Friday, 27 July 2018

Total Lunar Eclipse, ISS, Mars closest, Martikal dust storm, AOP's 50 years of SciFi, Perseids BBQ, Skelligs SP

Hi all,
1. Total Lunar Eclipse, 27 July: (Times are in BST/IST)
This is the first TLE visible from Ireland since 28 Sep 2015, but we won't see all of it.
Totality starts at 20h 29m 39s, and maximum eclipse will be at 21h 21m 27s, but the Moon won't rise from Belfast until 21h 27m 10s, and from Dublin until 21h 22m 10s
   Totality will end at 22h 13m 14s, when the Moon's altitude in Belfast will be 4.4º, and from Dublin will be 5.2º.
This will be the longest lunar eclipse of the current century.
   The umbral phase will end at 23h 19 02s. The umbral magnitude will be 1.614, which means that the Earth's shadow will be 1.614 times the apparent diameter of the Moon.
   For the best view, go as far to the SE as possible. From Wicklow Head, Moonrise will be at 21h 19m 33s, and from Bing Head, just East of Rosslare Harbour, Moonrise will be at 21h 17 m 44s, both nominally before maximum eclipse. In N Ireland, SE County Down will give the best view, although even there maximum eclipse will be just before Moonrise.
   Note that 'Moonrise' is defined as when the upper limb of the Moon first appears above the theoretical horizon, i.e. altitude = 0º. It will be about 4 minutes more before the whole moon is fully above the horizon, and even longer if your actual horizon is above the theoretical one. Obviously you should choose a viewing location with the clearest possible view to the SE. The azimuth of Moonrise will be about 124 degrees, which is halfway between ESE and SE, or "SE by E" for those who know the full 32 points of the compass!
   Also note that the Moon will be deep in the Earth's shadow at Moonrise, and may be a dull red colour and very faint, so if there is any low haze, it may not be visible to the naked eye! So bring binocs just in case.
   Mars will be about 6 degrees to the S of the Moon, and at an excellent opposition, magnitude a brilliant -2.8, but it won't rise until about 45-50 minutes after the Moon.
The IAA will hold TWO PUBLIC VIEWING EVENTS for this eclipse, starting at 9.15 p.m:
A: at Knockagh War Memorial Monument on the hill overlooking Greenisland, Co. Antrim, and
B. at the car park on Scrabo Hill, near Newtownards.
Both these locations have an excellent view to the SE, across Belfast Lough, and Strangford Lough, respectively. We will have a selection of telescopes and binoculars to give the best possible view of the eclipse, advice on how to photograph it; to look at Mars which will be at its closest to Earth since 2003; and to answer all your questions about eclipses, and astronomy generally.
MORE GOOD NEWS – we will also be treated to a very bright pass of the International Space Station just after 11 p.m. – that can be seen from anywhere in the country, but we will give you an informed running commentary on it.
 For more information see:
Also see graphics of the Lunar Eclipse at 2200, and a high and bright ISS pass at 2305 also showing planets, and link to Date and Time with precise timings and graphics.
Full Details (all times BST/IST):
Moon enters umbra: 19h 23m 52s
Start of totality: 20h 29m 39s
Mid eclipse: 21h 21m 27s.
End of totality: 22h 13m 14s
Moon leaves umbra: 23h 19m 02s
Moon leaves penumbra: 24h 30m 05s.
   Remember that the Moon will be rising fully eclipsed, so it will be very faint! In fact, with a combination of atmospheric absorption and any low haze, it may be invisible to the naked eye until it gets up a bit higher. So plan in advance just where you need to look for it as it rises!
   Moonrise will be at an azimuth of about 127 degrees, which is about halfway between ESE and SE (that's SE by E for any others who know the full 32 points of the compass!). Many smartphones have a compass function; you can use this to locate that exact direction. If not, moonrise will occur about 20 degrees to the lower left of Saturn – a direction of about 8.0 o'clock on a clock face from Saturn to be more precise. Or just continue the line from Jupiter through Saturn until it meets the horizon.
   For a nice photo, try to get some feature such as a lighthouse in the foreground.
2. Red Moon Serene Universe, 27 July – BCO Lunar Eclipse viewing Event
Join us at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory from 7.30pm, on Friday 27th July, 2018, for an opportunity to look out beyond our life on the ground and experience the magnificence of space. On this evening the Moon will pass through the Earth's shadow. It will be a very deep eclipse, as the Moon will pass almost straight through the middle of the shadow. As the deep red Moon rises higher in the sky in the hours that follow, it slowly moves out of the eclipse which ends at 23:15 local time, when the full Moon will return to its normal appearance.
7.30pm to 8.30pm: Serene Universe - Film with concert performance, Adult audience. Followed by Shadows - Short Talk with Maarten Roos. Booking required.
 7.30pm to 8.30pm: Family Friendly Eclipse Workshop: no booking required, drop in.
 9pm: Moon Viewing: No booking required, weather dependent
3. ISS. The ISS continues its series of 'around midnight' passes over Ireland until 4 August. Details for your own location, and lots more info on space and astronomy, on
4. Mars.  Will reach its best opposition since 2003 on July 27 at 05h 12m, when it will be only 0.3862 Astronomical Units (AU) from Earth.  However closest approach will actually occur on July 31 at 07h 49m, when the separation will be 0.3849629 AU from the centre of the Earth. An AU is 149,597,871km, so you (or your Smartphone) can do the maths!
   It will then reach mag -2.8 (even brighter than Jupiter at its best!), with an apparent diameter of 24.31"
   Even at that very close distance, its light takes over 3m 12s to reach us, so if you were having a phone call to an astronaut on Mars there would be a delay of at least 6m 24s from you speaking until you heard the reply!
  Unfortunately it will be very far South, in Capricornus, with a declination of almost 26º South, so it will be very poorly placed for observation from Ireland. But if you are on holiday in more Southerly latitudes then, it will be a glorious sight. The South Pole will be tilted towards us by about 10.6 degrees, and as it's Spring in the S Hemisphere of Mars, the S. Polar cap will be gradually shrinking: watch from early July to the end of August to see it decrease in size.
   Note that brilliant Mars at opposition (mag -2.8), will lie just 6 degrees to the South of the Moon during the ecklipse, although it won't rise as seen from most of Ireland until totality is over. But if you are on holiday further South East of Ireland (e.g. S. France, E Spain, Italy, and beyond), you'll see brilliant red Mars below a ruddy eclipsed Moon!
5. ARMAGH PLANETARIUM; 50 years of sci-fi.  Saturday and Sunday, 28 and 29 July. See for dedtails
6. Giant Dust Storm on Mars still surrounds planet.
7. 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: 
8. SOLAR ECLIPSE CONFERENCE, August 2-5, 2018. We are happy to announce that it's now possible to register for the Solar Eclipse Conference 2018 which will take place from August 2nd to 5th in Genk (Belgium)!
Those who decide now can enjoy an early bird discount (€ 190,- instead of € 220,- for the full congress). Day tickets are also available (€ 75,00 per day).
   We've also got 5 partner hotels. Book your stay by clicking on the link on our website and receive the special SEC2018 rate.
   To view the lecture schedule or to purchase tickets, please visit our web site: <>.
9. IAA Perseid BBQ and Observing Evening, 11 August, Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh, Co Down.
10. Skelligs Star Party 2018, 12-13 August Ballinskelligs, co Kerry.
11. 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! 

12. Schrodinger Commemmoration, Sep 5-6, National Concert Hall, Dublin: As part of the Schrodinger 75 commemorations running through 2018, a lecture series updating his famous "What is Life?" will be held on Sep 5-6. Entitled "The Future of Biology", this promises to be a very special event. See or email  And check for other events to mark this 75th anniversary.

13. Astrocamp, 8-11 September, Brecon Beacons, S. Wales. See astrocamp

14. Archaeology Ireland:  Pathways to the Cosmos event, Dublin Castle, on September 15th.  UPDATE:  Pathways to the Cosmos is very nearly booked out. This major European conference on Archaeoastronomy will probably be booked out quickly, so book now if you want to attend. There are several speakers from Ireland.  You can access details here:
15. NEW EVENT: METEOR CONFERENCE, Dunsink, 15 September
NEMETODE and DIAS are organising a Meteor Workshop on Saturday 15th September at Dunsink Observatory. Entry is free. Talks will include the following subjects:
Meteor Workshop (hardware and software) - William Stewart (BAA) and Alex Pratt (BAA)
Meteor Showers for 2018 / 2019 - Michael O'Connell (IFAS)
BRAMS and Radio Meteor Zoo - Cis Verbeeck (IMO) (via video link)
Asteroid Occultations - Alex Pratt (BAA)
More talks will be announced shortly.
Further details will be posted on the IFAS website at the following link:
(Pity about the clash of dates with the item above)
16. The EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS, 15 – 19 Sep, is part of the Science with and for and Society activities managed by the Directorate-General for Research of the European Commission. You can find out more about Science with and for and Society via the web site, which also contains a page on the Contest for Young Scientists.
The European Union Contest for Young Scientists was set up at 1989 to promote the ideals of co-operation and interchange between young scientists. The Contest is the annual showcase of the best of European student scientific achievement.
EUCYS gives students the opportunity to compete with the best of their contemporaries at European level. The young scientists also have the chance to meet others with similar abilities and interests and some of the most prominent scientists in Europe. In this way, the Commission seeks to strengthen the efforts made in each participating country to attract young people to careers in science and technology.

17. The professional astronomy conference European Planetary Science Congress 2018 (EPSC) will be held from September 16 to September 21, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. This yearly conference gives an inspiring insight of the latest discoveries and the current status of Solar System astronomy and planetary science and welcomes the participation of amateur astronomers.
In particular the AM1 session "Professional-amateur collaborations in small bodies, terrestrial, giant and exo planets studies" and the AM2 session "Juno Ground-Based Support from Amateurs" are organized by amateur astronomers together with professionals and are open to presentations by amateurs. We invite you to actively participate to these sessions by contributing a paper (fill in the abstract submission form in the  "Amateur Astronomy" program group, deadline May 16th, 2018) and/or to exchange views and ideas with other amateur and professional astronomers. Contributions will be oral talks and poster contributions. The language at the meeting will be English for all presentations.
Please note that this year EUROPLANET-2020 will provide budget to support amateurs from European countries. This budget will be allocated to in priority to active contributors (with oral or poster contributions, selected considering their scientific value and promoting diversity of participants from different countries). Depending on the budget left, amateurs only attending to the conference could also be (partially) funded (if you are interested, please let me know).
Please feel free to circulate this message to all those who might be interested in the event. Looking forward your contribution or participation, Marc Delcroix and Ricardo Hueso, SOC members of EPSC2018 AM program
18.  Special showing of 2001 A Space Odyessey, with Keir Dullea in Q&A! The Odysssey cinema, Belfast. The Odyssey are showing a special screening of 2001 on Thurs 27th September with a Q&A session with Keir Dullea afterwards. Tickets are £12 (includes drinks reception ???).
I was told at the Odyssey that Keir Dullea will be there in person (not skype) to answer any questions etc. They also confirmed this on their Facebook page. (From Tony Kempston – thanks)
19. Space Generation Congress (SGC): 27-29 September 2018: Bremen, Germany  
More Information: 

20. International Astronautical Congress. 1 – 5 October 2018.  Bremen, Germany 
More Information:
21. World Space Week 2018: 4-10 October 2018: 
22. Junior Cycle Conference for Teachers; BCO - Teaching Earth and Space in the Junior Cycle
Practical workshops, inspirational speakers on space and panel discussions supporting the Earth and Space Strand. Join us from 9:15am - 5pm on Saturday 6th October 2018 at Birr Castle and Science Centre, Birr, Co. Offaly. Book through Eventbrite. Further details and booking here:

23.  International Observe the Moon Night: 20 October 2018:  
24: Mayo Dark Sky Festival, 2-4 November FACEBOOK:
25. 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]
26. Starmus V — Star-studded Lineup for 2019  
Created by Garik Israelian, a researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), the Starmus Festival is a combination of science, art and music that has featured presentations from astronauts, cosmonauts, Nobel Prize winners and other prominent figures from science, culture, the arts and music. Now celebrating its fifth year, and timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings, Starmus V will take place in Bern, Switzerland, from 24 to 29 June 2019. The IAU is a partner organisation of Starmus and among the confirmed speakers will be IAU Secretary General, Piero Benvenuti, and IAU President-elect, Ewine van Dishoeck.  IAU announcement: 
27. 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.
ARCHAEOASTRONOMY This site may not have any astronomical function, but as it is so close to Newgrange and Knowth, it is worth noting.
CALET on the ISS measures very high energy cosmic ray spectrum
Mini satellite to study Milky Way's halo.
Meteorite recovered from USA Marine Reserve
Detecting long orbital period planets in a short time scale
'Twin' giant exoplanet has a very different origin
Jupiter's equator marked by magnetic ribbon
SPACE That's not really a true spaceport, as you could do that from any airport. And it's for launches only for a very restricted class of orbits.
How the Parker Solar Probe will study the Sun at close range without melting
TELESCOPES, INSTRUMENTS, TECHNIQUES Annie Maunder was from Strabane, and was educated at Victoria College, Belfast.
Weighing stars with a gravitational lens
UFOs, Aliens, Conspiracy Theories, etc.
28. 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 .
The Irish Astronomical Association is registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC 105858
DISCLAIMER: Any views expressed herein are mine, and do not necessarily represent those of the IAA.
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley