Friday, 5 January 2018

NY Party, Lecture, ISS, Mars/Jupiter close, Impact Crater talk, ESO's VR tour.

Hi all,


1. May I wish you all a very Happy New Year.


2. IAA New Year Party: Saturday 6th January 2018, at McBride's on the Square, Comber, Co. Down. We start off with buffet eats and drinks at McBride's, at 5.15 for 5.30 p.m.; then make our way to the Tudor Private Cinema about a mile away, for more seasonal hot drinks, a special showing of "Hidden Figures" (highly recommended), and the usual quiz for all. Details are on the IAA website, and a booking form was issued with the latest Stardust, sent to IAA members. Non-members can book via the IAA website All are welcome, including guests and non-members.

   McBride's is on the NW corner of the main Square in Comber. See  Parking is available in the Square, or on Killinchy St (A22), which is on the route to the Tudor Cinema.

   The Tudor Cinema is in Drumhirk Road, which is 1.3 miles (2.1 km) from McBride's on the right off the Killinchy Road (A22). It's exactly 1.0m (1.7km) from the roundabout at the junction of the Ring Road and Killinchy Road.

   And the entry to the cinema is the first laneway on the left on Drumhirk Road – it's 600 yds (550m) from the turn-off the Killinchy Road. Look for the IAA Party signs. Drive to the end of that laneway, and park.


3. IAA LECTURE,  Wed 10 January, 7.30 p.m. "Einstein made (relatively) Simple." By Brian MacGabhann (GAC). We are delighted to welcome Brian back to Belfast, in anticipation of another one of his superb lectures.

  SUMMARY: Einstein's Theory of Relativity represents the best and most complete explanation of the way the universe works which we currently have, and underpins all of modern cosmology, astronomy and astrophysics. The talk is aimed very much at the interested lay-person, and no previous knowledge of the topic is required. It will guide the audience through the core building blocks of the theory, and explain how Einstein arrived at the sometimes bizarre conclusions that he did. 
   This is the ideal lecture for anyone who has ever wondered what the Theory of relativity was all about, or who wanted an easy to follow guide to Einstein's ideas.

Wed 10 January, 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.


4. ISS.  A new series of morning passes over Ireland commenced on 28 December. Details for your own location, along with lots more information such as Iridium Flares, at


5. Mars- Jupiter Conjunction

In the early morning twilight, Mars has been gradually closing in on much brighter Jupiter: Mars is mag +1.5, whereas Jupiter is mag -1.8. Over the next few days the separation decreases until on 6 Jan Mars will be only 23' to the right of Jupiter. Next morning just after they rise Mars will be only 13' below and a bit right of Jupiter – that's less than half a Moon diameter. Next morning the separation will have increased to 35' – a bit more than a Moon diameter.


6. Earth at Perihelion. Earth was at its closest to the Sun in its elliptical orbit on January 03 at 05.34, at a distance of 0.9833 AU.


7. "HUNTING FOR A HIDDEN IMPACT CRATER IN SCOTLAND".  Dr Mike Simms is presenting a talk to Belfast Geologists' Society on Monday 15th January on this topic. VENUE: Ulster Museum (old Stranmillis Road entrance) 7:30 pm.  Tea and coffee from 7:00 pm. IAA members are very welcome to attend. 


8. IFAS Calendars – UPDATE: I have now got copies of the 2018 edition of these calendars for those who ordered them via me. I'll bring them to the meeting on 10 January.


 9. ESO launches new Virtual Reality Tours to experience its sites
ESO's Virtual Tours are a collection of hundreds of 360-degree panorama pictures that can be used for many purposes. ESO's latest release includes options to view the images in virtual reality mode or 360-degree panoramic mode. You can now use a cell phone with either a standard cardboard virtual reality headset or oculus rift glasses to experience tours of ESO's facilities in an exciting new way. This latest release also includes new and updated virtual tours of ESO's observatories and facilities, bringing better functionality on computers and new panoramic views.


10. Globe At Night Campaign, 2018 %C2%A0  


11. IAU enlarges and updates list of official star names;



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

*IAU C1 Exobiology WS - Astrobiology Introductory Course'18, 4-10 March. The third session of the Astrobiology Introductory Course will be held from 4 to 10 March 2018 at the Ornithological Reserve of le Teich (33, France). Courses are designed for students preparing their PhD thesis in Astronomy, Geology, Chemistry, Biology, or History/Philosophy of science and any students wishing to acquire interdisciplinary training in astrobiology to complete their initial training and to be able to address questions about the origins of life, its terrestrial evolution, and its distribution in the Universe. The deadline for applications is January 15th, 2018. For program and registration, please see the website: 

*European Week of Astronomy and Space Sciences (EWASS2018).  This will be in Liverpool, from 3 to 8 April 2018. See and

* 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: 

Inspiring Stars—the IAU Inclusive World Exhibition, 20-31 August 2018
"Inspiring Stars" will be an itinerant international exhibition promoted by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to disseminate world efforts on inclusive research and outreach activities in astronomy. This inclusive world exhibition by showcasing assistive research tools and best inclusive outreach practices intends to broaden the horizons of children, parents, teachers and astronomers—everybody can become a scientist (astronomer)—inspiring the love for science in young people's minds. 
The exhibition will premiere during the IAU General Assembly 2018 in Vienna, from 20–31 August and will be shown around the world. Stay tuned as we keep you posted on all the progress of this IAU not-to-be-missed project for 2018! 

Centenary of IAU in 2019:  IAU100: Uniting our World to Explore the Universe
In 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will celebrate its 100th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, the IAU will organize a year-long celebration to expand awareness of a century of astronomical discoveries as well as to support and improve the use of astronomy as a tool for education, development, and diplomacy under the central theme "Uniting our World to Explore the Universe". The celebrations will stimulate worldwide interest in astronomy and science and will reach out to the global astronomical community, national science organizations and societies, policy-makers, students and families, and the general public.
   For any inquiries, please contact Jorge Rivero González, the IAU100 Coordinator at: rivero[at]

13. 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 and and  The 'alien megastructure' was always far and away the least likely explanation. This was a bad example of wishful thinking and desire for publicity trumping (sorry!) sound scientific reasoning.


Earth & Moon

Noctilucent Clouds over Antarctica, from space: The hype has started early! It won't be blue in any sense; just a slightly larger than usual Full Moon, with a Total Lunar Eclipse, none of which is visible in Europe.


Light Pollution:


Solar System


SPACE Why do they use stupid expressions like "The Dragon capsule was towing nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies to the ISS". No, it wasn't. It was carrying …. 'Towing' would mean it was pulling something behind it in a trailer! Idiotic. And "bares" should be "bears". It's amazing that since 1969 to now in 2018 we still don't have a rocket nearly as powerful as the Saturn 5!


Telescopes, Equipment, etc.

Single lens can focus all colours in a single point.


14. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.


15. 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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