Friday, 7 June 2019

Solarfest, IAA BBQ, New books, Your name to Mars, UFOs, Ireland to name Exoplanet, NLCs, more

Hi all,


1. Solarfest. Saturday 8th June 2019, Dunsink Observatory, Dublin.
FREE Entry. Tickets not required. Gates open at 10:30am.
10:30 Registration
10:50 Welcome Address
11:00 Brian MacGabhann (GAC & RHS) 'Apollo 11'
11:45 Paul Evans (IAA & IFAS) 'Eclipses and Transits, A Personal Account'
12:30 David Malone (DIAS) 'Clocks of Dunsink Observatory'
12:50 Observatory Tour / Solar Observing / Bring Your Own Picnic (Tea/Coffee provided)
14:15 Donna Rodgers-Lee (TCD) 'Disks and Planets around Stars like the Sun'
15:00 Joe Mc Cauley (TCD) 'The Callisto Network for Observing the Sun in Radio Waves'
15:45 Sam Green (DIAS) 'The Bubble Nebula'
16:30 Q&A Session – All Speakers
16:45 Conference Close


2.  IAA BBQ. 15 June, Delamont Country Park, 3.00 p.m.

This is the venue where we have most of our observing nights. It's signposted on the main A22, between Killinchy and Downpatrick, adjoining Strangford Lough.

  Usual format - we provide the cooking facilities (but brigng your own if you wish). You bring your own consumables, eating accessories etc. There are plenty of picnic tables at the site.

   Solar observing if clear, or you can walk to the Millennium Stone, or to the lough shore etc.

Hope to see lots of you there!


3. NEW.   Oor Big Braw Cosmos.

This book, by Prof John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, may be of interest. The book is just out - see

For early purchases I am offering signed copies at £20 (£5 below the Retail price ) + PP where needed. – contact him via his website.


4. NEW: New book on Apollo missions by Dublin author

(Per Brian Harvey) Returning to the moon after Apollo - will it be another fifty years? by Pat Norris, due for publication in July, the anniversary of the moon landing.  

Pat Norris is a graduate of Dublin University (Trinity College).  During the Apollo programme, he worked for TRW and was one of those responsible for Apollo guidance to and from the moon.  He subsequently worked in Britain (e.g. Logica) and is now a speaker and writer on spaceflight.

SYNOPSIS Returning to the moon after Apollo - will it be another fifty years? by Pat Norris

July 2019 marks 50 years since Neil Armstrong took his famous first steps on the surface of the Moon. As people around the world celebrate the anniversary of this great American achievement, they might wonder why there have been no further human missions to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. This book analyses why the Apollo missions were possible while the equivalent program of the Soviet Union failed.  The question of why we haven't sent humans back to the Moon is explored by drawing on the American and Soviet experiences. The book then looks critically at today's programs and current plans for sending humans to the Moon, including those of NASA and the two American billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, as well as China.  The author draws on his 50 years' experience in the space industry including his involvement in the Apollo 8–13 missions to provide an exciting technical and historical perspective on the first race to the Moon and the one now underway.


5. NEW. Send your name to Mars: (Per Derek Heatly) has link to sending your name-free!-on the next Mars rover, it's 2020


6.  NEW. UFOs: The latest analysis:

This is a serious analysis by trained independent scientists



As part of the International Astronomical Union's 100 year Anniversary celebrations, Ireland will get to name an exoplanet!

 IAU100 NameExoWorlds gives every country in the world the opportunity to name an exoplanet and its host star. Ireland has been assigned the honour of giving a popular name to HAT-P-36, an exoplanet 1.8 times Jupiter's mass, in Canes Venatici. The planet's host star is comparable in age and mass to our Sun.

   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 will open in mid-July, and close during World Space Week in October. More details later.

[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"?]


8. NLCs. The season for seeing these ethereal silvery-blue high altitude Noctilucent, or 'night-shining' clouds starts about now. Look low down in the North within a period of an hour or so on either side of local midnight, ignoring BST. Very roughly, within N.I, that's from about 00.30 to about 02.30 BST. When all other clouds are in shadow because the Sun is so far below the local horizon, these very high altitude clouds, thought to be caused by meteoric dust can sometimes be seen.



A NOAA/NASA co-chaired international panel – charged with forecasting the upcoming 11-year solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25 – released a preliminary forecast on April 5, 2019. The consensus is that Cycle 25 will be similar in size to the current cycle, Cycle 24; in other words, it's likely to be weak. These solar experts said they expect solar minimum – the period when the sun is least active – no earlier than July 2019 and no later than September 2020. They expect sunspot maximum to occur no earlier than the year 2023 and no later than 2026, with a minimum peak sunspot number of 95 and a maximum of 130. That's in contrast to the average number of sunspots, which typically ranges from 140 to 220 sunspots per solar cycle.

   We expect Solar Cycle 25 will be very similar to Cycle 24: another fairly weak cycle, preceded by a long, deep minimum. The expectation that Cycle 25 will be comparable in size to Cycle 24 means that the steady decline in solar cycle amplitude, seen from cycles 21-24, has come to an end and that there is no indication that we are currently approaching a Maunder-type minimum.


10. The ISS, and STARLINK.  A new series of ISS passes will begin in July.

   Meanwhile, the 'train' of Starlink satellites is currently visible, reaching a maximum of about 3rd magnitude.

Details of both ISS and Starlink 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


11. 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.
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. European Week of Astronomy and Space Science
Date: 24 – 28 June 2019; Location: Lyon, France. More information:


13. Starmus 24 – 29 June — 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: 


14. Asteroid Day, 30 June


15. Portballintrae Apollo celebrations: 6 & 7 july. More details later.


16. Apollo 11 Remembered, 18 July, Bangor Library. Public talk by Paul Evans, IAA. More details later.


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


18. Moon on the Mall, Armagh; 20 & 21 July. Part of AOP's celebrations of 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.


19. 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!


20. Apollo 11; 50th Anniversary. Armagh Observatory and Planetarium will be holding a suite of events through July and August to celebrate this event. More details soon.


21. 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.



This is the worst example of dumbing down and anthropomorphism I have seen in my entire life. Shame on the author - have some respect for your readers!.

   Disc of cool gas orbits MW's SMBH

   Subaru Telescope captures 1800 supernovae!

   Galaxies are cosmic Cauldrons.



Searching for the Theory of Everything. If it really was the 'thoughts of God' that were responsible for the universe, we obviously need an updated version of Genesis. Any chance You could provide one for us? – just a posting on Wikipedia would do nicely…..

   Looking for a Heavy Higgs -



Sobering stuff. And reported by the DM too! Misleading headline. They are very rarely, if ever, 'flashes' – they last for periods of at least minutes.

CO2 levels reach record high in May. this is the most disturbing part of the findings "The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases every year, and the rate of increase is accelerating. The early years at Mauna Loa saw annual increases averaging about 0.7 ppm per year, increasing to about 1.6 ppm per year in the 1980s and 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s. The growth rate rose to 2.2 ppm per year during the last decade. There is abundant and conclusive evidence that the acceleration is caused by increased emissions"

   Building blocks of Planet Earth Ignore the ridiculous illustration showing meteorites ablaze streaking through empty space! The caption may say 'in our atmosphere', but that's not what's shown.

   Formation of Moon brought water to Earth



   First exoplanets, then exomoons, now 3 exocomets!

   18 Earth-sized exoplanets found.



Life on Mars may look like Fettucine!  Pasta La Vista!

Exomoons may host E-T life





LP is bad for amphibians



Curiosity finds clay on Mars, confirming the planet's watery past

   Asteroid close flyby, nice video

   Help NASA decide where to land on Bennu

   Martian mineral probably volcanic in origin

   Triton fosters unlikely icy union

   Huge ice discovery beneath Martian pole


SPACE They say that raising their orbits will reduce their brightness – but it will also mean that they will be reflecting sunlight for longer each night. It's definitely going to be a problem.

Putting together the giant SLS  Unbelievable photo of Full Moon over the sea. Literally unbelievable, as the Moon is closer than the clouds! Also it's missing the effects of both atmospheric refraction which would flatten the disc, and atmospheric absorption which would make the bottom part a lot dimmer than the top.  2/10 as a fake.

   105 mini-sats launched at once! We soon won't be able to get into space without bumping into one of these mini-sats!

   ESA goes for re-usable rocket option

   China launches rocket from the sea



Solving the mystery of the Sun's superheated corona


Telescopes, Instruments, techniques.


UFOS – the truth about the Pentagon revelations.


22. 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