Friday, 17 November 2017

Lecture, Leonids, Cavan observing, IAA Obs, Exhibit, NASA naming, IFAS calendars

Hi all,


1.  IAA LECTURE,  Wed 29 Nov, 7.30 p.m. "How Antimatter Formed" by Dr Stuart Sim (ARC/QUB). The 'missing antimatter' problem is one of the major mysteries in our understanding of the universe. All versions of the Big Bang model indicate that ordinary matter and antimatter should have formed in equal quantities, and then mutually annihilated each other. The very fact that we are here, in a universe made almost exclusively of ordinary matter (ignoring Dark Matter and Dark Energy in this context), indicates that there's something missing in the theory! But antimatter does exist, as occasionally single antimatter particles are created by cosmic rays in our atmosphere; and it has been created in the lab in very small quantities, so it's real. But new research, in which Dr Sim was involved, is throwing some light on the universe's missing antimatter problem.

   Although it seems an esoteric subject, it's actually both fascinating and fundamental, and the lecture will be presented at a popular and understandable level.

   Fans of Dan Brown may have read 'Angels and Demons' which is based on the creation of antimatter in a lab. See

Wed 29 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.


2. Missing and misplaced items in these bulletins. Some people have reported that certain sections were missing or misplaced in recent issues of these bulletins. However most recipients seem to get them complete and in order! Very odd. To try to eliminate the problem I have changed the editing and copying process. If anyone still has any problems, please send a copy back to me just as you received it. Thanks. TM


3. Leonid Meteors. This shower, which has produced the greatest meteor storms ever recorded, is expected to give only a 'normal' display of up to 15 meteors per hour in good sky conditions this year. Maximum is predicted for 17h on Nov 17, so the nights of 16-17 and 17-18 Nov will provide best rates. The radiant is in the 'Sickle of Leo', and starts to reach a good altitude after local midnight. No Moonlight interference this year. The parent comet is Tempel-Tuttle.


4. Cavan-Monaghan Science Festival, 17 November, Observing at Cavan Burren Centre. 

I will be conducting an astronomy observing event for this festival at the Cavan Burren Centre, near Blacklion, Co Cavan.. I'll have a selection of telescopes and binoculars for observing, and if it's cloudy I'll be talking about choosing and using telescopes and binoculars, and I'll have some meteorites - 'actual rocks from space' - on display. Starts at 7 p.m.. See  and  


5. IAA Observing Evenings. The next of these events will be this weekend, at Delamont  Country Park, near Killyleagh, Co Down. The format is that if it's clear on Friday evening, we go ahead, but if it's cloudy, we try again on the Saturday evening. If both nights are cloudy, we try again the following weekend. Check the IAA website , each of those afternoons to see if it's 'Go' or No-Go'.


6. IAA Photo Exhibition, Carrickfergus Our very successful photo exhibition continues at its latest venue, Carrickfergus Museum and Civic Centre, until 6 January. Be sure to watch the excellent video display of some recent aurorae and other phenomena such as eclipses and conjunctions. Also on display are various antique telescopes and other astronomical equipment on loan from Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and myself, and some space items on loan from Dr Andy McCrea. It continues there until 6 January.

For further information please contact Carrickfergus Museum, T: 028 9335 8241 or E:


 7.  NASA invites names for next New Horizons target body. . I have already suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that after visiting Pluto, the next target has to be called Goofy!

   But seriously, how about a campaign from all Irish astronomers to have it named 'Edgeworth', after Kenneth Edgeworth of Streete, Co Westmeath, who predicted the existence of the large group of small bodies in the outer solar system, of which this body is one. The accepted name for this band of smallish bodies is the Kuiper Belt, named after the Dutch-American astronomer who later gave it more publicity. However many local astronomers refer to it as the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. We are unlikely to get the accepted name for the KB changed, but naming this particular object after Edgeworth would give some long-overdue recognition to a noted local astronomer. So if you agree, vote Edgeworth, and pass it on!

See  and  


8. 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, .


9. IFAS Calendars The 2018 edition of these excellent calendars, featuring astronomical photos by Irish amateurs, is now available. It also includes details of all the known astronomical events during 2018. To avoid having to pay postage costs to N.I., if any local members want a copy I can collect them at an event in Dunsink on 15 December and bring them to the next IAA meeting in early January. They cost €6 each, so if you want me to get you one you MUST pay me either €6 or £5.30,  in advance, at any IAA meeting before 15 Jan. PLEASE LET ME KNOW BY RETURN IF YOU WANT TO DO THIS, so I can pre-order the required number from Michael Murphy.


10. 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.


11. Archaeoastronomy lecture, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, 7 December. "Facing the Sun". This talk asks (and answers) the intriguing question - why were solstitial and, in a few cases, orientations close to sunrise and sunset near the equinoxes incorporated into passage tomb architecture? This will be given by the well-known authority on this topic, Dr Frank Prendergast. The talk is based on a major article in the forthcoming winter issue of Archaeology Ireland by Frank Prendergast and colleagues.  

   Facing the Sun: understanding the significance of the winter solstice in passage tomb architecture.

December 2017 marks fifty years since M. J. O' Kelly first investigated the winter solstice at Newgrange. O'Kelly subsequently recorded direct sunlight entering Newgrange through the 'especially contrived slit which lies under the roof-box at the outer end of the passage roof'  on 21 December 1969.

    The discovery of this prehistoric phenomenon at Newgrange, dating back over 5000 years, captured the public interest and imagination at that time and ever since.

    In a major article in the forthcoming Winter 2017 Archaeology Ireland (publication 4 December), leading experts in this field, Frank Prendergast, Muiris O'Sullivan, Ken Williams and Gabriel Cooney, ask (and answer)

Why were solstitial and, in a few cases, orientations close to sunrise and sunset near the equinoxes incorporated into passage tomb architecture?

   Examining positional astronomy and solar alignments, the changing skyscape through the year and the sun at solstice, the authors consider solstitial alignments in Irish Passage Tombs, including Newgrange, Dowth, Loughcrew (Co. Meath) and Townley Hall (Co. Louth) passage tombs and draw specifically on evidence from a number of other sites, such as Slieve Gullion (Co. Armagh); Thomastown (Co. Meath) and Knockroe (Co. Kilkenny).

    This major article features stunning images from renowned photographer Ken Williams and provides a major introduction to the fascinating area of Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy.


12. Global Science Opera, 13 December 2017; Moon Village — new PR movie
On Dec. 13th, 2017 at 2:00 PM GMT, the Global Science Opera will livestream the opera "Moon Village". This science opera will be performed around the planet as result of a year-long creative inquiry shared by schools, universities, and art institutions in 25 countries. It will communicate the process, science and technology of the European Space Agency's Moon Village. The "Moon Village" Global Science Opera is the first opera initiative to produce and perform operas as a global community and is a cooperation organized by a vast network of institutions. The opera may be viewed online on Dec. 13th, 2017 at 2:00 PM GMT here: 
Find out more at  


13. 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).


14. IAS Event at Dunsink Observatory, 15 December: "Stars, Comets and Mince Pies". See



* IAA New Year Party: 6 January 2018, Comber, Co Down. More details later.

* Galway Astrofest: Saturday 27 January 2018. More details later.

* International Day of Light, 16 May 2018.    Plan ahead and register your event in the official International Day of Light 2018 calendar! Following the highly successful International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies in 2015, May 16th, the International Day of Light, will provide an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of the central role that light plays in the lives of the citizens of the world. The broad theme of light allows many different sectors of society to participate in activities to raise awareness of science and technology, art and culture, and their importance in achieving the goals of UNESCO — education, equality and peace. 

   A good opportunity to highlight (!) light-pollution! And promote Earth Hour as well.

Register your event by filling out the form:

* International Planetarium Society,  1–6 July 2018Toulouse, France. More Information:  
* Robotic Telescopes, Student Research and Education (RTSRE) & InterNational Astronomy Teaching Summit Conferences, 23-27 July 2018. The 2nd annual Conference on Robotic Telescopes, Student Research and Education (RTSRE) will be held in Hilo, Hawai'i from July 23-25, 2018. This conference series focuses on building a sustainable community around the educational, technical, and student research uses of robotic telescopes. The conference will be co-located with the interNational Astronomy Teaching Summit (iNATS) from July 25-27, 2018 providing worldwide networking opportunities and hands-on workshops designed to expand educators' teaching strategy toolkit designed for innovative astronomy professors, teachers, and outreach professionals.  Find more information here: 


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).  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 . How far away are the satellite galaxies from the parent galaxy? Even if the line joining them to the main galaxy is face-on to us, they are still further away than the Magellanic Clouds are from the MW.

Two huge galaxies in extreme star-bursting merger  

Stellar explosions and element creation in Perseus galaxy cluster  

'Cosmic snake' throws light on galaxy structure and evolution



Gravitational waves from Supermassive Black Holes will be spotted within 10 years – they say


Earth & Moon

 A warning for inhabitants of Planet Earth. Some may object to inclusion of this as non-astronomical, but the Earth is a planet, and it's the only one we know to have life. Some, but not all of it, (including humans), even shows signs of intelligence.


Exoplanets  An act of gross irresponsibility, as we don't know what life forms may already be there.


SETI . You can only laugh at the comment that the signal is 'expected' to take 'up to' '12 years'  to get there! It's not a case of expected, and not up to, and not 12 – it will take exactly 12.36y years to get there, at light-speed!



NASA conducts high-speed Mars 2020 parachute test  A Uranium rector? What next - a plutonium pastor?


Telescopes and Instruments.

The powerful Zwicky Transient Facility sees first light:  


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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