) will give an overview on the fast lives of the most massive stars in the Universe and how they evolve. He will also discuss the roles of massive, monster stars as cosmic engines of the Universe.

   I had the pleasure of hearing Prof Groh give an excellent talk on this subject at the recent INAM conference in Dublin, so I know we're in for a superb lecture.

   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. Stargazing, Wicklow, Oct 1 The Dublin Stargazers Meetup Group plan to observe from the Sugar Loaf car park in Wicklow if the sky is clear Saturday evening. See for more details. 


3. The Burren Star Party, hosted by the Shannonside Astronomy Club, is an observing weekend at the Poulnabrone Dolmen Car Park. This year it is on the nights of Sept 30th and Oct 1st. More details at


4. SKY AT NIGHT on Rosetta , BBC 4, OCT. 2 & 6. the Rosetta Landing on Comet 67P  will be showing 'Goodbye Rosetta:A Sky at Night Special ' on Sunday October 2 at 10pm, repeated on BBC FOUR on October 6 at 7:30pm.


5. Astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra.  The Ulster Hall in Belfast hosts an evening on October 18th with astronauts Tim Peake and Tim Kopra. See for more details. Book now if you want to go!


6. World Space Week Events

· Oct 4-10:  World Space Week. Ireland events listed at

In Cork: 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, including

· Oct 2: "Calendars, Clocks, and the End of Irish Time", Dunsink Observatory at 7pm. Book at 

·  Oct 4: Gamma-Ray Burst Astrophysics: playing detective with the Universe, 6:30PM, Icon Theatre (H1.13 UCD Science Hub)

Abstract:UCD Physics/Scientific Society in partnership with UCD School of Physics are delighted to announce a public talk as part of Space Week 2016 titled "Gamma-Ray Bursts Astrophysics: playing detective with the Universe" by UCD astrophysicist Dr. Antonio Martin-Carrillo.
   Unlike many scientists, astrophysicist cannot interact with their laboratory environment nor set up conditions that could make an experiment repeatable under the same circumstances. Instead, they have to wait until events such as solar flares from the Sun, the passage of an extrasolar planet across its star or even the death of a star actually happen.
   Dr. Martin-Carrillo, will talk about the most energetic explosions in the Universe known as Gamma-Ray Bursts, associated with the death of massive stars. As if it was a detective's murder case, he will walk through the different clues that astrophysicists have found throughout the years from their discovery 50 years ago until today to reveal the mysteries of these short but powerful explosions.
This event is open to all. No registration needed.

· Oct 4, Rosetta: To Catch a Comet! – Prof. Mark McCaughrean
Prof. Mark McCaughrean well give a public talk on the Rosetta mission which, after 12 years and 6
billion km, crash-landed on a comet at the end of September, garnering important new results
as it does so.
Bio: Prof Mark McCaughrean is Senior Science Advisor in the Directorate of Science at the European
Space Agency. He is also responsible for communicating results from ESA's astronomy, heliophysics,
planetary, and fundamental physics missions to the scientific community and wider general public.
Following a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, he worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight
Centre, followed by astronomical institutes in Tucson, Heidelberg, Bonn, and Potsdam, and taught as
a professor of astrophysics at the University of Exeter before joining ESA in 2009. His personal
scientific research involves observational studies of the formation of stars and their planetary
systems, and he is also an Interdisciplinary Scientist for the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space
Tuesday 4th October 19:30-20:45, Schroedinger Lecture Theatre, 2nd floor, Fitzgerald Building, Trinity College Dublin, (wheelchair accessible)
Location: For location and directions click on the following link:

Free: tickets should be booked on eventbrite for the TCD Rosetta talk. There is a strict limit of 120
on the capacity of the Schroedinger lecture theatre.

· Oct 5:  "21st Century Astronomy", Dunsink Observatory at 7:30pm. Book at

· Oct 5:  "Heartbeat of Space", Fitzgerald Building, TCD at 7:30pm. See

· Oct 5-9:  Prints from the "Images of Starlight Exhibition" on display in the Fitzgerald Library, TCD. See

· Oct 6:  Miscellaneous talks for Space Week, DCU from 6:30pm. See

· Oct 7/8: Dublin Sidewalk Astronomers. See

· Oct 7:  Talk on "William Rowan Hamilton and Space Navigation", OPW Head Office (Dublin) at 4pm. See


7. 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


8. Exomars: Joint ESA-Roscosmos mission ExoMars will arrive in orbit around Mars on October 13th and deploy the Schiaparelli lander which will touch down on the surface of Mars on October 19th. See

(Thanks to John Flannery for some of the above information)


9. 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 the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn, and Clotworthy House in Antrim. More details later. Free admission. A MUST SEE!


10. Spot Chinese Space Station, Tianggong-2 It may be possible to spot China's latest space station during one of its passes over Ireland. Tiangong-2 was launched on September 15th, marking the next phase of China's project to develop a permanently manned orbiting lab. Two taikonauts are scheduled fly to the station on October 16th for what is planned to be a 30-day stay. See for more info.

   Tiangong-2 will make a series of morning passes over Ireland for a few days beginning on October 14th. It may be possible spot the manned Shenzhou 11 in orbit after launch on Oct 16th as it chases the station before docking. 


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


12. Rosetta Impacted Comet 67P, 30 Sep. This amazing spacecraft made a very gentle touchdown, or 'controlled crash', on Comet Churyumov - Gerasimenko on 1 October, sending back data as it descended. The end to a fantastically successful mission.


13. Stargazing at Silent Valley, Mourne Mountains, 8 October: This is also an event for World Space Week: The IAA has been invited back to this really dark sky site for another stargazing evening. More details later.


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


15. 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   

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

17: 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.

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

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:


Spiral arms in protoplanetary disc 

Fermi finds record breaking binary close by and

ALMA finds curious chemistry and 

X-rays that don't come from any known source

Cosmic dust demystified 

Our long arm of the Milky Way 

Colourful end to a sunlike star 

ALMA explores the Hubble UDF



How to merge two Black Holes 



The latest on the formation of the Moon Mike will be giving us a lecture on this, and other impact craters, in the New Year.


E-T Life?



Mars Crust contributes to atmosphere 

Rosetta provides first UV image of a comet 

New low-mass objects could refine planetary evolution

Area on Mars may once have been habitable

Pluto's watery 'heart' and 

Mercury is shrinking! 



SPACE: There is zero chance that it will land in the UK/Ireland, as the orbit means it never gets further North than 42 degrees latitude. So they should cut out all this diversionary asteroid retrieval plan, and concentrate on Mars. I hate to say it, but this is fantasy stuff. A huge spacecraft, carrying 100 people, arriving at Mars at 100,000 kph, and gliding onto the surface? It would need a flat, smooth, hard, high load-bearing landing strip at least 20 km long, and last time I checked, Mars does not have one! Not even one 100 metres long!

   The surface of Mars is neither flat, nor smooth, over the distances required. It is also covered with large to medium to small sized rocks, just one of which would be enough to cause the vehicle to crash catastrophically if hit at high speed.
   The fastest landing speed ever for any aircraft vehicle on Earth was the Space Shuttle which landed at about 350 km/hour, on special long runways.
   Even designing the wheels for such a high speed landing is way beyond our foreseeable technology - we can just about make solid metal wheels that cope with the much lighter weight of the land-speed record vehicles which are designed to reach a maximum speed of 1,000 mph. And they go on a surface which has been systematically scoured clean of anything larger than a small marble!
   And what happens if there's a dust storm on Mars when they arrive?
   (BTW, the video shows a vertical descent, but the text keeps referring to a glide landing.)
   And how long will it take to make enough methane fuel on Mars to power a return trip?
   And solar panels big enough to provide any significant amount of energy for such a massive ship would need to be of the order of a square kilometre in area. They would have to be jettisoned before entering Mars' atmosphere, (folding them back into the spacecraft, would add too much complexity and weight). They could therefore not be used for the return journey.
   I admire his enthusiasm and commitment, but "Ye cannae change the laws of physics, Jim."



Australian technology on world's largest radio telescope 


UFOs Aliens, etc more fun!


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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