Monday, 30 November 2009
1. DECEMBER 2: IAA FREE PUBLIC LECTURE, BELFAST: The next lecture of the Irish Astronomical Association's season will be given by Dr Pedro Lacerda of QUB.
His talk is entitled "The Small Bodies of the Outer Solar System" and will describe some of the intruguing objects and mysteries of that region, such as the comets, the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Objects, TNOs, Plutinos, etc. It's on WEDNESDAY 2 DECEMBER, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome! Full details of the rest of the programme are on the website: www.irishastro.org
2. IYA 2009 FREE TO ENTER COMPETITION: Deadline Extended: Due to a late surge of interest, the closing date for this competition has been given one FINAL extension - to 15 December 2009. Great Prizes available for all categories and age groups Full details on www.irishastro.org.
3. Blackrock Castle Observatory: Cosmic Christmas Launch & Flood Relief Benefit: First Fridays at the Castle, December 4th.
Blackrock Castle Observatory is launching Cosmic Christmas in association with RSVP Red Sandstone Varied Productions at the popular First Fridays at the Castle event on Friday December 4th at 6pm. All proceeds on the night are donated to the Cork St.Vincent de Paul flood relief efforts.
Come and enjoy Cosmic Christmas activities for visitors of all ages!
* Star crafting workshops on the half hour with fun astronomy facts from Frances. Make your own Christmas star for the tree at home! Parents welcome with younger children.
* Meet Steve Roche from the Deise Astronomy Club who will talk about his journey with Astro-photography and give tips for Christmas telescope purchases. (Deise Astronomy Club).
* The award-winning interactive astronomy exhibit Cosmos at the Castle is open until 9.30pm and free to the public.
* Join us in the Courtyard for a look through the Observatory’s telescopes while helping a great cause. Meet Santa and his cosmic crew whose comet has landed on Blackrock Castle Observatory!!
Visit Santa on his Christmas Comet from Dec 4th to Sunday Jan 3rd.
* Children's astro gift bag and photograph
* Easy grow cosmic seeds for small hands to tend their own life forms
* "Santa's Christmas Comet" Family Shows
* Traditional Christmas Market
* Transmit your letter to Santa through the radio telescope to the North Pole
* Design your own Christmas Star workshops
* Castle Bar and Trattoria serving delicious food
* Festive Carol singing
* Evening Stargazing guided by astronomers
* Observatory gift vouchers and telescope advice
The Cosmic Christmas Experience includes a 30 minute workshop, Santa visit and exhibit admission.
Family Ticket (2 adults 2 children) €40.00
Adult and Child €20.00
Be entertained, educated and mesmerized at Blackrock Castle Observatory.
Contact us.Phone: +353-(0)21-4357917; Restaurant: +353-(0)21-4357911.
Fax: +353-(0)21-4357924; Email: email@example.com; Web: www.bco.ie.
4. Open University Observing Course.
Thanks to Arnold Stewart for the following information:
The Observing Course is a bit expensive at £745 (£835 for those in the south) but I gather that it’s well worth it. There’s comments from others who’ve done it that you can see via http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/SXR208.htm (which gives full details of the course) but on the internal OU forum relating to it the students that have just finished it have even more glowing reports about it.
However, if anyone wants to go on it they will need to do it either in 2010 or 2011 as it’s being dropped after that due to financial problems that the OU are experiencing. It’s probably still possible to enrol for the 2010 presentation of it (held in March/April or September), enrolments for the 2011 presentation open mid-October 2010. In theory you should do the astronomy course (http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/S282.htm) and/or the planetary science course (http://www3.open.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/course/S283.htm) before it (both £360 or £795 for those in the south) but I imagine that a lot of people in the IAA would have more than enough knowledge about matters astronomical already; if not, enrolments for those are open to mid-December with the courses starting February 2010 (and November 2010 as well for the planetary science one).
5. MARTIAN METEORITE SURRENDERS NEW SECRETS OF POSSIBLE LIFE.
Compelling new data that chemical and fossil evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars was carried to Earth in a Martian meteorite is being elevated to a higher plane by the same NASA team which made the initial discovery 13 years ago. See:
I have a personal interest, as I was lucky enough to actually handle and examine the famous Allen Hills Martian meteorite 'ALH 84001' during a private visit to Prof Monica Grady and her world-famous meteorite collection at the Natural History Museum in London a few years ago. And I didn't even have to wear gloves! It's kind of scary to think that I may have held a piece of primitive Martian life in my own hands. (Of course, the case is still very far from being proved, and many scientists are still sceptical.)
6. STEREO Workshop: Advance notice: The solar research group at Trinity College Dublin is glad to invite the UK solar and heliospheric community to the 21st STEREO Science Working Group (SWG) to be held in Dublin, Ireland. This will be part of a series of STEREO meetings during the week of March 22-26, 2010. As part of this week of STEREO science we will also be hosting individual meetings for each instrument onboard STEREO.
We strongly encourage the Irish solar and heliospheric community to attend and present their STEREO science results. We also encourage a strong degree of participation by PhD students and young scientists to present their STEREO related results as oral presentations. As part of the meeting we intend to hold a tutorial session on STEREO data analysis software. This is a great opportunity to pose questions on STEREO data, discuss your projects and needs with the STEREO team, and help strengthen the mission as the spacecraft separate from Earth and we look forward to a new solar cycle. Details of the meeting are available on grian.phy.tcd.ie/stereo
The website contains information on travel, local hotels and transport, and meeting details and will be updated regularly. There may be a small conference fee payable on arrival to cover some expenses. This will kept as low as possible so as to encourage maximum attendance. Registration is via the meeting website and the local organising committee greatly appreciate early registration.
Hope to see everyone in Dublin, James McAteer, STEREO Scientist, Trinity College Dublin. James.firstname.lastname@example.org:
LOC: James McAteer (chair), Peter Gallagher, Shane Maloney (website), Jason Byrne, David Long.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
1. International Year of Astronomy 2009: Astronomy Evening, with Observing and a Mobile Planetarium; Roe Valley Country Park, Limavady, FRIDAY 20 NOVEMBER. The Irish Astronomical Association (www.irishastro.org) are holding a PUBLIC ASTRONOMY EVENT AT THE ROE VALLEY COUNTRY PARK, near LIMAVADY, to mark International Year of Astronomy 2009. If the sky is clear we will show members of the public the wonders of the night sky, including mighty Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, with its four big Galilean Moons, and lovely double stars, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies from far across the universe. We may even get a quick view of Mars, although not until late in the evening. We will also have an exhibition, meteorites, and starshows in a mobile planetarium, so there will be plenty to enjoy, even if it's cloudy. Wrap up warm in any case, especially if the sky is clear. There is a cafe on site, where light meals, hot snacks and drinks are available, and it will be open for the evening. The Country Park is well signposted off either of the roads joining Limavady and Dungiven, the B68 and the B192. It's about 3-4 miles South of Limavady, with nice dark skies for viewing the heavens. Time: 8 p.m until about 11 p.m. No admission charge. All welcome
2. ISS + Space Shuttle. Space Shuttle Atlantis has now joined the ISS in orbit, and in clear skies the joined pair can be seen flying over Ireland for the next week or so. See www.heavens-above.com for predictions for your location.
3. De Valera, Einstein, and the future of advanced research. Lecture: Saturday, November 21, 8pm, Trinity College, Dublin. What use is advanced research? Especially during a recession? Why has Barack Obama promised to spend more than 3% of GDP on research and development, and to treble the number of science research fellowships? And can advanced research help to re-position Ireland as a ‘smart economy’? It was during the depressed 1930s that a mathematician-turned-politician, Éamon de Valera, established the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). The DIAS was modelled on another institute born during another depression: Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), established in 1930 in the aftermath of the great Wall Street crash. Funded by philanthropists, it was designed to help the US kickstart its 3rd-level programme for education and research, by generating ideas that would ‘change how we think’. (DIAS remains exchequer-funded, but the founding legislation left open the possibility of an endowment.) Fundamental to the vision behind both institutes was the belief that you change the world, not by following pre-set conventional lines, but in ‘the pursuit of interesting things’. It helps if your first faculty member is Albert Einstein – and Princeton tempted the Nobel physicist from Germany in 1932. Similarly, Dublin’s first appointment was another big name Nobel physicist: Austrian emigré Erwin Schrödinger, who remained a professor at DIAS from 1939 until his return to Austria in 1956. Significantly, the two institutes embraced both the sciences and the humanities from the outset. Princeton now has four schools – historical studies, mathematics and physics, natural sciences, and social science – and Dublin has three: theoretical physics, cosmic physics and Celtic studies. Combining theoretical physics and Celtic studies reflected de Valera’s interests and vision for a modern Ireland – ‘Hamilton’s country’, after the great Irish mathematical physicist of the 19th century – but also clearly reflects something more profound in human enquiry. But what of the Princeton and Dublin institutes today, and other institutes like them around the world? And what is their role in modern research and education. Noted English physicist Prof Peter Goddard, one of the founding figures of ‘string theory’ and current director of Princeton’s IAS, will talk about the relevance of institutes for advanced studies on Saturday, November 20. His lecture is entitled: "There are no excuses in paradise: the past, present and future of institutes for advanced studies." This is part of de Valera’s legacy: one of the institute’s “statutory public lectures”, as required under the 1940 Act which established DIAS, and part of the institute’s ongoing programme of public engagement.
Goddard’s mentor as a young scientist was Paul Dirac, another Nobel physicist. Dirac shared the 1933 Nobel prize with Schrödinger and was a frequent visitor to DIAS. Saturday’s lecture comes at a time when research funding is under intense scrutiny. But also in a year when US President Barack Obama reaffirmed his belief in fundamental research as “scientific capital”. Addressing the US National Academies of Science in April, Obama said: “ . . . scientific discovery takes far more than the occasional flash of brilliance – as important as that can be. Usually, it takes time and hard work and patience; it takes training; it requires the support of a nation. But it holds a promise like no other area of human endeavour.” In another parallel with historic developments, two months ago, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, the current incumbent of de Valera’s position, again looked to Ireland’s rich tradition of cultural and scientific innovation when, addressing the Global Irish Economic Forum at Farmleigh, he spoke of the need to reposition Ireland for the future as a smart economy. Ireland as an innovation nation must, he said, “think smarter, work smarter and be smarter”. We need, not just to predict the future, but to invent it. All are welcome to Saturday’s lecture, and admission is free, however >
4. CfDS Petition. Please see the attached petition. While it applies only to Wales, it would help to set a useful precedent for all of us in Ireland, N & S. Incidentally, Scotland has just achieved International recognition for its first dark sky park, in Galloway, with a rating of 23 out of 24!
5. FETTU LAUNCH IN ARMAGH: Armagh County Museum is holding an informal reception at 8.00pm on Monday 30th November, to mark the opening of the exhibition "From Earth To The Universe" (FETTU) featuring 16 images capturing astonishing views of outer space. The exhibition, which is being held in conjunction with the Irish Astronomical
Association, the Armagh Observatory and Dr Miruna Popescu, is marking the
International Year of Astronomy, which is now near its end. I would be delighted if you could attend.
Light refreshments and mince pies will be provided. If you plan to attend, please contact the Secretary of the Museum, Sarah Millsopp, at email@example.com or by telephone at telephone: 028-3752-3070.
Dr Greer Ramsey, Acting Curator, Armagh County Museum, The Mall East, Armagh, BT61 9BE Clear Skies, Terry Moseley
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
It appears that quite a few people did not receive my last email bulletin, containing 9 items, sent on 4 November, even though it showed up as 'Sent' on my account.
The following contains some of those items, even though they are now already started, plus some new items.
To give me some idea of whether this one is getting to you, I would be very grateful if any of you whose email address begins with a vowel (A,E,I,O or U) would reply just letting me know if you get this one, and also if you got the earlier one on 4 November. (Nothing significant in the letters - it's just an easy semi-random selection.)
1. NOV 18: IAA FREE PUBLIC LECTURE, BELFAST: The next lecture of the Irish Astronomical Association's new season will be given by Dr Simon Jeffery of Armagh Observatory.
His talk is entitled "Smoking Stars". (And it's not about Marlene Dietrich etc......) It's on WEDNESDAY 18 NOVEMBER, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome! Full details of the rest of the programme are on the website: www.irishastro.org
2. IYA 2009 Astro-Event, Roe Valley Country Park, Limavady, Co L'derry, on FRIDAY 20 NOVEMBER. THE NEXT IAA PUBLIC ASTRONOMY EVENT FOR IYA2009 WILL BE AT THE ROE VALLEY COUNTRY PARK, near LIMAVADY, to mark International Year of Astronomy 2009. The Country Park is well signposted off either of the roads joining Limavady and Dungiven, the B68 and the B192. It's about 3-4 miles South of Limavady, with only a little light pollution from that town.
We will show members of the public the wonders of the night sky, including mighty Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, with its four big Galilean Moons, and lovely double stars, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies from far across the universe. We may even get a quick view of Mars, although not until late in the evening.
We will also have an exhibition, meteorites, and starshows in a mobile planetarium, so there will be plenty to enjoy, even if it's cloudy. Wrap up warm in any case, especially if the sky is clear.
There is a cafe on site, where light meals, hot snacks and drinks are available, and it will be open at least for the first part of the evening.
Time: 8 p.m until about 11 p.m.
No admission charge. All welcome
3. EXHIBITION, ARMAGH: An interdisciplinary exhibition bringing together science, education and art, named "Over us All is the SElfsame Sky" (OASES) opened on Monday 9 November in the Rotunda Gallery, St Patrick's Trian, Armagh. The exhibition is part of a series of Astro-Art events held to celebrate the UN International Year of Astronomy 2009 and it will be launched with a performance of music, poetry and dance by pupils from Mount St. Catherine's Primary School, Armagh and the Armagh Rhymers.
The astronomy-themed exhibition contains paintings by astronomer Miruna Popescu of Armagh Observatory and artist Dara Vallely of the Armagh Rhymers, as well as work done in Astro-Art Fun workshops by children from schools as far apart as Omagh, Armagh and Dublin. The launch is open to the public and everyone is welcome to attend.
Contact: Dr Miruna Popescu, Armagh Observatory, IYA2009-Ireland Coordinator
4. EXHIBITION, CRAWFORD OBSERVATORY, UCC: A special exhibition for IYA 2009 entitled "Exploring the Universe: Our Next Steps", will open at the historic Crawford Observatory, University College Cork, from 9 to 11 November. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome.
For further details contact Dr Paul Callanan, paulcmiranda.ucc.ie
5. PORTRAITS OF ASTRONOMERS EXHIBITION: The National Museums Northern Ireland and the Armagh Observatory announce the launch of the exhibition "Portraits of Astronomers", at 8.00pm on Thursday 19th November at Armagh County Museum.
This stunning exhibition consists of 38 black and white photographic portraits featuring some of the UK's leading astronomers including household names like Sir Patrick Moore, the first Director of the Armagh Planetarium. Other local astronomers include Professor Mark Bailey, Director of the Observatory and Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the first woman to hold the title of the President of the Institute of Physics. Each photograph is accompanied by a short explanation of what it was that
inspired them to study the stars.
Among the invited guests will be Lucinda Douglas-Menzies who took the images
and whose book and exhibition is a fitting tribute to the United Nations International Year of Astronomy 2009.
The organsisers would be delighted if you could join them for the launch of this very
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Sarah Millsopp, Secretary, Armagh
County Museum, The Mall East, Armagh, BT61 9BE. Tel: 028-3752-3070;
Mark E. Bailey, Armagh Observatory, Greer Ramsey, Armagh County Museum
6. SHUTTLE LAUNCH: ATLANTIS TARGETING LAUNCH DATE OF NOV. 16
NASA managers tentatively cleared the shuttle Atlantis for launch Nov. 16 on a three-spacewalk mission to deliver nearly 15 tons of spare parts and supplies to the
International Space Station. See: http://spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts129/091029frr/
7. The ISS will start another series of evening passes over Ireland on 11 November, so depending on the launch time of the Shuttle, it may be possible to see both passing over together, as the Shuttle closes in on the ISS for docking. More on that later.
8. ASTROARCHAEOLOGY: Martin Brennan to return to Ireland after a quarter of a century. PIONEERING AUTHOR TO HEADLINE WINTER SOLSTICE CONFERENCE (Adapted from Anthony Murphy)
Pioneering author Martin Brennan, whose work changed the way the world looked at Newgrange and the Boyne Valley monuments, is set to return to Ireland for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Brennan wrote "The Boyne Valley Vision" and "The Stones of Time", two books which radically altered thinking about Stone Age monuments and which challenged the widely-held academic view that Newgrange and its sister sites were just tombs. The author, who is living in Mexico where he is currently working on concluding his next book, will headline a conference at Newgrange on Sunday, December 20th, the eve of Winter Solstice. He will reveal fascinating new data from Mexico relating to ancient alignments and the Mayan calendar, and will reveal the resonance and the synchronicity between his discoveries in Mexico and those he made in Ireland in the 1980s.
The conference will be titled "The Boyne Valley Revision" in honour of his first ground-breaking book, The Boyne Valley Vision, and will outline how the theories he advanced over a quarter of a century ago have matured, and how new data from other parts of the world is supporting the idea that the ancient monuments were inspired by the Cosmos.
He will be joined at the conference, being held at The Newgrange Lodge in the heart of the Boyne Valley by Toby Hall and Jack Roberts, two members of his research team who helped him with his major discoveries, and Anthony Murphy.
His next book will be called 'Days of Power', to be published some time early in 2010. He has discovered fascinating alignments in Mexico, and his work also looks at the correlation between the beginning of the Mayan Long Count Calendar and the construction of Newgrange.
"The Boyne Valley Revision" will take place on Sunday, December 20th, at The Newgrange Lodge. Tickets are on sale now at 65 euro for the day, and can be booked by emailing saraebc.ie or by phoning The Newgrange Lodge on +353 41 988 2478.* To celebrate Martin Brennan's return to Ireland, a celebratory dinner will be held at the Lodge on the evening of the event. Spaces for this dinner will be limited. The dinner, which will be attended by Martin Brennan, will cost an additional 35 euro. Enquiries to the same email address and phone number as above.
It is hoped that on the morning of Winter Solstice, Monday 21st, Martin Brennan will be accompanied to Newgrange to watch the sunrise.
9. GALWAY ASTROFEST: Advance Notice. Latest programme:
Friday Feb 12th 7.30pm, two talks (free admission)
Philip Walsh: “The Drake Equation” (Probabaility of Extraterrestrial Life: T.M)
Professor Paul Mohr: “Cassini, Meridani nodding Ecliptic”. This will be an extensive account of astronomical work based on meridian instruments constructed in five European cathedrals, Santa Maria Novella and the Duomo in Florence, San Petronio in Bologna, Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome, and Saint Sulplice in Paris. Measurements of the resulting solar images were useful to Cassini in enabling him to distinguish between the Ptolemaic and Keplerian systems. An additional bonus was the detection and accurate quantification of secular decline in the obliquity of the ecliptic
Observing afterwards at our Dark sky site 12 miles north of Hotel, Brigits Garden Park see www.galwaygarden.com/
Saturday February 13th
1. Dr Aaron Golden NUI Galway: “Has Earth Contaminated the Solar System? – the Case for Life on Mars”
2. Brian Harvey: “The Asian Space Race”
3. Alastair Mc Kinstry NUI Galway: "Extra Solar Planets: Climates and Atmospheres"
4. Dr Deidre Coffey DIAS: “Investigating Protostellar Jets with the Hubble Space Telescope after Service Mission 4”
5. Dr Vitaly Neustroev NUI Galway: "Amateur Astronomers and Cataclysmic Variables"
6. Dr Neal Trappe NUI Maynooth: "ALMA: Exploring the Cool Universe" Title TBC
7. Professor Alan Smith, Director of Mullard Space Science Lab, University College London UK : “Space Science: The Next 20 Years”
8. After Dinner talk presented by Terry Moseley IAA: "Adventures with Heavenly Bodies"
Observing again at Brigits Garden and tour of NUI Galway Observatory and facilities
See: http://galwayastronomyclub.ie/, http://galwayastronomyclub.blogspot.com/