Tuesday, 20 June 2017

BBQ: Book NOW! Solstice event, Saturn, Space exhib, Boyle SS, AsteroidDay, Space

Hi all,
 
1. IAA BBQ. The IAA's midsummer BBQ will once again be held in the grounds of Armagh Planetarium, on Sat 24 June, courtesy of Prof Mike Burton, Director of the Observatory and Planetarium. Plans are to start at about 2.00, tour the grounds, and see one of the new shows, "Black Holes" at 4.00 p.m. There will also be a new item: comprising a competition testing your astronomical knowledge and powers of observation, with various prizes!
   Attendance at the BBQ is free, but we'll pay the standard group rate admission charge for the Planetarium show. PLEASE LET ME KNOW BY RETURN IF YOU WILL BE GOING TO THE SHOW, SO I CAN CONFIRM THE NUMBER OF SEATS BOOKED. See http://www.armaghplanet.com/ for details.
   The BBQ arrangements are simple - we provide the cooking facilities - you bring your own consumables, plates, cutlery, condiments, sauces, plastic glasses or cups, folding chairs & tables, rugs or whatever you prefer (and your own BBQ as well if you prefer it).
 
2. Summer Solstice, 21 June, The Sun will reach its greatest Northerly declination on June 21 at 04.24, or 05.24 BST, marking the start of astronomical summer, and the longest day of the year for the N. Hemisphere. Since that's just about the time it rises, if you look then, you'll see it rise just about as far Northwards along your Eastern horizon as it ever does. For example, from my home in Glengormley, Co Antrim, it rises at 04h 46m 56s, BST. Sunrise is defined as the moment when the upper limb of the Sun first reaches the (theoretical) horizon, not when it's fully up or even half up. At that time, its azimuth from here is 44 deg 54m 28s, or just fractionally North of NE.
   Some other interesting snippets: At that time its geocentric declination is N 23 deg 26' 4.1". But from here, its declination is N 23 deg 25' 56.3". That's called the 'topocentric' declination: the difference is that I'm observing from over 54 degrees North latitude, so my view is slightly different to the geocentric one.
   Also, at the moment of sunrise from here, the Sun's centre is actually 50' 11" below my horizon! So as it then has a diameter of only 31' 28".55, and therefore a radius of only 15' 44".275, how can that be? It's because of the refraction effect of the Earth's atmosphere, which bends the light as it passes through, making the Sun appear more than half a degree higher up than it actually is!
 
3. Summer Solstice at Beaghmore Stone Circles, Co Tyrone: Celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 21 with a varied programme of events organised by Mid-Ulster District Council, commencing at 7.00 p.m.. There will be observing if clear, talks on the archaeoastronomy of the stone circles and other entertainment. Check https://whatsonni.com/event/36679-summer-solstice-at-beaghmore-stone-circles/the-burnavon-theatre for a bus journey to the site and back (there's a charge for this)
 
4. Saturn at Opposition. Our celestial showpiece, and undoubtedly the most beautiful sight in our solar system, if not the entire sky, was directly opposite the Sun in the sky, and so visible all night, on 15 June. It's also at its closest to Earth at present, so it's the best time to observe it. BUT - it's also almost as far South in the sky as it can be, so it's poorly placed for observing from our latitudes. Not only is it always quite low down in the sky, with atmospheric absorption and poor seeing, it's above the horizon only for a fairly short time (pace the comment above - think about it; this is when the nights are shortest!). Nevertheless, it's always worth a look just to see those glorious rings!
 And the amazing Cassini spacecraft exploring Saturn and its system, continues its series of amazing and hazardous dives through the gap between Saturn and its rings. Watch out for more amazing images coming back.
   IAA members will have full details of how to observe and what to see in the current issue of STARDUST
 
 
5.  "Space:Out Of This World": this exhibition continues at Belfast Central Library, and is supported by the IAA with the loan of various exhibits, mainly from Andy McCrea.
 
6. Robert Boyle 6th annual Summer School, 22-25 June, Lismore and Youghal. Celebrating the life of one of Ireland's greatest scientists, the theme this year is "What is Science For?" For full details see www.robertboyle.ie, or phone Lismore Heritage Centre at 058 54975.
 
7. Asteroid Day Live, 30 June:  The excitement at Asteroid Day Global is almost palpable! We are just one month away from Asteroid Day 2017 and are finally ready to present the first details surrounding the Asteroid Day LIVE broadcast to you. This newsletter contains all the information you need to know about Asteroid Day LIVE in one place. Just click on any of the image links below to find out more. We've got a lot in store for you and hope that you are as thrilled about the coming weeks as we are - we certainly cannot wait for you to see the first ever global 24-hour broadcast about space and asteroids.
Let's write history together! See https://asteroidday.org/live/ 
 
8. Space events in Dublin
Thanks to Dr Norah Patten for this alert - Two very exciting events in July -  Both taking place in Dublin and tickets available through www.inspirespace.com 
July 1st: top 16 finalist in the CSA astronaut selection in 2009, Dr. Geoff Steeves shares what it takes to make it all the way to the final pool.
July 15th: NASA astronaut Dan Tani and ESA EUROCOM Andrea Boyd join Rick O'Shea for an interactive discussion.
Both events are on a Saturday afternoon - so perfect for the family :-)
 
9. NLCs This is the season to see these beautiful and mysterious high-altitude Noctilucent Clouds, thought to be caused by meteoric dust high in our atmosphere. However, a 'heat wave' in the upper atmosphere has temporarily wiped them out, so we're still waiting. Look low down in the Northern sky, just as the brightest stars become visible.
 
10. IAA Photo Exhibition "Heavens Above" & public outreach event, Bangor 3 July.  On Monday 3rd July the Irish Astronomical Association (IAA) will launch "Heavens Above", an exhibition of astonishing photographs of the sky taken exclusively by members of the Association, in the Bangor Carnegie Library. The exhibition will run to 29th July. There will also be a public lecture, and solar and maybe lunar viewing, weather permitting.  See  http://www.visitardsandnorthdown.com/events/heavens-above

11. Sunflowerfest, Tubby's farm, Hillsborough, 28-30 July. We are delighted to be partnering with the NI Science Festival in bringing some astronomy to this event. The theme this year is "A Parallel Universe", which sounds interesting! We'll be doing solar observing during the day, and planet- and star-gazing at night, if clear. The farm is at 31 Cabra Road, Hillsborough, Co Down. Full details at https://sunflowerfest.co.uk/ 
 
12. Summer of Space at BCO. CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory in association with Cork County Council has just officially launched the Summer of Space programme to celebrate the International Space University's 2017 Space Studies Program (SSP17) running in Cork from June 26 - August 25 this year.
   The Summer of Space comprises over fifty public events taking place across Cork City and County and the island of Ireland. Most of the events are free and aimed at people of all ages and interests.
   For more information about the Summer of Space please see the official press release attached and our website - www.bco.ie/events

 

13. Blackrock Castle Observatory Space Camps, July 10 - 21

Book your space camper in for a fun filled week of space and science activities.
Join us each day from 9:30 to 12:30.
Week 1 | July 10 - 14 | suitable for ages 7 to 9
Week 2 | July 17 - 21 | suitable for ages 10 to 12

The cost for each Space Camper is €95 per child which includes 1 week of Space Camp, Space Camp t-shirt & all activity materials.

Payment must be paid before your chosen Space Camp begins. 10% Discounts apply for members and siblings attending.

Please call us on 021 4326120 or email info@bco.ie to book. For more information see www.bco.ie

 

14. AstroCamp 2017 The European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) are collaborating to support AstroCamp 2017, an astronomy-focused summer academic programme for secondary school students. The Summer AstroCamp 2017 will be held from 6 to 20 August in northern Portugal, at the Centre for Environmental Education and Interpretation of the Corno de Bico Protected Landscape. The applicant with the best application from one of ESO's Member States who is eligible to apply will win a bursary offered by ESO that will cover the camp fee.
Read more http://www.eso.org/public/unitedkingdom/announcements/ann17006/?lang

 

15. Backyard Worlds: Planet Nine. Backyard Worlds is hoping to discover a large planet at the fringes of our solar system — a world astronomers call Planet Nine. But Backyard Worlds need your help! Finding such dim objects requires combing through images by eye, to distinguish moving celestial bodies from ghosts and other artifacts. So come and join the search — there are many images to look through. In the end you might discover a rogue world that's even nearer to the Sun than Proxima Centauri! Discover more about the project and how to contribute here: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/marckuchner/backyard-worlds-planet-9

 

16: FUTURE EVENTS ALERT:

* European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS): 26–30 June 201,: Prague, Czech Republic. More information: http://eas.unige.ch/EWASS2017/about.jsp 

* International Symposium on Astronomy and Astrobiology Education: 3–8 July 2017; Utrecht, Netherlands. More Information: http://ise2a.uu.nl/ 

* IAA Solar Day, 6 August, WWT, Castle Espie, 2 - 5 p.m.

Astronomy Museums, Visitor Centres, & Public Observatories Workshop, 27-29 September 2017, Leiden, the Netherlands. See: https://www.communicatingastronomy.org/visitorexperience/  
World Space Week 2017: 4–10 October 2017, Location: All around the world. More Information: http://www.worldspaceweek.org/theme/ 
International Observe the Moon Night: 28 October 2017, Location: All around the world, More Information: http://observethemoonnight.org/ 

* NEXT LECTURE: The first lecture of the new IAA season will be on Wed 20 September 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB. Free admission.  Free parking on QUB campus after 5.30 p.m. http://irishastro.org.uk/lecture

* 36th International Meteor Conference, in Petnica, Serbia, from September 21 to 24, 2017. For details contact the Local Organizing Committee at imc2017@imo.net 

* International Observe the Moon Night, 28 October 2017. More Information: http://observethemoonnight.org/ 

 

17: The future of astronomy?

I reproduce the following without claiming that it's all authoritative, although I suspect it is. It's both scary and exciting. If anyone is thinking of a career in astronomy for their children, you might want to consider this - will research also be taken over, at least in part, by AI? Indeed you might want to think about the next generation, and whether there will be any jobs for them at all...

   "In a recent interview the MD of Daimler Benz (Mercedes Benz) said their competitors are no longer other car companies but Tesla, Google, Apple, Amazon 'et al'.  Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
   Uber is just a software tool, they don't own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.   Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties.  

   Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world,  10 years earlier than expected.
    In the US, young lawyers already don't get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. If you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.
   'Watson' already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 times more accurately than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
   Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You won't want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver's licence and will never own a car.
   It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking spaces into parks. 1.2 million people die  each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles (100,000 km), with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 6 million miles (10 million km). That will save a million lives each year.
   Most car companies will probably become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; are completely terrified of Tesla.
   Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model  will disappear.
   Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.
   Electric cars will become mainstream about 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can now see the burgeoning impact.
   Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can't last. Technology will take care of that strategy.
   With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination of salt water now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter (@ 0.25 cents). We don't have  scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.
   Health:    The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There are companies who will build a medical device (called the "Tricorder" from Star Trek)  that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it.   It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medical analysis, nearly for free. Goodbye, medical establishment.  

   3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All  major shoe companies have already started 3D printing shoes.
   Some spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.
   At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities.    You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home.
   In China, they already 3D printed and built a complete 6-storey office building.    By 2027, 10% of everything that's being produced will be 3D printed.
   Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: "in the future, do you think we will have that?" and if the answer  is yes, how can you make that happen sooner?
   If it doesn't work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.
   Work:  70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.
   Agriculture:   There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all day on their fields.
   Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal, is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don't need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as "alternative protein source" (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).
   There is an app called "moodies" which can already tell in which mood you're in.  By 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions, if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it's being displayed when they're telling the truth and when they're not.
   Bitcoin may even become the default reserve currency ... Of the world!
   Longevity:  Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it's 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100. [As the world is already grossly overpopulated, this will simply add to the problem - TM]
   Education:  The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone  has the same access to world class education.
   Every child can use Khan academy for everything a child needs to learn at school in First World countries. There have already been releases of software in Indonesia and soon there will be releases in Arabic, Swahili and Chinese this summer. I can see enormous potential if we give the English app for free, so that children in Africa and everywhere else can become fluent in English and that could happen within half a year."

  FOOD FOR THOUGHT, EH?

 
18. 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.
 
Astrophysics
Do dense star clusters produce gravitational waves? https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170602112853.htm 
Measuring a black hole's spin and tilt to see how massive stars die https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170601151842.htm 
 
Cosmology
 
Earth & Moon  
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4597164/NOAA-reveals-cloudiness-map-historic-2017-Eclipse.html This is generally sound advice, and well presented, but the 7th illustration (not counting the small one about when to use eclipse specs) is total nonsense. It's the one with the black circle, in the Atlantic Ocean, at the end of the track. It may be that they have taken a still from the end of an animation, and this shows the view of the Sun from various places as the eclipse ends out in the Atlantic Ocean. Just ignore it! The article & maps shows that 'West is best' as far as weather prospects are concerned - basically, get well to the West of the Mississippi/Missouri. I'll be in Wyoming, a bit SE of Casper, where the weather chances are good.
 
Exoplanets
Surface gravity on many exoplanets may be similar to Earth's https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170601095521.htm 
 
SETI
An interesting press release from SETI re: collaboration with Jodrell Bank: SETI@home: Jodrell Bank to partner with Breakthrough Initiatives
At Berkeley SETI Research Center, we've long been friends and collaborators with Professor Michael Garrett and the team at Jodrell Bank. We're delighted to continue our collaboration as the Breakthrough Initiatives announce a formal partnership with Jodrell in the search for intelligent life beyond Earth: https://breakthroughinitiatives.org/News/11
Although this partnership doesn't involve data from telescopes at Jodrell flowing to SETI@home (at least at the present time), the sharing of data, algorithms, and strategies will benefit the science programs at Berkeley and Jodrell, as well as at other telescopes involved in Breakthrough Listen and in SETI in general. You can seen an interview with Mike, recorded a few weeks back, at https://youtu.be/ZRMiuCFACCw , and take a 3D tour of the Lovell telescope and control room at Jodrell at https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=B8UZb1joxsG . (Thanks to Barry Phillips for this)
 
Solar System:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4602918/Sun-born-evil-twin-dubbed-Nemesis.html Well, if the system broke apart within a million years, and the Sun is about 4600 million years old, how did the 'twin' fling an asteroid at Earth which killed the dinosaurs only 65 million years ago? And what about all the other even bigger impacts on the Earth, Mercury, Moon, Mars, asteroids, Jovian and Saturnian Moons, and probably Venus too? And if it's only 1.5 light years away we would have found it by now - we've found small faint red and brown dwarf stars much further away than that. (see https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170602112832.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29)
 
SPACE:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4608792/Inside-Elon-Musk-s-Mars-megaship.html So what's a 'zero-gravity cross-over'? The whole ship will be zero-gravity, unless they rotate it, and although it's circular, there doesn't seem to be a plan to do that. they should all watch Arthur C Clarke & Stanley Kubrick's "2001 a Space Odyssey" again and again until they get the idea!
 
SUN
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4595550/International-Space-Station-crosses-sun-s-surface.html Excellent shot. But not a sunspot in sight. Pity they forgot to credit the photographer! And the degree of scientific ignorance and illiteracy from some of the commentators is appalling, indeed frightening. Is the idea of multiple rapid short exposures really so difficult to comprehend?
 
Telescopes etc.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4612088/NASA-reveals-targets-James-Webb-megatelescope.html NB it will NOT be the 'world's largest telescope'; however it will be the largest telescope in space. 
 
19. TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: @IaaAstro.

 

20. 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.

 

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley