Saturday, 4 November 2017

Lectures, Space, Meteors, Centenary, Zebunar, Exhibition, MOOC, Opera, more!

Hi all,
(LOTS of new stuff in this issue!)
1. IAA LECTURE,  Wed 15 Nov, 7.30 p.m: "Astronomical Spectroscopy for Amateurs" by Dr David Lisk. Spectroscopy is probably the single most important tool available to the astronomer, allowing us to determine the composition of everything in the universe from aurorae and meteors in our upper atmosphere, through planets, moons, comets and asteroids in our Solar System, to the atmospheres of exoplanets, the stars and nebulae in our own galaxy, and out to the most distant galaxies and quasars in the far reaches of the universe. Come and discover how amateurs like ourselves can use this amazing technique to learn more about our fantastic universe
Wed 15 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. ISS The ISS commences a new series of morning passes over Ireland, from Nov 4 to Nov 15. Details as usual on the excellent free site
4. The TAURID Meteors are active during the first half of November. Not the richest shower of the year, but the meteors tend to be slow with a few fireballs, and can give some nice photos if you are lucky. The radiant is not far from Aldebaran.
5. Centenary of 100-inch Hooker telescope  The 100-inch telescopes saw its first light on Nov. 1, 1917, becoming the first telescope to surpass in size the 72" Leviathan at Birr, which was built in 1845.
6. Ulster Museum Autumn Science Free Lecture Series, Tue 7 November,
19.00 - 20.30. Pioneers of Science: Robert Boyle, Father of Modern Chemistry.

Come and see Eoin Gill, the man behind the annual Robert Boyle Summer Schools in Lismore, Co. Waterford, in a costumed recreation of Boyle's most famous experiments that demonstrate his fundamental discoveries in physics and chemistry.

Eoin will tell the story of Boyle's life and show how he was a pioneer of the transition from the old world view, inherited from Aristotle, to a recognisably modern scientific approach. Eoin Gill is a director of Calmast STEM Outreach Centre at Waterford Institute of Technology.

   There are 3 more lectures on successive Thursdays (not Tuesdays), about Lord Kelvin, his father and brother (both James), and Josiah Wedgewood

All lectures commence at 7pm in the Ulster Museum lecture theatre. Doors open from 6.45.

Tuesday 7th November            

Thursday 16th November          

Thursday 23rd November        

Thursday 30th November        

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,
About Planet Zebunar: Designed to inspire the next generation of engineers, astronauts, scientists and innovators. Planet Zebunar is character and story based which draws on the imagination of the child and it combines offline elements with an augmented reality app to engage the different ways that children play and learn.
The product is inclusive and educational and has been developed over the past 24 months through focus groups and workshops with children, parents, teachers, STEM professionals, game developers, and child psychologists.
The products will be available online at and in Designist, the Science Gallery, and the National Gallery of Ireland from November 9th.
7. Planet Zebunar Launch, November 8th To mark this exciting event, the amazing Dr Norah Patten, creator of Planet Zebunar, will be having a launch party in Designist on George Street, Dublin from 6-8pm. All welcome. 

Dr. Norah Patten is a faculty member at the International Space University and is the founder of Planet Zebunar, which produces STEM educational products to inspire the next generation of engineers, astronauts and scientists. Through a partnership with NanoRacks, Norah initiated and managed 'The Only Way is Up' project which launched Ireland's first student experiment to the ISS in 2014. She is a regular speaker at public events, and has featured on national television and radio. Norah has recently been selected for the PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Program

8. IAA Photo Exhibition Launch Event, 10 - 11 November. 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:

9. BCO  How did the Universe get so big?, Nov 15, 6pm – 10pm at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork. With ESO senior astronomer, Jason Spyromilio.
CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory are celebrating the recent announcement of Ireland's membership of the European Southern Observatory with an open night during Science Week. This free night will feature family friendly workshops, a talk from Spyromilio on the most recent discoveries of the accelerating expansion of the universe (BOOKING REQUIRED FOR THE TALK) and stargazing.
6pm – 8pm    |     Telescopes vs Eyes    |    Family friendly workshop. Discover how telescopes have changed our understanding of the Universe. How did early astronomers make sense of the cosmos and how has that changed as technology has developed?
A practical, creative session for astro-enthusiasts of all ages. Drop-in sessions between 6pm and 8pm, stay for 5 minutes or for 30!
7.30pm     |    How did the Universe get so big?    |    BOOKING REQUIRED.
The size of the universe as seen through observations from antiquity until the modern era has steadily increased. We will follow our growth in understanding through the observations from Eratosthenes to the most recent discoveries of the accelerating expansion of the universe.
Jason Spyromilio is a senior astronomer at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). His research interests are focused on supernovae and their use in understanding the physics of explosions. He was a member of the high-z team that co-discovered the acceleration of the expansion of the universe (for which they were all awarded the Gruber prize, more recently the Breakthrough prize) and was a member of the ESSENCE collaboration that continued that work. He has participated in work on beta Pic, comets, brown dwarfs, planetary nebulae etc. BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE
7pm    |    Stargazing. Discover the wonders of the night sky with weather dependent star gazing with the Cork Astronomy Club
10. Astrophysics: from the Solar System to Big Bang — new MOOC in French 
   Incorporated in FUN MOOC 
platform, the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille has launched a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): Astrophysique: du système solaire au big bang. This course runs from November 13, 2017, to January 31, 2018, and is intended for French-speaking communities. It is primarily designed for an audience with a minimal scientific background, but it will also provide useful and interesting information to any other members of the public wishing to understand the Universe. You can find all information here:
   (This is probably beyond most of our francophone abilities, but maybe some local institution would think of doing something similar in English? TM)
11. Cavan Science Festival, 17 November. This will include astronomy - more details in next bulletin.
12. 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.
13. 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. 
 More details in next bulletin.
14. 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
15. 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 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 2018, Toulouse, 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: 


17. 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.
Shedding light on matter accretion in young stars
Asteroids show in photo of distant galaxies
Dark Matter evidence from atomic clocks in satellites Quote: "a dark matter particle could have a mass as large as a dwarf planet" ! Since Pallas and Vesta have masses of around 300 x 10 to power 15 tonnes, that would be one heck of a punch if it hit you! Even a small dwarf planet has a mass of billions of tonnes. I wonder what force could produce such a particle, and could anything accelerate it other than gravity? And while we might be able to detect a rogue asteroid or comet heading our way and do something about it, if there's a DM particle of that mass coming our way at cosmic velocity, it's time to kiss your a** goodbye! Except that we wouldn't know about it until it hit us.
Earth & Moon  
First evidence of exoplanets was overlooked for 100 years!
Atmospheric clues for habitable exoplanets 
Solar System:
Investigating other planets' magnetospheres 
Telescopes, Equipment, etc. The telescope mirror will be 30m across, not "long". And the E-ELT will be 39m across, not 42m 'long'!
JWST will be able to self-correct its imaging 
18. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.


19. 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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