Saturday, 5 January 2019

Happy New Year

Hi all,



Firstly, Happy New Year to everyone. And apologies for not being able to wish you all Happy Xmas etc in time, and indeed for the long gap since my last bulletin. It's a long story, but basically because of changes in AOL I was no longer able to send multiple copies of my bulletin, so after a long period of struggle I changed to a new gmail account. Unfortunately even that will not allow me to send bulk emailings, but it won't tell me which addresses have received the last bulletin, and which have not!

   So, apologies if you have already received this one – although I have updated it slightly for this latest attempt, where I will try to send it in much smaller batches.

  So in the meantime I'll still be using both accounts, until I manage to get the new email sorted, and notify everyone of the change.

Please also note change of next lecture!




1. IAA New Year Party, 5 January – Book by 3 January.

The astrosocial event of the year will be held once again at McBrides in Comber, followed by the excellent film "Moonwalk One" and team quiz in the Tudor Private cinema nearby. You can book online at


2. IAA New Year Lecture and demo, 9 Jan: 'Everything you wanted to know about Telescopes'.. By Dr Andy McCrea (thanks to Andy for standing in at short notice). Andy needs no introduction: as proprietor of North Down Telescopes, for many years he has been supplying amateur and professional astronomers throughout Ireland with all sorts of astronomical equipment from a complete observatory down to an eyepiece or filter. He's also an accomplished astro-imager, with many excellent photos in Stardust and our exhibitions to his credit. If there's anything he doesn't know about telescopes, binoculars and astrophotography, it's not worth knowing!

   He has agreed to step in at short notice as another speaker had other last minute commitments. He'll bring along a selection of equipment, as well as telling you all you need to know.

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.


3. Venus, Jupiter and Mercury in the morning sky. Brilliant Venus is still easily visible in the morning sky, with fainter (but still bright) Jupiter lower down in the twilight, and Mercury fainter and lower still, and getting more difficult to see as it dips closer to the horizon. On 3-4 January the group is joined by a waning crescent Moon, providing a lovely photo opportunity. On Jan 3, the Moon lies close to Jupiter, the middle of the trio.


4. ISS. The ISS continues its series of morning passes until 10 January. Details for your own location, and lots more info on space and astronomy, on


5. New Horizon's flyby of Ultima Thule.

The Ultimate snowman! and


6. Earth at Perihelion on Jan 3d 5h 19m. The Sun has its largest apparent diameter as we see it, of 32' 32", on that date.


7. Quadrantid Meteors. This shower will peak on the night of 3-4 January. The Moon will be out of the way, giving dark sky if it's clear. The radiant is circumpolar from Ireland, so meteors can be seen any time after the sky gets dark, but best rates will be seen later in the night, as it gets higher up. It lies about halfway between the end of the handle of the Plough / Big Dipper and the head of Draco. In a dark sky with the radiant highest you could see rates of 60 per hour or more.


8.  "Under One Sky" Short Story Competition is Launched
We are pleased to invite astronomy students worldwide to take part in the IAU100 "Under One Sky" writing contest. The IAU values the engagement of young scientists in its activities and this competition is aimed at stimulating astronomy students' creativity and imagination by soliciting short written stories related to the themes 'Under One Sky' and 'Inspiring Stars'. Participants will get a chance to attend the IAU100 Flagship event in Brussels, Belgium. The IAU100 Under One Sky Event will take place at the Palace of the Academies in Brussels (Belgium) on 11-13 April 2019.

9. Armagh Planetarium: "Mystery of the Christmas Star" Dome Show now showing.

Join Armagh Planetarium this Christmas as we journey back more than 2000 years to Bethlehem, and seek to discover an explanation for the star the Wise Men followed to find the baby Jesus in "Mystery of the Christmas Star".  
   The Star of Bethlehem is an iconic astronomical event whose true origin remains unknown even today, in spite of years of speculation and research. The show will guide the viewer through some of these investigations and the most likely causes of this interesting cosmological object which was remarkable enough to make the wise men travel across the desert from Babylon to Bethlehem to see the newborn baby.  You will also explore possible dates for the birth of Christ and look at the historical records of significant astronomical events which occurred at this time.  This modern retelling of the Christmas story in our digital theatre will charm and captivate audiences.

The show runs until Saturday 5th January 2019.

Show Times:

Tuesday – Friday at 2pm

Saturday/School Holidays at 2pm and 4pm


10. Participate in the 100 Hours of Astronomy Global Project, Jan 10 - 13.
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.
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: 


11.  Bring the Above and Beyond Exhibition to your Community
The IAU100 Above and Beyond open-source exhibition features some of the most relevant and astonishing astronomical breakthroughs that have shaped science, technology, and culture throughout the last century. Now you can bring this exhibition to a venue near you in an affordable customised way that suits the needs of your community. The IAU100 Secretariat has just released three versions of the exhibition that can, in an affordable and customised way, support the enjoyment of the exhibition in your community:
Read more: 


12. The Galway Astronomy Festival takes place on Saturday January 26th, 2019. The festival will take place in the new venue, The Harbour Hotel, New Docks Road, Galway.

Last year's festival went well, and hopefully this coming year's festival will be equally successful.


13.  International Day of Women in Science / Women and Girls in Astronomy Day 11 Feb

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated each year on 11 February and was adopted by the United Nations to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. This Day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

The IAU100 strongly encourages the organization of activities throughout 2019, especially events organised around February as the perfect opportunity to celebrate girls and women in astronomy - by encouraging girls to consider careers in astronomy and by celebrating women astronomers. We encourage everyone to get involved with the Women and Girls in Astronomy Day by running events in your local community. This can include public talks, activities, workshops, and more.  

   Under the theme "Inclusive Astronomy" the IAU100 celebrations will organise a wide array of global activities and events throughout the year to promote inclusivity, equity, and diversity in astronomy. These events will kick off around 11 February 2019 with the celebration of the IAU100 Women and Girls in Astronomy Day within the framework of the United Nations' International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate girls and women in astronomy by encouraging girls to consider careers in astronomy and by celebrating women astronomers. We encourage everyone to get involved with the Women and Girls in Astronomy Day by running events in your local community.
Read more: 


14. 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.
 IAU100 Celebrations around the World  for details for your own country, check the link below.
With Astronomy events of all kinds, including national and cultural events, the IAU100 is engaging with different communities worldwide. 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
Read more: 


15.  European Week of Astronomy and Space Science
Date: 24 – 28 June 2019
Location: Lyon, France
More information:


16. NEW Another Tunguska event in June 2019?

No need to book a holiday to Siberia – if any sizeable objects do arrive at our planet, they could come at any time of day (or night?), and at any place on Earth. But if you want to maximise your chances of seeing anything, you should aim to be somewhere with the maximum amount of clear sky.


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.  IAU100: Moon Landing 50th Anniversary - Let's All Observe the Moon! 
Date: 20 July 2019  
Location: All around the world
More information: 

The Moon will be waning gibbous, and not rising until about midnight, but at least some spectacular formations will be visible for those prepared to stay up late!


19. Festival of Curiosity, Dublin. July 18 – 21, 2019


20. 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.



Calibrating distances of, and using, type 1A supernovae, to measure the expansion of the universe

Tangled magnetic fields power high energy cosmic accelerators Isn't it marvellously appropriate that this is in the constellation Fornax, the Furnace!

Mystery of coronae around SMBHs

Primordial gas cloud discovered, relic of Big Bang If a Black Hole changes into a White Hole emitting matter, what happens to the matter that was falling into the Black Hole at the time of transition? Surely it can't be both a Black Hole and a White Hole at the same time?- Unless each is in a different universe…. And my brain is beginning to hurt even thinking about it!

   Baby star emits stupendous hyperflare and

HST reveals distribution of Dark Matter

   Young star is undergoing growth spurt

   Physics beyond the Black Hole singularity

Young protostar has warped disc.

Astronomers find missing Dark Matter in early universe



Atomic clocks in space confirm relativity to 5 times better precision

 A thought-provoking article on the Ultimate Question

Our universe may be an expanding bubble in an extra dimension



Did supernova cause a mass extinction?

Tracking Earth's changing ice-sheets

NOAA report on Arctic ice

Threat from thawing permafrost

Humans reversing climate clock by 50 years

New prediction says no global cooling from next solar cycle

Why the world's fresh water supply is shrinking:

Extensive massive biosphere below Earth's surface

Fireball over Greenland shook seismic sensors


EXOLIFE The ice will freeze again behind the probe, so it's not going to be easy to get a signal back up to the surface, let alone back to Earth!

There may be DNA sugars in space.

Exoplanets with oxygen may not have life

Narrowing the search for exolife



Large population of potential young planets and

Where have all the Neptunes gone? (long time passing….)

Some SuperEarths have rubies and sapphires

How did these planets form so fast?



The stellar wreath

HST images comet Wirtanen


SETI SETI searchers should stop using the Drake Equation -



   Juno is halfway through its Jovian mission

Insight's first selfie

Water found on asteroid Bennu

Carbon-rich surface on Ceres

Insight Lander imaged from Mars orbiter

Image of comet forming a bow-shock

Water discovered in many asteroids

New explanation for Jupiter's changing appearance

Most distant Solar System object discovered

The importance of Ceres' carbon

Excellent radar images of NEA.

Where has the Martian methane gone?

Io in eclipse imaged by Juno, as illuminated by 'Europa-light' My Skymap program shows that Io did not go into eclipse until 13.17 on that date. Any comments?



Voyager 2 reaches interstellar space

Mice's immune system altered during spaceflight

Living on the Moon could be fatal

An interesting personal story about Sputnik 1

How plants grow in space

The coldest spot in the universe is on the ISS



Solar research provides info on Sun's past, present and future

   New prediction on next solar cycle

First image from inside the Sun's atmosphere



NASA's dream telescopes

Insight places seismometer on Martian surface




21. 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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