Saturday, 22 April 2017

IAA Council, Fitzgerald Award, Enceladians? Cassini, Space record, Space App etc

Hi all,



The following were elected at the AGM on 12 April:

President: Paul Evans

Vice Presidents: Danny Collins, Dr Andy McCrea

Secretary: Tony Kempston

Treasurer; Pat O'Neill

Membership secretary: Brian Beesley

Editor of Stardust: Dr Andy McCrea

Webmaster: Paul Evans

Schools Officer: Eleanor Edwards

PR Officer and meetings organiser: Terry Moseley

A.P. Fitzgerald Medal Award - The Association's Aidan P Fitzgerald Medal, awarded "For Outstanding Service to the Association" was awarded to Professor Mark Bailey MBE, Emeritus Director, Armagh Observatory, for all the support and assistance he has given to the IAA ever since his appointment as Director at Armagh in 1995. Unfortunately Mark was in Donegal at the time so was not able to accept the award in person, but arrangements will be made for a proper presentation inn due course. Well deserved, Mark, and we all hope you enjoy your 'retirement'!

Yuri's Night. To mark Yuri's Night, celebrating the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first ever human spaceflight, we showed several short films about the flight, including one Russian one not widely seen before.

Auction: We had a very successful auction of telescopes and equipment, raising a considerable sum for the IAA. Thanks to all who have donated equipment over the years. Young Hayden Geraghty, who has become quite a media star recently, featured strongly in the bidding! See:

NEXT LECTURE: The first lecture of the new season will be on Wed 20 September

TIME: 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB.

Free admission.  Free parking on QUB campus after 5.30 p.m.


2. NASA - 'Meet the Enceladians'! Well, not quite, but ... 


and watch 

  N.B. A lot depends on how long Enceladus has been like this - if only comparatively recently (even on an astronomical timescale) there may not have been time yet for life to evolve.
   Little did I think when I was observing Enceladus and the other 7 brightest moons of Saturn with the 10-inch refractor at Armagh Observatory at the time of the 1966 triple ring-plane crossing that little Enceladus (at mag 11.7, comparatively easy to see, compared with the faintest one I saw: Mimas at mag 12.9) was a possible source of life!


3. Spot Comet Lovejoy (C/2017 E4). This comet is now just above Beta Andromedae, the middle star of the three bright ones in the 'Line of Andromeda'. The comet, which is about 7th magnitude, is moving from SW to NE,  You'll need binoculars to see it, and a telescope will show more detail. www.heavens-above gives its position at any time.


4. Cassini the amazing Spacecraft exploring Saturn and its system, will make a close pass over Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and then make the first of a series of amazing and hazardous dives through the gap between Saturn and its rings on 26 April. Watch out for some amazing images coming back.


5. ISS. The ISS will commence another series of morning passes over Ireland on 11 May


6. Jupiter at Opposition. Jupiter was at opposition on 7 April, so it's still well placed for observing, in Virgo. it's the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon, so you can't possibly miss it.


7. New Space Record for USA: NASA Astronaut Fischer and Cosmonaut Yurchikhin have joined Nasa's Peggy Whitson, Russia's Oleg Novitskiy and France's Thomas Pesquet on board the ISS.

The two American astronauts are scheduled to speak with President Donald Trump on Monday. 

On that day, Ms Whitson, the first woman to command the International Space Station, will have spent 535 days in space - more time than any other American astronaut. Jeffrey Williams currently holds the record, with 534 days spent in space. At 57, Ms Whitson also is the oldest woman in space. She plans to returns to Earth in September.


8. PhD scholarships at DIAS.

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) will be offering a number of PhD scholarships to work in the areas of Star and Planet Formation as well as in the development of optical/near infrared detectors for use in astronomy. Funding is available for 4 years starting from September/October 2016 and includes a stipend (at
current Science Foundation Ireland rates), postgraduate university fees, an IT allowance, and provision for conference and workshop participation. A primary degree in physics, computer science, astronomy or a related field is required.
   Interested students are asked to send a brief statement of their research interests, a CV, and to arrange for 2 letters of recommendation to be sent directly to Ms Eileen Flood, ( from whom further information can be obtained. Detailed inquiries can be made to Prof Tom Ray ( The deadline for applications, including receipt of letters of recommendation, is Friday 28th April 2017.


9. Space App Challenge From 29-30 April, for 48 hours across the world, problem solvers can join the International Space Apps Challenge, one of the largest hackathons in the world. Empowered by open data, participants can collaborate with strangers, colleagues, friends, and family to solve puzzling challenges in new and unexpected ways. You can follow up on what last year's Galactic Impact Award winners have been up to since Space Apps during previous years on the Space App Blog.
  This year's edition participant registration is now open, and you can find more information here:

10. NASA Image and Video Library
NASA has launched a new resource to help the public search and download images, videos and audio files by keyword and metadata. The new NASA Image and Video Library allows users to search, discover and download 140 000 NASA images, videos and audio files from across the agency's many missions in aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight and more.
Official press release
here and go to the official website: 


11. "An Introduction to Astronomy" A weekend course delivered by Professor Paul Callanan, University College Cork & Dr Michael Connolly, County Archaeologist

UCC Astronomy course in association with Kerry County Council and The Skellig Centre for Research & Innovation 12th - 13th May 2017. UCC Accredited Course 5ECTS. Venue: The Royal Hotel Valentia, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry.
   The course aims to provide participants with a working knowledge of the night sky and equip them with some of the skills they would need to become Star Gazing Guides.
   The course will provide a basic introduction to astronomy, from an observational viewpoint, starting with the Earth and its local environment within the Solar System, moving to the Galaxy, and the Universe at large.  An introduction to the connection between archaeology and astronomy will also be discussed and course participants will have the opportunity to observe the night sky (weather permitting).
   The course will commence at 17:00 on Friday 12th May 2017 and finish at 18:00 on Saturday 13th May 2017 Course fee: €50 includes lunch, teas & coffees
   To book your place log on to:
   All enquires to Sinead Lennon e: t: 021 4904700 or The Skellig Centre for Research & Innovation Manager Clíodhna O'Callaghan e: clí t: 087 1403383


12. Space 360. "Space 360" is a series of stunning 360° videos from the International Space Station (ISS) that provide an immersive experience of life in orbit. The project features the first-ever 360° videos filmed from low Earth orbit, footage captured by Russian cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko. "Space 360" is part of a collaboration with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, rocket and space corporation Energia, and TV network RT.
You can find more information on the project by exploring the official "Space 360" website:

13. IAA Photo Exhibition "Heavens Above" & public outreach event, Bangor 3 July.  On Monday 3rd July the Irish Astronomical Association (IAA) will launch "Heavens Above", an exhibition of astonishing photographs of the sky taken exclusively by members of the Association in the Bangor Carnegie Library. The exhibition will run to 29th July. There will also be a public lecture, and solar and possibly lunar viewing, weather permitting.


14. AstroCamp 2017 The European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) are collaborating to support AstroCamp 2017, an astronomy-focused summer academic programme for secondary school students. The Summer AstroCamp 2017 will be held from 6 to 20 August in northern Portugal, at the Centre for Environmental Education and Interpretation of the Corno de Bico Protected Landscape. The applicant with the best application from one of ESO's Member States who is eligible to apply will win a bursary offered by ESO that will cover the camp fee.
Read more


15. Backyard Worlds: Planet Nine. Backyard Worlds is hoping to discover a large planet at the fringes of our solar system — a world astronomers call Planet Nine. But Backyard Worlds need your help! Finding such dim objects requires combing through images by eye, to distinguish moving celestial bodies from ghosts and other artifacts. So come and join the search — there are many images to look through. In the end you might discover a rogue world that's even nearer to the Sun than Proxima Centauri! Discover more about the project and how to contribute here:


16. Blackrock Castle Observatory Space Camps, July 10 - 21

Book your space camper in for a fun filled week of space and science activities.
Join us each day from 9:30 to 12:30.
Week 1 | July 10 - 14 | suitable for ages 7 to 9
Week 2 | July 17 - 21 | suitable for ages 10 to 12

The cost for each Space Camper is €95 per child which includes 1 week of Space Camp, Space Camp t-shirt & all activity materials.

Payment must be paid before your chosen Space Camp begins. 10% Discounts apply for members and siblings attending.

Please call us on 021 4326120 or email to book. For more information see



* Solar Day, Dunsink Observatory: 17 June.

* Starmus Festival IV: Life And The Universe:  18–23 June 2017. Location: Trondheim, Norway. More information: 

* IAA Midsummer BBQ event. 24 June.

* European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS): 26–30 June 201,: Prague, Czech Republic. More information: 

* Asteroid Day: 30 June 2017. Location: Around the world. More Information: 
* ISSP: Major Event: The International Space Studies Programme (ISSP) will be coming to Ireland this year. It will be based at Cork Institute of Technology, running from 26 June to 25 August. NB  Buzz Aldrin will be there for the opening ceremony. There will be many events open to the public, they'll all be advertised on the SSP17 website if you can keep an eye on that for dates and tickets.

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

* IAA Solar Day, 6 August, WWT, Castle Espie, 2 - 5 p.m.

* 36th International Meteor Conference, in Petnica, Serbia, from September 21 to 24, 2017. For details contact the Local Organizing Committee at 

* International Observe the Moon Night, 28 October 2017. More Information: 


18: 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).  NB: If the title in the weblink does not indicate the subject matter, I give a brief simple intro before the link. I may also comment about the link afterwards.
"Caught on camera" is not quite the way to put it!
Supermassive Black Holes stifle galaxy growth 
Largest survey of high-mass binaries. Note Dr Jorick Vink of Armagh Observatory is one of the co-authors 
New Horizons measures brightness of universe:
Earth & Moon  
Solar System:
New distant Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Object on edge of Solar System. It's a pity that the illustration by Alexandra Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF) is inaccurate in several respects: 1. The 'horns' of the illuminated crescent should point symmetrically away from the Sun, not in the lop-sided fashion shown here. 2. The dark side of the object should be totally dark, unless it has a large close Moon to reflect sunlight onto it, for which there is no evidence.
and This is by Michelle Bannister, who recently gave us a fascinating lecture on this topic.
Detailed map of possible Mars Rover landing site 
Space: But there's always the 'outside toilet' (sorry: 'restroom') if you're desperate! Funny, though - it didn't show the crew compartment landing.....
19. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.


20. 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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