Saturday, 9 February 2019

Lecture, Observing, Comet, ISS, Moon at BCO, Women in astronomy, Mercury, NISF

Hi all,


(NB: as I'll be away, there won't be any more bulletins until about Feb 26, so save this one for information on events until then!)


1. IAA Lecture, Wed 20 February

Women in Astronomy: from the Maunder Mininum, to Leavitt and Hubble's expanding Universe", by Dr Jorick Vink, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium


I will start with a discussion about the role of the Maunder Minumum, a period 300 years ago when the Sun underwent a phase during which Sunspots were hardly seen at all. This observation is of great importance for understanding not only the Sun and the Stars, but also the climate on Earth.

I will subsequently discuss the role of stellar variability for the determination of distances to far-away galaxies. Here I will discuss the important role played by Henrietta Leavitt. Thanks to her work, and

subsequent studies by Hubble & others on galaxy redshifts, we now know we live in a huge, expanding Universe that started 13.7 Billion years ago with a Big Bang. I will discuss the Genesis of the First Massive Stars in this Exciting Cosmos.

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.


2. IAA Observing Evenings, Delamont Country Park, Killinchy, Co Down

Friday 8 or Saturday 9 February. Check the IAA website at 6.00 each evening to see if the event is going ahead, taking account of the weather. If it's cancelled on the Friday evening, we try again on the Saturday, if it's clear then.


3. NEW. Comet Iwamoto. Some unconfirmed reports put this comet at mag 6, but others have it fainter than that. Details of the position for any time and date are on


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

If you want to check for transits of the ISS across the Sun or the Moon which occur somewhere near you, visit


5. NEW Feb 11 First Quarter Moon Observing at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory

On Monday 11th February, 2019 CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory will be hosting an observing session. Have you ever wanted to see what the Moon looks like through a telescope? Well this is your chance! Join us at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory where we'll be checking out our nearest celestial neighbour with FREE telescope viewing sessions. Observing, as always, is weather dependent. Details here:


6,  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: 


7. NEW. Look out for Mercury from 14 Feb. The innermost planet will be well placed for viewing throughout the second half of February, creeping out from the Sun in the Western evening twilight. Start looking about 6 p.m., then gradually earlier on successive evenings as the days lengthen. It's brightest at first, then slowly gets fainter as it moves out from the Sun. and the percentage of illuminated disc decreases. This more than offsets the increase in apparent size of the disc, which is in any case very small – you'll need a telescope to see the phase.

   The following information is for 2-day intervals from 14 Feb. Magnitude; Elongation from Sun in degrees; Apparent diameter in arcsecs; Phase (% of visible disc illuminated.

Feb 14: -1.2; 12º; 5.4"; 89%

16: -1.1; 13.5º; 5.6"; 86%

18: -1.1; 15º; 5.8"; 80%

20: -1.0; 16º; 6.1"; 74%

22: -0.8; 17º; 6.4"; 67%

24: -0.7; 18º; 6.8"; 58%

26: -0.4; 18º; 7.2"; 50%

28: -0.1; 18º; 7.6"; 40%


8. NI Science Festival, February 14 – 24. Various events in various locations throughout N.I. including several at Armagh Planetarium. See

   The programme includes "Cosmic Cuilcagh" at the Marble Arch Caves Visitors Centre on Feb 22, which will be delivered by several members of the IAA. This is a superb dark sky location, so if there are clear skies the viewing will be superb.


9. NEW Saturday 16 February. Lecture on notable Irish female astronomer, Annie Maunder, in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. See


10. NEW. March 7. Space Careers Roadshow at Athlone Institute of Technology

 For Engineers Week 2019, Athlone Institute of Technology will host a Space Career Roadshow in conjunction with Science Foundation IrelandESERO Ireland and CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory. These roadshows will provide students with an excellent opportunity to engage with space industry professionals, and third level institutions, so that they can get a taste of the exciting opportunities that a STEM career in Space has to offer.

Audience – Transition Year, 5th and 6th year students. Second level teachers.Admission – Free (By invitation). Further information here:


11. 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: 


12. Turn on the Night Educational Kit
The IAU100 Global Project Dark Skies for All project aims to raise awareness of the need to preserve quiet, dark skies and claim the right for future generations to continue to access our true night skies. The IAU100 is issuing a call for proposals to receive the "Turn on the Night" educational kit and encourages educators, astronomy professionals, and enthusiasts around the world to apply.
Throughout the IAU100 Global Program, about 200 educators around the world will be able to have this kit at production cost. Around 50 additional kits will be attributed and distributed for free by the IAU100 Secretariat to those who cannot afford the production cost. To apply for these IAU100 special conditions, please submit the completed application by 1 March 2019.
   More information here: 


13. Call for Participation in the Open Astronomy Schools Project
The Open Astronomy Schools project will build teachers' capacity to deal with scientific topics and teaching techniques by organising teacher training worldwide that enables the development of scientific literacy and acquisition of modern teaching skills. The call for proposals is targeted at providing seed funding (up to 500 Euros) and basic support to stimulate teacher training workshops in developing regions. This funding to support the OAS activities that can be used to produce materials to distribute to workshop participants or travel/subsistence support for teachers to attend the workshop.
   The call for proposals will be open until the end of the IAU100 celebrations. Proposals requesting funds have to be submitted by 28 February 2019 at 11:00 pm UTC. All applicants requesting financial support will receive feedback regarding the decision in March 2019.
   Find more information here:
Official Website:


14. COSMOS 2019. 5-7 April, Athlone. More  details later


15. IAU100 Amateur Astronomy Day Event on 13 April 2019 in Brussels
On Saturday 13 April 2019 at the Palace of the Academies in Brussels, Belgium, the International Astronomical Union will organise its first event for amateur astronomers. With an inspirational full-day event that will include NASA astronaut John Grunsfeld, renowned scientists involved in hot topics in astronomy and presentations from the amateur astronomical community. With this event, the IAU aims to further build the relationship between amateur astronomers, their organizations and the IAU. The IAU100 Secretariat hereby invites amateur astronomers to engage with the event by attending and/or sharing their work as an amateur astronomer.
You can find more information here: 


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


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.



Understanding organisation of life on planetary scale



Milky Way is warped and

How stars form

ZTF identifies 1000 new objects and phenomena in night sky



Space magnet homes in on clue to Dark Matter



Open access satellite data on Earth's night lights



Collision between planets in Kepler 107



M31 Andromeda Galaxy, zoomable image from HST – you'll blow your mind! Just keep zooming in, Do it for both the extreme outer edges, and the inner core….

And then compare it with our smaller sister, M33 in Triangulum

Read the background here.



Dynamic atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune



New power for cubesats

New technology will help cubesats



New fundamental constant for Sun


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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