Thursday, 18 February 2010

Lecture, Global Astronomy Month, IMO Meteor Conf, IAA at WWT, ISS, Galway SP‏

Hi all,

1. NEXT IAA LECTURE, 24 February: The next of the Irish Astronomical Association's public lectures will be given by Dr Lucie Green, of the famous Mullard Space Science Laboratory, London. Dr Green is well known as a TV presenter on astronomy.
Her talk is entitled "Living in the Sun's Atmosphere", and will cover all the fascinating and potentially dangerous aspects of living on a planet which is constantly bombarded by the Solar Wind, and is hit every so often by massive Coronal Mass Ejections, producing fantastic aurorae. The Sun is just 'awakening' after one of the longest and deepest solar minima on record, and we are now seeing sunspots more regularly, and there was even an aurora visible from N. Ireland earlier this week. But the best is yet to come, as we build up to Solar Max in a few years time.
Dr Green is a renowned expert on this subject, so we're sure of a fascinating talk. It's on WEDNESDAY 24 February, 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:

2. April has been designated as Global Astronomy Month, to follow on from the success of IYA 2009. See the following website for more details. I'll keep you informed of local events.
3. IMO Meteor Conference, Armagh, 16-19 September. Advance notice of this major meteor conference: The International Meteor Organisation will be holding its next annual conference in Armagh from the 16th through to the 19th of September. More details to follow shortly from principal organiser Dr David Asher, but mark your diaries in the meantime.

4. ISS + SHUTTLE: The ISS, with Shuttle Endeavour still attached, will be visible in Irish morning skies for another few days. See for details for your own location.

5. IAA: Public Star Party + Planetarium shows at WWT, Castle Espie, 26 March. More details on this in the next bulletin, but mark your diaries now. See

6. Excellent Galway Star Party. Congratulations to Ronan Newman and the rest of the Galway Astronomy Club for another excellent star party last W/E. They even managed to provide TWO successive clear nights, with superb observing at their very dark site at St Brigid's Garden out in Connemara.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

Thursday, 4 February 2010

FIREBALL, Lecture, FAS video, Galway Star Party

1. BRIGHT FIREBALL OVER IRELAND: A very bright fireball was seen over a large part of Ireland on Wednesday 3rd, at about 6 p.m. Reports have been received from as far apart as Meath and Kerry. There is a possibility of a meteorite fall, and the more detail we have, the better chance of finding it. If you saw it, or know anyone who did, please send in as much detail as possible, preferably including your best estimates of as many of the following as possible:

Exact Time

Your Location

Direction you were facing

Direction the fireball moved (e.g. Left to Right, if you know what direction you were facing) or NE to SW, or S to N, etc)

Height of the fireball above your horizon at start, highest point, and end of its visibility. You can estimate that in degrees if you have the experience, where 0 degrees is the horizon and 90 degrees is overhead. Otherwise, say something like 'halfway from the horizon to the zenith (overhead point)

How bright was it, compared to a full moon?

For how long was it visible, in seconds?

How far across the sky did you see it travel - e.g. halfway? Less? More?

Did you hear any sounds, like bangs, or pops, or crackling?

Did you see it break up, or any pieces fall off it?

Did you see it fade away to nothing, or did you see it disappear behind a building, or tree, or hill etc?


2. NEXT IAA LECTURE, 10 February: The next of the Irish Astronomical Association's public lectures will be given by Prof. Stephen Smartt, of Queen's University Belfast.

His talk is entitled "Supernovae: the latest findings", and promises to be a fascinating subject. Prof. Smartt is a renowned expert on this subject, so we're sure of a fascinating talk. It's on WEDNESDAY 10 February, 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:

3. Fedastro New Astronomy Video:

Dr. David Mannion has asked me to bring this to your attention: he has recently put onto two video websites ( and a 14 minute astronomy video called "Galileo and 400 years of telescopic astronomy".

The YouTube link is

Members might be interested in the video. Dr. Mannion hopes to film two more videos on

the same theme of 400 years of telescopic astronomy in the coming months. Please let David know what you think of the video by contacting him via email or at the address below, please do not reply to this list!

Dr. David Mannion, 34 Calverley Street. TUNBRIDGE WELLS, Kent TN1 2XD

Email: md.mannionat

4. GALWAY STAR PARTY: 12-13 February.


Friday February 12th Westwood House Hotel 7.30pm

7.30pm Philip Walsh: “The Drake Equation”

Philip Walsh is an amateur astronomer who been interested in the subject for many years and is a committee member of the Galway astronomy club. Is the Universe teeming with life, is life comparatively rare or are we totally alone in the heavens? These and other questions are explored in this talk which draws on many fields including microbiology, geology and history to identify some of the main factors necessary for communicable civilisations to evolve.

8.10pm Professor Paul Mohr: “Cassini, Meridiani, nodding Ecliptic”

Paul Mohr was born in England in 1931 and was educated at Manchester University. In 1957 he established the Department of Geology at Addis Ababa University, in 1977 he was appointed Professor of Geology at NUI Galway and retired in 1996. The inspiration for his talk comes from an American science Historian, Professor John Heilbron’s new book.

Subtitled' Cathedrals as Solar Observatories' it concerns a period of major astronomical advance, in post-Galilean Italy. The ‘nodding ecliptic’ refers to the discovery that the angle between the celestial equator and the ecliptic was found to be changing by an exceedingly

minute but measurable amount.

9.30pm -1am: Observing at Brigit's Garden

Speakers: Saturday February 13th

09.20am - 09.50am: Registration

Admission: Adult €30; Students / GAC Members €20; U18/ OAP Free

10.00am. Dr Aaron Golden NUI Galway: “Has Earth Contaminated the Solar System?

– the Case for Life on Mars”

Aaron Golden is a lecturer in the IT Dept. of NUI Galway. He has degrees in Experimental Physics, Computational Science and Astrophysics and is a well known speaker on the Irish Astronomical scene. His talk will outline the story to date on the search for life on Mars. He will explore the problem from an astrobiological perspective, arguing that the likelihood is that any life that we do eventually detect will probably be a distant relative of ours...

10.50am. Dr Vitaly Neustroev NUI Galway: "Amateur Astronomers and Cataclysmic Variables"

Vitaly Neustroev is a native of Russia, an amateur astronomer and scientist at the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway. Amateur Astronomers in organisations devoted to variable star observation such as the Irish Variable Star Observers Group use photometry help to keep

track of what is going on and by doing so are doing what the professional astronomers cannot do.

11.40am. Alastair Mc Kinstry NUI Galway: "Extra Solar Planets: Climates and Atmospheres"

Alastair McKinstry studied at Trinity College Dublin where he gained a B.A. in Experimental Physics and is currently working on a PhD modelling Exo-planetary formation & climates at NUI Galway. his talk describes what type of Exo Planets have been discovered, how their atmospheres differ from our solar ones, what they teach us about our

own climate, and what we expect to do next over the coming decade.

2.00pm. Dr Neal Trappe NUI Maynooth: "ALMA: Exploring the Cold Universe and

Cosmic Origins"

Neal Trappe graduated with a B.Sc. in Applied Physics from the University of Limerick in 1998. He completed a PhD in long wavelength optical analysis techniques at NUI Maynooth in January 2002. Currently he is employed there as a Lecturer in the Experimental Physics

Department. His talk will look at ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre Array) being commissioned in Chile. ALMA is the most powerful telescope for observing the cool Universe — molecular gas and dust as well as the relic radiation of the Big Bang.

2.50pm. Dr Deirdre Coffey “Investigating Protostellar Jets with the Hubble Space Telescope after Service Mission 4”

Deirdre Coffey is currently employed at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and she researches in the area of jets from x-ray binaries, pulsars, symbiotic stars and planetary nebulae; active galactic nuclei jets associated with quasars, blazers and gamma ray

bursts. She will discuss how her work with the Hubble Space Telescope has advanced our understanding of how protostellar jets come about.

4.00pm. Brian Harvey “The Asian Space Race”

Brian Harvey is a writer and broadcaster on spaceflight and has written histories of the Russian, Chinese, European, Japanese and Indian space programmes. In the past three years, China, Japan and India have sent their first spaceships to orbit the moon, sparking off

what is called the 'Asian space race'. His talk will look at how the three Asian nations developed their space program's, the visions of their founders, the distinctive characteristics of each program and where each may go in the future.

4.50pm. Professor Alan Smith, Director University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory “Space Science – the next 20 years”

Alan gained his PhD from Leicester University in 1978. He then went on to help develop the medium energy x-ray detectors for the ESA EXOSAT mission and joined ESA as a staff scientist in 1983. n 1990 Alan joined UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory where he became Director in 2005. He is also head of a consortium for a UK-led mission entitled

”MOONLITE” to the Moon that will place four penetrates in the lunar surface in order to make geochemical and geophysical measurements. At the moment the major space agencies are formulating their ambitious plans for future space missions, for instance, the European Space

Agency is presently down-selecting its Cosmic Vision program. Alan will provide a status report, describing key future missions and their scientific context and aspirations.

6.00pm: Tour of NUI Galway Telescopic/Radio Observatory

7.30pm: Annual Festival Dinner in Hotel (informal)

8.15pm: Terry Moseley: “Adventures with Heavenly Bodies”

Terry Moseley has been active in astronomy for over 40 years and is one of Ireland’s most popular Amateur Astronomers. His evening talk will be an account of his of some of the most interesting, scary & funny moments that have happened to him over the four decades that he

has enjoyed as an amateur astronomer

10.00-2am: Observing at Brigit's Garden or Table Quiz

Stands and Exhibition:

Galway Astronomy Club in association with the French Embassy

1. Galway Astronomy Club in association with the French Embassy "Exploring the Universe, our next steps"

2. Centre for Astronomy, NUI Galway: The Universe in 3-D

3. Irish Variable Star Observers Group

4. Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies

5. Michael O’Connell Astrophotography TBC

6. North Down Telescopes.

7. John Flannery SDAS Astronomy Book Sale

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley