(NB, all times are summer time when in force, for convenience)
1. IAA lecture via Zoom & YouTube, 3 March, 7.30 p.m.: " Mars, the Search for Origins" .by Kevin Nolan.
Abstract: Mars shared an early history not dissimilar to Earth, and so the origin of life there is considered plausible. This talk looks at the history of our engagement with Mars; and examines the present day multi-decadal robotic exploration campaign to characterise the planet and what it has to reveal about life origins processes. The reasoning for exploring the planet are considered, and the resulting scientific priorities, mission and instrument characteristics outlined. Finally, key results to date are presented, what they reveal about the planet and how they will shape the next missions there.
Biography: Kevin Nolan is a lecturer in physics at TU Dublin, Tallaght campus. Having returned to academia from industry, Kevin is also working on a part-time PhD under Dr. Niall Smith, Head of Research at CIT. The project originally involved developing a software pipeline for the ESA Integral / OMC camera in association with Prof. Lorraine Hanlon, UCD; and now involves the data analysis of AGN photometric data derived from the mission. Kevin is also involved in science outreach and has been a Volunteer for The Planetary Society (founder Carl Sagan) since 1998. In 2008 Kevin had a popular science book published titled "Mars, a Cosmic Stepping Stone" examining the motivations for the robotic exploration of the planet Mars. Kevin also makes frequent contributions to Astronomy Ireland magazine, The Irish Time and RTE in the areas of space science and exploration.
Meeting ID: 850 7503 1888
2. The ISS continues its series of morning passes until 11 March.
Details of each pass for your own location, and lots more astronomy and space information, on www.heavens-above.com
3. Women and girls in Astronomy month: The IAU is promoting this awareness event from 11 Feb to 8 March.
4. REGULAR FORTNIGHTLY SPACE and ASTRONOMY WEBINAR – Next is March 9
NB: Note platform change. Since most people have been watching on YouTube, we are ceasing the presentation via Zoom, and it will now be streamed live on both YouTube and Facebook. This will also give us lots of added features in the presentation.
Presented by me and the amazing Nick Howes, they are approximately 45 minutes long, every second Tuesday, at 7.30 p.m., covering whatever is topical in space and astronomy. The next one will be on Tuesday 23 February: youtube.com/spacestorelive
NB – So, from now on it will be Live streamed to YouTube SpaceStore Live! Channel and Live streamed to Facebook Live. I'll post any last minute news via Twitter.
5. Telescope for sale
For sale: Celestron C8 (OTA only, no mount, but comes with a few accessories). About 8 years old but has had very little use, so is in excellent condition.
I would prefer to try and sell it locally if I could (socially distanced and with masks of course).
I do have a rough price in mind, but would be open to sensible offers. Contact details are:
6. STAR TRACKER ONLINE, hosted by AOP, 31 Mar.
Armagh Observatory and Planetarium hosts "Armagh StarTracker Online", a star show where we take you on a tour of the night sky using a virtual planetarium followed by live viewing the stars using telescopes in the Canary Islands. We will be using Slooh's online robotic telescopes to view the celestial objects. There will be a chance throughout the sessions to ask questions to the Director of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, Professor Michael Burton.
Each session will focus on different objects and stars that are visible in the night sky.
Tickets are free (donations are welcome) and the zoom details will be emailed in advance.
*Please note you only need to book one ticket for one household.*
Date: 31st March, Time: 8pm
Admission: Free (donations welcome)
7. Reach for the Stars astrophotography competition, run by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and the Irish Times jointly with the support of the IAS - John Flannery will be one of the judges. Details available at this site: For info: the images can be taken anywhere on the whole island of Ireland, up until 31 March 2021.
Or else, just go to dias.ie, the host website, and you should see it flagged in the announcements.
8. Space for Art Foundation Requesting Space Art from Children, deadline 1 May
The Space for Art Foundation invites children from anywhere in the world to contribute artwork to their next project: a space suit called BEYOND. Submissions can be emailed to the foundation or posted to the foundation's Facebook page. Entries should be submitted by 1 May 2021.
Learn more here: https://www.spaceforartfoundation.org/projects
9. Free Online Courses
"Moons of our Solar System" Online Course
Free online course on moons in the solar system from The Open University
Lesson plans and activities about astronomy and other STEM fields
See the full list of online events and resources here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RgKVmO-JkuiWMV55syx3EwUS2-hnYcJ72Ks3HLKex2A/edit?usp=sharing
10. Hard Teaser answered right away! &*%$£$%& !!! Hmmmph. That didn't last long. John O'Neill (again!) was in with the answer in under an hour!
The question was - What links: Cardiff (Wales), TCD, Tonbridge (Kent), and a bible ? The answer is Arthur Philip Norton, author of the star atlas and reference handbook that bears his name. It's often called 'the astronomer's bible', and is usually just referred to as 'Norton'. He was born in Cardiff, took his BA degree from TCD in 1898, and spent most of his career teaching at the Judd School in Tonbridge.
Well done again, John.
Easy Teaser: Of the 12 official zodiacal constellations, what record is held by Scorpius?
Please send all answers to me at my aol address firstname.lastname@example.org
11. Close fast pass by mountain-sized asteroid on March 21.
Asteroid 231937 will whizz past us on Mar 21, at only 5.3 Lunar Distances, and at the high speed of 34.4km/sec. It has an estimated diameter of 1024m. No danger of a collision, but that's fairly close for such a big asteroid and especially one going so fast! Remember, the energy of the impact increases directly with the mass of the body, but increases with the square of the velocity. That impact would destroy Greater London!
Addendum: Brian Beesley did some calculations, and estimates that the destruction would be very many times greater than my conservative guess.
UPDATE: Of the 60 NEOs listed currently on Space.com, this one has BY FAR the highest relative velocity! The mean velocity of those 60 is 10.26 km/sec. And the next highest velocity after this one is 26km/sec, and that's for a much smaller body and at a much greater distance.
And it's more than twice the diameter of the next biggest one in the list! In fact, so it's more than 8 times larger in volume. In fact it's almost 17 times larger in diameter than the average on that list.
Now the media is onto the story Asteroid news: Largest asteroid to fly by this year travelling 100 times faster than sound (msn.com) and Asteroid news: NASA tracking 2021's biggest asteroid- three times bigger than Eiffel Tower (msn.com)
12. ESA seeks new astronauts: apply March 31 to May 28
13. June 8-11: Institutions of Extraterrestrial Liberty, hosted by U of Edinburgh. 4 days of webinars on Human Exploration of Mars.
14. Davagh Dark Sky Park and Observatory closed until further notice
See https://www.midulstercouncil.org/visitor/things-to-do/star-gazing/davagh-dark-sky-observatory , and https://www.facebook.com/omdarksky/ I'll post any updates here. Or phone 03000 132 132 for changing Covid-19 advice.
15. 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.
New study suggests supermassive black holes could form from dark matter -- ScienceDaily We do need some new explanation of how such huge SMBHs could form so quickly.
Amazing view and findings on BL Lac Blazar https://www.facebook.com/1277799034/posts/10219177595052210/?sfnsn=scwspmo
Ireland's LOFAR probably contributed to this A map of 25,000 Supermassive Black Holes Across the Universe - Universe Today
EARTH & MOON
Record-high Arctic freshwater will flow to Labrador Sea, affecting local and global oceans
This is particularly bad news for Ireland/UK. Weakening Gulf Stream may disrupt world weather | Climate News Network
Earth's largest known impact crater is in Antarctica 250 million years ago a meteorite hit Antarctica | Polarjournal
'Harbor Seal Rock' on Mars and other new sights intrigue Perseverance rover scientists | Space Some of that terrain is going to be tough on the Rover's wheels!
Amazing video of Perseverance Descent and touchdown on Mars NASA unveils video of Perseverance landing on Mars [Video] (aol.co.uk)
Moon dust could be a serious problem! https://www.wired.com/story/moondust-nasa-lunar-ambitions/?utm_source=onsite-share&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=wired
TELESCOPES, INSTRUMENTS, TECHNIQUES
16. 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 https://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.