Saturday, 30 September 2017

Lecture, Soyuz in Belfast, Venus & Mars, Space week, ISS, Close PHA , New events

Hi all,
1. NEXT IAA LECTURE,  Wed 4 October, 7.30 p.m"Cloudy with a chance of flares: the importance of space weather forecasting". By Dr Sophie Murray of TCD. Dr Murray is an expert on 'space weather', which is the weather in and surrounding the Sun and how it affects the planets, especially planet Earth. And in addition, she also worked for a year at the Met Office in England, so she has a terrestrial meteorologist's expertise on space weather.
   Space weather is being recognised as being of great importance for our planet, as it affects everything from our own climate to our modern communications systems, astronauts and space-based equipment, air travel, and our electricity infrastructure.
   This will be a fascinating lecture, delivered by an eloquent expert on both aspects of the subject
Wed 4 October 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB. Free admission.  Free parking on QUB campus after 5.30 p.m.
N.B. This will be the IAA's event to mark 'SPACE WEEK'
2. NEW: BREAKING NEWS - Tim Peake's Soyuz spacecraft will be coming to Belfast! The Soyuz spacecraft which brought Tim Peake back to Earth will be coming to Belfast this autumn. More details later - watch this space!
3. NEW: Venus, the brilliant Morning Star, will pass close by Mars.  Venus is still well-placed in the dawn sky for the next few weeks. Watch as it approaches much fainter Mars over the next few mornings.
On 1 October Venus will be 2 deg 40' (about 5 Moon diameters) above right of Mars. On subsequent mornings that separation will shrink to 2 deg 6'; 1 deg 30; 56' (i.e. just under 1 deg), while by the morning of 5 Oct Venus will lie only 21' above Mars - that's about 2/3 of a Moon diameter. Next morning (6th) Venus will lie just 22' left of, and a bit below Mars, and the separation will then continue to increase as Venus moves in towards the Sun.
   Of course this is just a line of sight effect, as Mars lies much further away than Venus.
4. Astronomy photographer of the year awards
5. Space Week Public Lecture, 5 October, Dublin: "Voyager: Reconnaissance of the Solar System, Toward the Stars" by Kevin Nolan.
   Description: A public talk for non-expert and expert alike about the Voyager 40 year and continuing mission of the outer Solar System and into interstellar space. Kevin Nolan of The Planetary Society will look at the Voyager's past successes at the gas giant planets and also their current interstellar mission; as well as the follow-on missions the Voyagers have inspired - Cassini,  New Horizons,  Pale Red Dot exoplanet search and the Breakthrough Starshot to Alpha Centauri within decades; among others. 
   Venue: The Lecture Theatre, National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin 2
Date and Time: Thursday October 5th 2017, 7pm - 8pm (doors open from 6.40pm)
Charge: No advanced booking - pay at the door (cash only): Adults 5 Euro, Children and concessions 3 Euro, Family of 4 and over: 12 Euro
Contact: Kevin Nolan: (Mob: 087 238 6141)
SPACE WEEK: Our Planet  - Our Space - Our Time
Space Week is Ireland's 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 4 – 10,2017, 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
7. ISS. The International Space Station has just started a series of evening passes over Ireland, continuing until 14 October.  Details on the excellent free site
8. DIAS Lecture, 19 Oct:  "Brave new worlds: the planets in our galaxy" by Professor Giovanna Tinetti, University College London.
The DIAS School of Cosmic Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2017 takes place on Thursday 19th October at 6:30pm in UCD. (Theatre C (O'Connor Theatre - Room H2.22), Science Hub, University College Dublin.  Admission is free but advance booking is required on eventbrite here. 
9. NEW: Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2012 TC4 will make a close pass to Earth on 12 October. Astronomers are certain that it will not come any closer than 4,200 miles (but that's damn close!), but is more likely to be about 27,000 miles at its closest; Even so, that's just outside the orbit of the geosynchronous satellites. More details later as they become available.
10. NEW: Public Lecture, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, 13 October, 7 p.m.

"Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos" – Public talk by Visiting Professors Geraint Lewis and Luke Barnes. See  for details and booking.

11. NEW: Astronomy Evening, IPCC, Lullymore, Rathangan, Co Kildare, 14 October 7.0 -10.0 p.m. I will be presenting an astronomy evening at this dark sky site, with a lecture, a small display, and observing if clear. Details at
12. Mayo Dark Sky Festival 27-29 October.  "Our Place in the Cosmos" A great line-up of speakers again this year . See  

Booking now open at


13. NEW: Dark Matter Day: 31 October: This is a new event, aiming to raise awareness of the mysterious 'Dark Matter'. There will be a special show at Armagh Planetarium, and other events are being considered. Watch this space for updates. See



Astronomy Museums, Visitor Centres, & Public Observatories Workshop, 27-29 September 2017, Leiden, the Netherlands. See:  
World Space Week 2017: 4–10 October 2017, Location: All around the world. More Information: 
International Observe the Moon Night: 28 October 2017, Location: All around the world, More Information:

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


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).  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.
Material obscures supermassive black holes 
Conspiracy Theories, Apocalypse, UFOs etc.
Earth & Moon  
Solar System:
SPACE: Why oh why do they have such ridiculous illustrations? (1) Asteroids do not trail smoke in space! (2) The one illustrated is about 1,000 miles in diameter - bigger than any known asteroid, and none of the biggest 100 asteroids are going to hit Earth in the next million years. (3) There would be not the slightest hope of deflecting one this size. (4) If one anywhere near that size was to hit Earth, it would be the end of ALL life on Earth. But as already noted, that won't happen. You'd think that ESA should know better than to show lots of detail in brightly lit areas which are actually in shadow, and should therefore be inky-black - see the second and third illustrations! Back to Space School for whoever approved those!
OSIRIS-REx slingshots past Earth on way to Bennu 
Cosmic ray radiation danger to astronauts That's a start, but there's also the little matter of having to spend another 6-8 months in a cramped spacecraft before they even get to Mars, and another 6-8 months coming back again! Somewhere in the high cold deserts of S. America would be more realistic! There are several major drawbacks to this concept.
1. Since they won't land on Mars (except for possible short visits) they will be weightless for the whole of the 1,000 days - that will cause severe physiological degeneration. They should rotate at least part of the ship, to create some artificial gravity. And if they were to have a surface base on Mars instead, they would have 38% of Earth gravity for 8 months, which is a heck of a lot better than none.
2. They will be exposed to cosmic and solar radiation for the whole of the 1,000 days, although they will get brief periods of shielding from solar radiation only, when they pass behind Mars on each orbit. If they landed on Mars for the eight months they will be there, they could get shielding from both forms of radiation by building a suitable shielded habitation module, or by living in lava tubes. There is no mention of radiation shielding in the design of the ship.
3. By staying in the ship for almost all of the 1,000 days they will increase the psychological pressures from living together in such close quarters. - By going onto the surface for eight months or so, there would be a change of habitat, and the opportunity for much more EVA activity.


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