Friday, 27 January 2017

Astrofest, Lecture, ISS, Photo exhib, Venus, NI Science Festival, Geology ofMars

Hi all,

1. Galway Astrofest, 28 January, Westwood Hotel. Another top programme this year:

Friday evening, 27 Jan: Observing at Club's dark Sky site at Bearna, if clear.

Sat 28th Jan, Lecture Program

0900 – 1000: Registration

1000 – 1015: Opening Address and Welcome

1015 – 1115: Exploring the Cosmos – The View from Hubble and Beyond.  Dr. Deirdre Coffey, Assistant Professor, School of Physics, UCD

1115 – 1215: A Mayan Adventure in Historical Astronomy, Dr. David Asher, Armagh Observatory & Planetarium.


1230 – 1400: Lunch break and workshops

Astrofest 2017 - Workshop Update.
Setting up a new telescope for the first time.


1400 – 1500: An Introduction to Space Law and the Challenges It Faces.  Dr. Zeldine O'Brien, Barrister & Lecturer.


1500 – 1600: Robotic Exploration of the Solar System. Dr. Wesley Fraser, Queens University Belfast


1600 – 1630: Tea & Coffee


1630 - 1730:  The Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture: ET- Where are you?  Terry Moseley, Irish Astronomical Association.


1730 – 1830: Guided Tour of the NUIG Astrophysics Observatory


1830 – 2000: Astrofest Evening Meal


2000 -      Fiendishly Difficult (only kidding) Table Quiz.



Guests: €25. Club Members: €15.  Students/OAP: €15 Children (U16): Free

Evening Dinner: €30

Exhibitor Update :Big Bear Planetariums.
We're delighted to be joined by Big Bear Planetariums who will be setting up one of their mobile planetarium domes and running shows for both adults and kids throughout the day on Saturday the 27th Jan.
These shows bring the wonders of the solar system and galaxy tight into the room, and enable viewers to embark on a voyage of discovery without even leaving the dome.
Shows will run throughout the day and are completely free for festival attendees. Alternatively, people who may wish just to see a show in the planetarium and not attend the festival as a whole can purchase tickets separately. Shows will run hourly from 1100 am to 3.00 pm.



2. IAA Public Lecture Meeting, Wed 1 February:  'All Craters Great and Small' , by Dr Mike Simms, Ulster Museum 

Fewer then 200 impact craters are currently known on Earth but others must lie hidden beneath younger rocks. At Meteor Crater, in Arizona, the classic example of an impact crater, Mike will explain how careful detective work over many decades led to the realisation, firstly, that all is not what it seems, and ultimately gave rise to an understanding of some of the Meteor Crater enigmas.

Closer to home, Mike will describe how a chance discovery made on holiday led to the discovery (maybe) of the only impact crater known in the UK, represented by a gravity anomaly beneath the Scottish Highlands. However, reanalysis of the gravity data suggests that the crater was much larger than originally thought, indeed too big to fit in the space available. Can this problem be resolved? 

 Mike is an acknowledged expert on meteorites and impacts, so this promises to be a really fascinating lecture - not to be missed!

FREE REFRESHMENTS in the form of the usual biccies, tea and coffee.

 TIME: 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.


3. Heavens Above: AstroPhoto Exhibition.

The superb exhibition of locally taken astro-photographs, which had very successful runs in the Linenhall Library In Belfast, and Clotworthy Arts Centre in Antrim, has now opened in the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn on 5th January. Viewing from 9.30 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Thanks again to Bernie Brown for setting this up.


4. ISS The ISS will commence a new series of evening passes on 30 January.

5. Total Solar Eclipse, USA, 21 August: Lots of people are asking about seeing this eclipse - the most accessible one for many years to come. See If you haven't already made your arrangements, or plans, you might be interested in the following: Ulster Travel have already booked accommodation along the track, and depending on demand they will run a trip, provisionally to be led by Terence Murtagh, former Director of Armagh Planetarium. Contact 2 Church St, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, BT71 6AB Tel: 028 87722985 (Intl +44 28 87722985), Email: Contact them ASAP if you are interested. Ulster Travel did the travel arrangements for the very successful IAA eclipse trip to Bulgaria in 1999.

See also 365 Days Of Astronomy: It's time for Totality 2017 | 365 Days of Astronomy and 

And Fred Espenak presents a Sky & Telescope live webinar on Jan. 12 at 7:00 pm EST) titled "How to Photograph the Great American Total Eclipse of 2017." If you can't attend the live event you can also stream it later. For complete details see: and 

6. NEW SHOW AT ARMAGH PLANETARIUM, commences 4 February: "Journey to a Billion Suns"

The age-old history of measuring the stars and a stunning journey through our Milky Way emerge in a modern astronomy show about stars, space science and the distances in the Universe. This brand new 4K show has been produced with ESA and 30 planetariums. It will commence at Armagh Planetarium on Saturday 4th February 2017 at 4pm. Tickets can be pre-booked on 028 37523689.


7. Venus, aka 'The Evening Star' getting higher and brighter. Venus is now very prominent in the SW in early evening twilight as it moves out from the Sun, and the angle of the ecliptic improves for us in these latitudes. It completely outshines its neighbour but one, Mars, which lies under half the length of the 'Plough', or 'Big Dipper', away to the upper left. Venus is now almost as bright as it ever gets, at magnitude -4.5, and can be seen in daylight if you know just where to look.


8. Major Lecture on the Geology of Mars, Wed 22 February, 6.30 p.m.: "EXPLORING THE RED PLANET - ADVENTURES OF THE CURIOSITY ROVER" by Professor Sanjeev Gupta, Imperial College, London. "Since the first flyby in 1965 Mars has been extensively explored by orbiters, landers and rovers and today we know a great deal about the planet's surface, atmosphere and geological history.  This lecture will focus on the results from the most recent NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission - THE 'CURIOSITY' ROVER MISSION.  It will also look forward to the upcoming European mission."    Professor Gupta is a FIELD GEOLOGIST AND expert on Mars GEOLOGY.  He is A SCIENCE TEAM MEMBER AND long term science planner on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover mission which is currently exploring Gale Crater.  He has published extensively both on Martian and terrestrial geology.

This Lecture is jointly hosted by the IAA, Belfast Geologists Society, and The Geological Society Northern Ireland Regional Group, as part of N.I. Science Festival . Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics building, QUB, 6.30 p.m. More details on booking TBA, but keep the date free.


9. Life as an astronaut, for schools: Mon 20 - Fri 24 February

10:00am - 12:00pm:Suitability: Key Stages 1, 2 & 3. For bookings contact 02837 523689

Armagh Planetarium will be running very special 2-hour sessions for students which focus on the everyday life of an Astronaut! During these sessions, students will be treated to a special theatre show about what it takes to be an astronaut. After the show, the students will experience two workshops. One workshop will be building our famous water rockets to inspire budding rocket engineers, the other will focus on the details of an astronauts life today and in the future and will include experiments which will test the students to see if they have what it takes to become an astronaut!


10. Niamh Shaw at Armagh Planetarium Saturday 25th February 2017

We are very excited to have the amazing and funny Dr Niamh Shaw at the planetarium during the NI Science festival! Dr Niamh Shaw, an Irish performer, scientist and engineer, is passionate about awakening people's curiosity and she is coming to Armagh Planetarium. Niamh is passionate about all things Space and plans to get to Space within the next 8 years. Attending the International Space University's annual Space Studies Programme in 2015 in association with NASA, she was selected as a crew member on Crew 173 Mars analog mission, in January 2017 in the Utah desert in partnership with The Mars Society. Come meet Niamh here at Armagh Planetarium and hear her thoughts on her trip to Utah and what it will take to become the first Irish Astronaut!
   Niamh will be doing 2 presentations during the day, at 1pm and at 3pm. Tickets cost £2 each. Pre-booking is essential. To book call 02837523689 or via private message on Facebook. There is limited availability.


11. Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has announced the 2016–17 staging of its Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest. Since the Cassini mission to Saturn will be ending on 15 September 2017, this will most likely be the last essay contest for the Cassini mission, for which students are asked to write an essay of up to 500 words about one of three possible imaging targets that the Cassini spacecraft has observed during the past few years. Winners and their classes are invited to participate in a teleconference with Cassini scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The deadline for entries is 24 February 2017.
For contest rules, a flyer, frequently asked questions, and more information, please visit:

12. 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  And also see the UK Youth Build a Rocket Challenge

13. Odysseus Space Science Challenge
Odysseus is a European space science contest for young people, where three age groups are eligible to participate: Skywalkers (primary school pupils), Pioneers (secondary school pupils) and Explorers (university students). The contest is organised in three rounds — National, Regional and pan-European — that will be held in Toulouse, France in July 2017.  The competition offers a unique learning experience for everyone involved, allowing students to push the boundaries of their knowledge by answering fundamental scientific questions.
   Learn more about it
here and explore the official website:  

14. FUTURE EVENTS ALERT: Note the dates:

* N.I. Science Festival: 16 - 26 February. The NISF is back for a third year! And it's the biggest one yet. . Programme update now at You can now book for some of these events.

* Messier Marathon Fri Mar 24, 2017 at 2 PM to Sat Mar 25, 2017 at 11 PM, at Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry. See 

* COSMOS 2017: 31 March to 02 April. Athlone.

* Global Astronomy Month:  April 2017. More information: 

* ISSP: Major Event: The International Space Studies Programme (SSP) will be coming to Ireland next year. It will be based at Cork Institute of Technology, running from 26 June to 25 August.

* International Symposium on Astronomy and Astrobiology Education: 3–8 July 2017; Utrecht, Netherlands. More Information: 

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

16: Interesting Weblinks: (Disclaimer - Use of material herein from various sources does not imply approval or otherwise of the opinions, political or otherwise, of those sources)

ASTROPHYSICS: Seven dwarf galaxy groups point to building of massive galaxies Ignore the dramatic 'murder' storyline and absorb the science.
EARTH & MOON: If it got started on Mars, it could have started on Earth
Solar effects on Earth could be very costly! 
Misleading story. It was always assumed that the explosion was an airburst, so it would not cause a crater on the ground. So the evidence that this lake is not the crater proves nothing new. However, it is still a major puzzle that no fragments have been found, hence the suggestion that the body was made up mainly of water-ice.
Searching for life on Wolf 1061 and Well, that first planet illustrated doesn't have an atmosphere, so not much chance there. However, it must have a large fairly large close moon, whose moonlight is illuminating the night side of the planet.
It's Ganymede, not Ganymeme, and it's a moon of Jupiter, not Saturn. As for the hydrothermal vents, they will only remain open and unfrozen if there's a rapid upflow of hot water, so the drone will have to be able to fight its way in against that current. 

Comet water mystery solved

Bursts of methane may have warmed early Mars

Today's rare meteorites were once common 

Your own micrometeorites 

Solving mystery of wind flow on Jupiter 



Boeing's new spacesuit and 

Tim Peake It won't be a 'constant orbital speed' as it coasts towards the Moon - that's a transfer trajectory rather than an orbit, and it will gradually slow down due to Earth's gravity before it accelerates once the Moon's gravity becomes stronger than that of the Earth. I suppose I could just about put up with it if the other 5 were Nicole Kidman, Myleene Klass, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence and Megan Fox. Good luck to all of them note the local connection - the Thales plant in Castlereagh is now active in  Thales Alenia Space 


SUN That looks like Donatello to me! (younger readers may not get the reference....)

Looking into the centre of a sunspot


Another Nibiridiot 
Yes, obviously a UFO - with wings, a beak, and a tail. You just have to look carefully, and you can see the wing-flapping motion.  The poor alien - imagine coming  all the way to Earth & all he could get was this numbskull. No wonder they left him back! A wasted journey of many light years. BTW, the bright light is the Sun reflecting off glass roofs such as conservatories and glasshouses - you can see several other examples of varying brightness depending on the exact reflection angle to the Sun. Oh, not Venus again! Bright Venus, the evening star. Out of focus when zoomed in. And the movement is caused by the camera moving around, not by Venus moving. I've seen so many films and videos like that I've lost count.
17. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.


18. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION: 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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