Sunday, 14 October 2018

Doomsday superflare, Einstein in schools, First Man, Mars talk, 100 hours of astronomy, Big Planet X?, Meteor workshop videos, Apollo 8, Images of Starlight

Hi all,
1. IAA Public Lecture: "Probability of a Doomsday Solar Superflare: Fact or Fiction?"  17 October, 19.30 By Prof Gerry Doyle, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.
   One of the popular-level lectures I occasionally give is entitled "Our Sun: Friend or Foe?". The latter option is based largely on the so-called Carrington Event, when a major solar superflare in the 19th century caused havoc to the then widely used telegraph system. If such a superflare were to strike Earth today, the consequences would be a thousand times worse. Prof Gerry Doyle, whom we are delighted to welcome back for another IAA lecture, is the head of solar research at Armagh Observatory, and an expert on the topic. This talk promises to be both timely and informative.
SYNOPSIS: The first part of the talk is on solar flares, how they occur, their energy, etc . Then I go into stellar flares and show data from the Kepler space telescope on flares from solar-like stars and discuss whether such super-flares could occur on the Sun. I include spot data over the past 300 yrs, what is happening now, predications for the next cycle, how a super-flare could occur on the Sun, plus observations from 900 yrs ago.
   Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB, 7.30pm
All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.
2. NEW The Einstein Schools Program is launched today to encourage talented youth around the world to learn and communicate about gravity in astronomy. As part of an international network, the schools will be able to share experiences, benefit of high-quality resources and access to astronomy professionals acting as mentors in your activities.
   The Einstein Schools Global Project connects schools worldwide to help them learn about the important role gravity plays in astronomy, including the study of black holes and other compact objects, orbits, the detection of gravity waves, and whether light can be affected by gravity. The project encourages students in a club, class, or classes to creatively learn about the latest advances in astronomy. 
   The project aims to reach schools in at least the 100 different countries that participate in the IAU100 celebrations. In the spirit of the IAU, the project emphasizes a creative worldwide collaboration among the participating schools. The aim is to increase student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) subjects, encourage a deeper interest in the role that gravity plays in our universe and provide access to observations of gravitationally important objects. 
   To become part of the Einstein Schools network, one should form a diverse team of students and teacher advisors who want to do creative work in communicating about gravity and astronomy. The team can include students from different grade levels and teachers from any discipline. The more diverse the team, the better. 
   Teams can use any form of communication, from storytelling to dance, from photography to poems. After the result is posted online, the Project Staff and other schools around the world will provide it with feedback. Professional astronomers and other mentors are available to help your continuing efforts if there is no local mentor available. Lead Teachers can register in this form to get notices and updates about the project and how to register your team.
   Einstein Schools will get the opportunity to collaborate with schools in Chile and Argentina who will observe the total solar eclipse in Chile and Argentina on 2 July 2019. Moreover, they can follow breaking astronomical news and events such as the collision of black holes or neutron stars at great distances. By providing access to curated, high-quality internet resources, the schools are given more means to reach the opted result.
For more information, please visit the Einstein Schools website.
Stephen Pompea, Einstein Schools Coordinator,
 Jorge Rivero, IAU100 International Coordinator,
3 .  "FIRST MAN" on general release from Fri 12 October. This film about Neil Armstrong and the first Apollo Moon landing, starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, directed by Damien Gazette, is well worth seeing.
This Belfast Geologists' meeting on Monday 15th October should be of interest to IAA members, all are welcome. It's in the Ulster Museum main lecture theatre at 7:30 pm.  Free Refreshments from 7 pm. (a voluntary donation for both the lecture and the refreshments would not go amiss)
MARS: THERE AND BACK AGAIN (IN 50 MINUTES), by Darren F. Mark; Professor of Isotope Geochronology & Director of Research, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre.
    This presentation will provide an overview of the geological evolution of Mars, our closest neighbour, and provide background about SUERCs involvement in planetary science research (as well as emerging opportunities).  The research ultimately aims to answer fundamental questions in planetary exploration: does life exist beyond Earth?  How did the Solar System evolve?  Through the use of a variety of geochronological and geochemical techniques we are moving closer to unlocking the secrets that Mars' geological record contains.  Through collaborations with colleagues at the European Space Agency, NASA and the UK Space Agency, SUERC is contributing to the development of profiles for future missions to the red planet.
5.  Participate in the 100 Hours of Astronomy Global Project
In 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will celebrate its 100th anniversary (IAU100) and to commemorate, we will organise a year-long celebration to increase 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.
   The 100 Hours of Astronomy will be the kick-off worldwide event of IAU100 and will be composed of a broad range of activities aimed at involving the public. 100 Hours of Astronomy will take place over four days and nights, from 10-13 January 2019, with amateur and professional astronomers, astronomy enthusiasts and the general public invited to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for the Universe. Hundreds of local events are being planned by science facilities and astronomy enthusiasts around the world, including telescope observing sessions, exhibitions, lectures, art projects, classroom projects, field trips, special shows and more. In many countries, there will be public lectures by specially selected speakers, experts in astronomy, keen to participate in this planet-wide venture.
   It is only a few months before the yearlong centennial celebration of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will take place. As a big kick-off event, the global project 100 Hours of Astronomy is organised to take place 10-13 January 2019. Everyone around the globe can participate in this joint effort to bring astronomy to the general public.
   Find more: 
6. More evidence for a big 'Planet X'
7. NEW. Some of the talks from the NEMETODE meteor workshop at Dunsink are you on YouTube:
8. NEW.  APOLLO 8 remembered. This is an excellent video tribute, just coming up to the 50th anniversary in December.   This flight will be the subject of our lecture on December 12.
9. NEW. Images of Starlight opens November 11
The second Images of Starlight exhibition will be held in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, for 3 weeks from November 11th. More details later.
10. NEW. IAA at Portballintrae, Stardome, Sat 27 Oct. more details of this public event next time.

11.  International Observe the Moon Night: 20 October 2018: . With all due respect to the organisers, this is a bad date, for the following reasons
   (1). It will be 85% illuminated, well past the optimum of around 50% (First Q). Very little of the spectacular FQ terminator detail will be visible.
   (2) The Moon will be quite low down in the sky for higher N. latitudes, such as UK/Ireland and the rest of N Europe. This results in poorer atmospheric seeing, and a reduced period of visibility.
   (3) Although the main focus is obviously on the Moon, an almost full moon makes the sky so bright that it's very bad for viewing other celestial treats which may be on view.
   (4) Autumn in the N. Hemisphere generally is the worst time of year for viewing the Moon, because of the angle of the ecliptic to the horizon. This may not be so much of a problem at the lower latitudes of the USA, but there are astronomers in other parts of the world too!
   (5) N. Hemisphere Spring is much better, as the waxing Moon is at a much higher altitude, and visible for longer each night.
   (6) If you think I'm biased against the S. Hemisphere, I'm not: firstly, there are very few people living in high S latitudes, where the March or April FQ Moon would be at a low angle for them. Only the S tip of S America would be affected, and it has a very low population. And in any case, many more people live in the N. Hemisphere.
   How about a campaign for a change of date to March? Next year, 16 March would be the best option for a Saturday: the moon will be 76% illuminated – more than ideal, but much better than the date chosen for this year!
12. ISS. The ISS will commence a new series of morning passes on 28 October. Details for your own location, and lots more info on space and astronomy, on
13. Armagh Observatory and Planetarium events
   TODDLER TAKEOVER TUESDAY, at the Planetarium, October 23. There will be plenty to do for little ones - stories, songs and arts and crafts (all with a Space theme of course!)  Next session: 23 October, Time: 1.15pm - 1.45pm, Price: £2 per child. Booking required.

   Halloween Half-Term

Mon 29 Oct - Fri 2 Nov 2018. Dome Theatre Show Programme: Open 10am-5pm
More show information and to book online:
Weather permitting we will be launching rockets and will have a super space-themed craft activity for the children. Spend your half-term with us!

   Murder Mystery at Armagh Observatory, Tuesday 30 October. Scandal, jealousy, anger and revenge are thick in the air and murder is just around the corner on Tuesday 30 October at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.

* If you fancy yourself as a bit of a sleuth and think you can solve our out of this world mystery, then join us and put your powers of deduction to the test.
* Session Times: 7pm & 9pm. Price: £25 per person. Duration: Approx 2.5hrs

* Light refreshments will be served 30mins before the event begins

* A Dome show and short tour of the Planetarium and Observatory are included

* Adult Only Event

* While we make every effort to accommodate wheelchair users and others with mobility issues, by virtue of the nature of the building, the Observatory is accessed by steep narrow stairs

14: Mayo Dark Sky Festival, 2-4 November  
* The latest speaker to be added to our programme is ÉANNA NÍ LAMHNA, renowned botanist and broadcaster, who will give a talk on Nocturnal Animals
* Childrens Workshop added to the line-up - The GREAT EGG-DROP CHALLENGE! (Children will work in teams to design and build a device that can keep a raw egg intact when dropped from a height)
* KTEC TELESCOPES will have a selection of telescopes and accessories on display at the festival and will be on hand to answer your questions
* Tickets go on sale online 30th AUGUST (we will send you the link on or before that date)
* Thanks to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), we will be running a FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE between the festival venues over the weekend of the festival
* CHILDREN UNDER 16 will be admitted FREE to all events
With lots more speakers and events to come, please do keep a close eye on our website for regular updates
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15. NEW: Advance Notice The Galway Astronomy Festival takes place on Saturday January 26th, 2019.
The festival will take place in our new venue, The Harbour Hotel, New Docks Road, Galway.
 We were very happy with last year's festival and hopefully this coming year's festival will be equally successful.
16. 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]
17. 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: 
18. 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.
Microquasar produces Cherenkov radiation
Slow death of massive star and birth of compact neutron star binary
New Oz telescope doubles number of known FRBs
Solving the cosmological lithium problem
Evidence for the first exomoon, which is the size of Neptune!
Ganymede shows evidence of slip-strike faulting
   The world's space launch sites. Note that only Polar Orbital launch sites are further from the equator than the UK/Ireland. That's because mid-latitudes are just not good for orbital launches, although they could be used for sub-orbital tourist 'pleasure hops' such as those being offered by Virgin, Space-X, etc. But local weather is also an issue, a factor on which we don't score too highly!
19. IAA subscriptions for the coming year were due on 1 September. A reminder was included with the latest issue of Stardust, which all members should have received.
20. 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

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