1. Saturn just past Opposition.
The most beautiful planet in the sky, and probably the most beautiful of all celestial sights, it's very low down, in Sagittarius, making seeing conditions poor. But it has now passed its most southerly point, and each successive year for the next 13 years will see it climb higher in our sky. We can watch as faster moving Jupiter gradually catches up with it, leading to a VERY close conjunction on 2020 Dec 21.
I never tire of having a look in any telescope. The rings are still very wide open, and this helps to make the planet a bit brighter than its average magnitude. . It's about magnitude 0.1, comparable to Arcturus, Capella or Vega, but will appear fainter as it's so low down. Look for the main gap in the Rings, the Cassini Division, and in a good telescope with steady seeing you may spot the Encke Division in the outer ring.
Also look for the satellites: Titan is the biggest and brightest, and 2nd biggest in the SS, and is visible in any telescope, and is visible even in good binocs when at elongation from Saturn. Look on Aug 3, 11/12, 19 and 27. Rhea can be spotted in even a 60mm refractor when well placed. Dione and Tethys are fainter and closer in, and the latter can be a challenge in most amateur telescopes at present.
2. Perseids. One of the best annual meteors showers, the Perseids will peak on the night of 12-13 August. Unfortunately the bright moon will spoil the show then, but the shower is already under way, building up activity gradually towards maximum. So observations in the days leading up to maximum will be just as fruitful, if you wait until the Moon is out of the way. Observe any time from the onset of darkness, but best conditions will be after moonset. The radiant is not far from the famous and beautiful Double Cluster in Perseus, about halfway between Perseus and Cassiopeia.
3. ISS: The ISS will commence another series of morning passes on 31 August. Details of both ISS and Starlink for your own location, and lots more info on space and astronomy, on www.heavens-above.com.
If you want to check for transits of the ISS across the Sun or the Moon which occur somewhere near you, visit http://transit-finder.com
4. For Sale: Pulsar Telescope Dome, with full control equipment.
The dome is around 5 years old in perfect condition and is currently fully dismantled and available for collection. The dome comes complete with the associated equipment;
· Pulsar Observatory 2.2m full height observatory dome
· Shutter drive kit (including solar panel module plus charger and 12V battery)
· Dome Rotation Drive Kit
· Shelyak Dome tracker kit
· Dome security clamps
· Rubber flooring kit
Total Price NEW – c £6,500; Price as available £3,500
Contact Dr Andy McCrea of North Down Telescopes, email firstname.lastname@example.org, mob 07799434030
5. Birr Theatre & Arts Centre; Starcamp Summer Camps. Mon 12 – Fri 16 August
To Book- 0214377900, www.starcamp.ie
6. Skellig Star Party, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry, Aug 24 – 25. see www.skelligstarparty.com
7. INAM – 4-6th Sept https://armaghobservatoryplanetarium.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173596564
The Irish National Astronomy Meeting (INAM) 2019 will be held at the Armagh Observatory & Planetarium (AOP), Armagh, Northern Ireland, on September 4-6.
With astronomy becoming the domain of large international collaborations and of scientific consortia behind new instruments, telescopes and space missions, this INAM meeting will be an opportunity for Irish researchers to showcase projects carried out in partnership with international collaborators.
Visit https://www.inam2019.com/ for more details.
Public talk and premier of "Unseen Universe" Dome show. 6:30pm: 4. Sep. Doors Open
7:00pm: Public talk by Professor Garrett Cotter of Oxford University - "Exploring the Universe at the Highest Energies".
8:00pm: "Unseen Universe" Fulldome show. Produced by former Planetarium Director Terrence Murtagh in which the Leviathan Telescope at Birr features prominently, and finishes with the first image ever taken of a Black Hole. Unseen Universe makes what was once thought to be unseeable, seeable. https://armaghobservatoryplanetarium.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173596570
PLUS: BAA Observatory Tour and Dome Showhttps://armaghobservatoryplanetarium.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173592278Special Sunday opening for an Observatory Tour and Dome show as part of the BAA meeting on 8th September.Learn more about astronomy on a private guided tour of our Observatory building and telescopes. Let us guide you around the history and heritage of our famous Observatory and experience our world and beyond in a Digital Dome Theatre Show at the Planetarium.. Highlights include a behind the scenes access to the historic Armagh telescopes, including the 1795 Troughton and 1885 Grubb equatorial telescopes, as well as learning about the current science conducted at the Observatory. This tour will be conducted by the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium Director, Prof. Michael Burton. While we make every effort to accommodate wheel chair users and others with mobility issues, by virtue of the nature of the building, the telescopes are accessed by steep narrow stairs. The tour includes access to our grounds outside so we recommend suitable footwear. The cost for the Sunday tour is £15.00 per person. Tour starts at 10.30am sharp from the Armagh Planetarium Main Building.
8. Asteroid flyby, 9 September
https://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-2006-qv89-strike-earth-september-2019?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=2e143f4e51-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-2e143f4e51-394571661 Note that I didn't headline this "near-miss", or "close flyby". A distance of nearly 7 million km is not close, unless we're talking about something the size of Vesta, and then only in relative terms! This one is only about 30-40km in diameter. And whatever the actual statistics say, in practice the collision risk from asteroid 2006 QV89, is zero, because the orbital calculations could be slightly in error, but not by 7 million km! And even if some unknown external factor was to alter its orbit significantly, the chances that it would change EXACTLY in our direction, and by EXACTLY the right amount to hit a target only 12,800 km in diameter, are negligible. So it will be of interest, but the risk is zero.
9. IRELAND TO NAME EXOPLANET!
As part of the International Astronomical Union's 100 year Anniversary celebrations, Ireland will get to name an exoplanet!
Within the framework of its 100th anniversary commemorations, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organising the IAU100 NameExoWorlds global competition that allows any country in the world to give a popular name to a selected exoplanet and its host star. Over 70 countries have already signed up to organise national campaigns that will provide the public with an opportunity to vote. The aim of this initiative is to create awareness of our place in the Universe and to reflect on how the Earth would potentially be perceived by a civilisation on another planet.
The public competition opened in mid-July, and will close during World Space Week in October.
[My initial reaction – as the star is in Canes Venatici, home to M51, the Whirlpool Nebula, famously drawn by the third Earl of Rosse as the first spiral galaxy to have its shape and structure identified, how about naming them "Rosse" and "Birr"?]
10. Centenary of IAU in 2019: IAU100: Uniting our World to Explore the Universe
In 2019, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) celebrates 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.
IAU100 Celebrations around the World for details for your own country, check the link below.. Meet the IAU100 National Committees and learn more about the people who are here to support you during the 2019 celebrations. For the UK, it's Prof Robert Walsh, originally from Belfast, but now at U of Central Lancs (who gave a great talk to the IAA in Belfast some years ago); and for ROI it's the indefatigable Clair McSweeney from BCO in Cork. See https://www.sciencespace.ie/celebrating-100-years-of-the-international-astronomical-union-ireland/
Read more: https://www.iau-100.org/national-committees
11. Mayo Dark Sky Festival, 1- 3 November. Newport, Co Mayo.
Latest news - Astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk will speak at this year's festival, and we are delighted to confirm that Professor Mark McCaughrean will also be joining the line-up.
Details at www.mayodarkskyfestival.ie
It will be followed by -
12. European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky Mulranny, Co Mayo, 3 - 5 Nov.
The14th European Symposium for the Protection of the Night Sky is to be held in Mulranny, County Mayo, from 3rd to 5th November 2019 (immediately following the Mayo Dark Sky Festival weekend). Please share the dates and details on this event and would love to see you there.
In particularly we are looking to promote the call for abstracts and would be grateful if you can help us share this international event for Dark Sky Ireland with colleagues in environmental /astronomy & scientific/ dark sky networks. This event will be sanctioned by the International Dark Sky Association.
Information is available on our website www.mayodarkskyfestival.ie/symposium and we will be updating this with more announcements, news and updates on the event as they happen.
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.
40 billion solar masses - biggest SMBH direct measurement https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/astronomers-just-found-an-absolutely-gargantuan-black-hole-the-mass-of-40-billion-suns/ar-AAFsRYQ?ocid=spartandhp and
Very early giant galaxies reveal secrets https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7334223/A-long-time-ago-galaxy-far-far-away.html and
Long dead planets can still be detected. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190806101602.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29
https://www.livescience.com/66116-fast-radio-bursts-australia-artificial-intelligence.html?utm_source=ls-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190808-ls (Warfare between Type 2 or Type 3 Kardashian civilisations? Just joking – there wouldn't be so many of them – we hope! Also, if they're so far away, they would be happening at quite an early stage in the history of the universe – probably too early fort such civilisations to have developed. But on the other hand, if we're in a multiverse…. !)
Hot winds near Black Hole https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190807112937.htm
Quasars may go through a brief phase when they're red https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190807092339.htm
New radio receiver measures distances to remote objects and analyses cosmic clouds https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190805112203.htm
https://www.livescience.com/66113-supergravity-discovery-breakthrough-prize.html?utm_source=ls-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190807-ls This is mind-bending stuff, but fascinating and important; it's worth the effort to try and get a handle on it!
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190807190816.htm Curiouser and curiouser, said Alice (not the one on New horizons!). But if the Higgs Boson is such a scalar particle, how come it's 'ordinary matter' while the others are 'Dark Matter'? Or does DM just consist of other much more massive Big Brothers of the Higgs? And see also https://newatlas.com/dark-fluid-theory-matter-energy/57540/
EARTH & MOON
Watch the video showing the discovery of over 4,000 exoplanets. Note the dense patch that develops at the top left near the end as Kepler did its stuff. https://earthsky.org/space/time-lapse-video-map-exoplanets-2019?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=d0f407ae2b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-d0f407ae2b-394571661
Beautiful image! https://newatlas.com/hubble-space-telescope-jupiter-image/60968/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=e9d7506b9d-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-e9d7506b9d-92786061 It's interesting that the STZ is by far the brightest zone on the disc.
Tardigrades are on the Moon! https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/techandscience/tardigrades-the-toughest-animals-on-earth-have-crash-landed-on-the-moon/ar-AAFrOPp?ocid=spartandhp "That would have been a hard landing for humans, but no problem at all for us tardigrades"!
I wonder what James Watt would make of this? https://newatlas.com/steam-power-cubesat-control/60977/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=e9d7506b9d-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-e9d7506b9d-92786061
https://spaceweatherarchive.com/2019/08/09/a-new-source-of-space-radiation/ This would also affect astronauts on the Moon, or journeying to and from it, and as they're closer to the source they'd be even more affected than Marstronauts!
Telescopes, Equipment, etc.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/08/space-telescope-would-turn-earth-giant-magnifying-lens?utm_campaign=news_daily_2019-08-06&et_rid=415711678&et_cid=2935236 An interesting idea. But another factor is that the Earth is an oblate spheroid, not a sphere, so the atmosphere will not be a perfect sphere either.
And it's constantly moving as it orbits the Sun, so the telescope would have to move to exactly compensate for that. However, the rate of the Earth's motion is variable, although predictable.
The Earth is also rotating every 24h, bringing areas of different density to the limb at different times, which would vary the density of the atmosphere above them.
And then there are aurorae, and high altitude sprites!
The position of the telescope would also be affected by the motion of the Moon round the Earth, as well as by the pull of other planets, mainly Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
It could be problematic to operate it to any degree of accuracy.
https://newatlas.com/spherical-aberration-optical-lens-solution/60937/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=d437ddb964-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-d437ddb964-92786061 I just LOVE that equation! I wonder can one get a t-shirt with that on it?
A new era for space optics – wait for it; the equivalent of a 50m mirror in space! https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190805112204.htm
14. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION. This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/iaamembership.doc
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 www.irishastro.org .
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.