Friday, 6 January 2017

NY Party, Photos, AP events, TSE, Venus, Major lecture on Mars, space events etc

Hi all,
Happy New Year to all!


1.  IAA NEW YEAR PARTY - 7 January.This ever-popular social event will again be based in Comber Co Down. We start off with eats and drinks at McBride's on The Square, Comber, at 5.15 for 5.30 p.m.; then make our way to the Tudor Private Cinema about a mile away - it's just about 1/3 mile along Drumhirk Road, off the A22 Comber to Killinchy Road - See below. There we'll have some seasonal hot drinks, a special showing of "The Martian" (highly recommended), and the usual quiz for all. Details and a booking form have been issued with the latest Stardust to IAA members. All are welcome, including guests and non-members.

   Details are on the IAA website - see the entry for 7th Jan labeled "New Year Party", which is clickable and downloads the PDF flyer.

  You can pay no later than noon on Friday 6th by making a PayPal 'donation' to the IAA and emailing the details to Pat O'Neill: 

GPS: McBride's, The Square: N 54.550286; -5.745704

Entrance to Drumhirk Road off A22: N 54.533206; -5.731832

Entrance to lane to cinema: N 54.530952; -5.739256. There will be a sign for the IAA party at this point. Drive to the very end of the lane, to the car park beside the cinema.


2. 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.


3. Stargazing night at Armagh Planetarium, Tuesday 10 January, 7pm - 9pm

Come to Armagh Observatory and Planetarium to experience the marvels of the Universe!
   Armagh Planetarium will be hosting a Digital Theatre show, talks by an astronomy student and a public telescope viewing session at our Late Night Opening on Tuesday 10 January 2017.
   Our spectacular Digital Theatre show at 7.40pm will showcase the winning entries of the 2016 Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest and will be presented by Michael Burton, Director of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.
   We will also be hosting a talk on the Sun and Solar Flares by Lauren Doyle, a research student at the Observatory, at 7.10pm and again at 8.20pm. Lauren's talk will be suitable for all ages.
   We hope to observe through our 12 inch telescopes from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. If you would like to join in please be aware that observing can be done only if the sky is clear, the telescope cannot see through cloud and rain! The Digital Theatre show and talks will go ahead regardless of the weather. Also dressing warmly is essential! If you already have a telescope or binoculars you are welcome to bring them with you for your own use.
   If you are interested in attending the Digital Theatre Show please phone 028 37523689 or email to book your place. We're looking forward to a wonderful night of astronomy and stargazing!
   Digital Theatre Show Costs: £3 for Adults £2.50 per Child £10 per Family (2 Adults + 3 Children). Free Admission for Talks and Telescope Viewing.
   Places for the theatre show are limited and pre-booking is essential. To book call us on 02837523689.


4. 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.


5. 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.


6. Venus, aka 'The Evening Star' heralds the New Year. 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 gradually improves for us in these latitudes. It completely outshines its neighbour but one, Mars, which lies about 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 in daylight if you know just where to look.


7. 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 Geological Society of N.I. 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.


8. 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!


9. 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.


10. 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:

11. 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

12. 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


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

13. FUTURE EVENTS ALERT: Note the dates:

* N.I. Science Festival: 16 - 26 February. The NISF is coming back for a third year! And it's set to be the biggest one yet. Mark it in your diaries and join us. Programme announcement updates coming soon. See 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.

* 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: 

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

15: 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)

Type 1A supernovae DO indicate expansion of universe is accelerating: 

Icy ridges found on Pluto: 



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


17. 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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