Wednesday, 1 November 2017

JWST Lecture, Subs, Exhibition, Events/talks: Cavan, Armagh, Crossmaglen, Dublin

Hi all,
1. IAA LECTURE,  Wed 1 Nov, 7.30 p.m: "Preparing for Science with the James Webb Space Telescope " by Prof Tom Ray, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
"The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is due for launch in October of next year on an Ariane V rocket. With much more light gathering power than Hubble, and the ability to operate well into the infrared, it will explore such topics as the re-ionization of the Universe, the formation of galaxies at very high redshifts, the birth of stars and planets, and exoplanet atmospheres. After giving an overview of JWST's main instruments, and the type of science they are capable of, I will concentrate in particular on what they can tell us about the first million years in the lifetime of a star like our Sun."
   Prof Ray is one of Ireland's leading astronomers, and has given us several really excellent lectures before, so this promises to be another treat.
See - adjusting the JWST optics while it's in orbit.
Wed 1 November 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. Mayo Dark Sky Festival 27-29 October.  Congrats to Fiona, Derek, and the rest of the team for another excellent and very enjoyable event.
4. IAA Photo Exhibition Launch Event. Our very successful photo exhibition moves to its next venue, Carrickfergus Museum and Civic Centre, on 10 November, with a special event on Friday evening, and on Saturday 11th.

Friday 10 November, 7pm – 9.30pm

Launch event with public talks, stargazing event (weather permitting), Oculus rift virtual reality

and Stardome (£2 per person) – all welcome, refreshments provided.

Saturday 11 November 2pm – 4.30pm

Visit the Stardome – bringing the night sky to life inside the inflatable dome! (£2 per person)

For further information please contact Carrickfergus Museum

T: 028 9335 8241 or E:

5. Cavan Science Festival, 17 November. This will include astronomy - more details in next bulletin.
6. Robinson Lecture, Armagh, 22 November. The next in this top-flight series - the 2018 Robinson Lecture, will be given by Professor Louise Harra of University College London.  Her topic is about the Solar Orbiter, a new spacecraft to be launched to study the Sun. It will be held in the Archbishop's Palace in Armagh on Wednesday 22 November, 2017, starting at 7pm.  Tickets are available via the Visit Armagh website.
7. Astroarchaeology lecture, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, 7 December. This will be given by the well-known authority on this topic, Dr Frank Prendergast. More details in next bulletin.  
8. DIAS PUBLIC LECTURE, 15 Dec: "The Physics and Astrophysics of Merging Neutron-Star Binaries" Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies – School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2017. Friday 15th December 2017 at 6.00 p.m. By: Prof. Dr. Luciano Rezzolla (Goethe University of Frankfurt).

Edmund Burke Theatre (Room 1008), Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin.

Admission by ticket only, via DIAS website.

Abstract: I will argue that if black holes represent one the most fascinating implications of Einstein's theory of gravity, neutron stars in binary system are arguably its richest laboratory, where gravity blends with astrophysics and particle physics. I will discuss the rapid recent progress made in modelling these systems and show how the inspiral and merger of a binary system of neutron stars is more than a strong source of gravitational waves. Indeed, while the gravitational signal can provide tight constraints on the equation of state for matter at nuclear densities, the formation of a black-hole–torus system can explain much of the phenomenology of short gamma-ray bursts, while the ejection of matter during the merger can shed light on the chemical enrichment of the universe.

 Prof. Dr. Luciano Rezzolla is presently the Chair of Theoretical (Relativistic) Astrophysics and Director at the Institute for Theoretical Physics (ITP) of the Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany. He is also Senior Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies (FIAS).



IAA New Year Party: 6 January, Comber, Co Down. More details later.

Galway Astrofest: Saturday 27 January. More details later.

10. 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.
Astrophysics Eh, the reference to the 'speed of sound' should of course be to the 'speed of light'!
Earth & Moon and We already know from Genesis and Matthew that the Bible is not particularly good on science.  The fact that they don't even know what the original text meant just illustrates the ambiguity in many parts of the text. However, applying the meaning of 'stopping shining' rather than 'stopping moving' to make it fit an eclipse is dangerous - it could possibly be applied to the Sun during an eclipse, but not to the Moon at the same time, which was similarly described in Joshua, as it is invisible anyway in the period leading up to an eclipse. So why apply that meaning to just one of two similar phenomena?
   It's a bit like trying to find an astronomical explanation for the so-called 'Star of Bethlehem' - sorry, but there isn't one!
   Anyway, how does a solar eclipse enable one side in a battle to win over the other? - both sides are affected equally by the drop in light.
   Also, the eclipse was annular, with a magnitude of only about 93%. And believe it or not, while there is still 7% of the Sun unobscured, you can see quite clearly - certainly well enough to continue fighting a battle.
    This is another example of trying too hard to get an scientific explanation for something with no real scientific basis, methinks.
   Finally, that's a ridiculous illustration of a total solar eclipse! It shows the Moon as if it's semi-transparent, as you can see the Sun shining faintly through 2,100 miles of solid rock! Shutterstock fails again!
Solar System:
Sand levitating on boiling water on Mars formed landscapes
TCD shows that Winters on Mars shape landscape 
2: Subscription Reminder IAA membership renewal was due on 01 September. If you have renewed your subscription, thank you. If not your membership will lapse, and you will not get the next issue of Stardust, nor invitations to other IAA events. We have managed to avoid increasing the subscription for many years now, in spite of increasing costs, so it's even better value!  Details of how you can pay are on the website, According to the first illustration, those spheres are about 1km diameter. They would each weigh some billions of tons. Getting even one to Martian orbit would require the total energy output of planet Earth! And just how would one soft-land something that size and mass on the surface of Mars? It's not even within the realms of rational speculation.
UFOs / Conspiracy Theories / Apocalypses etc Thank goodness for this - it's been at least a month since the last one, and I was beginning to suffer from 'Apocalypse/Nibiru Prediction Withdrawal Symptom'. I feel much better now!
11. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.


12. 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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