1. PERSEIDS PARTY.
This year's Perseid Meteors are blessed with very favourable conditions: Maximum is predicted for 21h on 12 August, and the Moon will be only 2 days old, so won't interfere. The radiant is circumpolar from Ireland, and so plenty of meteors should be seen any time after the sky gets dark that evening. In fact some Perseids can be seen any night from early August until about the 19th, but they are most frequent on the days around maximum.
The radiant lies roughly between Perseus and Cassiopeia, and so is rising in the NE each evening as twilight ends, but the meteors can be seen in any part of the sky. Many are bright, and some leave persistent 'trains' lasting a few seconds or so. In good conditions you can see an average of about one Perseid per minute
The Irish Astronomical Association will be holding a 'Perseid Party' at Delamont Country Park, near Killyleagh, Co Down, just off the A22 between Killyleagh and Downpatrick, on the evening of Thursday 12th, or if the weather is bad that evening, on the following night, Friday 13th, assuming it's not a washout too! This will be a 'Fry-up', rather than a BBQ, so bring any sort of a gas or spirit cooker you may have, plus frying pan, and whatever grub & drinks you want. Also your own plates, cups/mugs, cutlery etc.
For more details and updates re the weather decision for Thursday or Friday night, see www.irishastro.org.
2. IAA SOLAR DAY, WWT, CASTLE ESPIE, 15 AUGUST. The IAA will be holding another one of their popular 'Solar Days', at 2 p.m. on Sunday 15 August, at the WWT, near Comber, Co Down. We'll have the usual selection of solar telescopes, binoculars etc, to view the Sun in visible light, H-Alpha, etc. And we'll have the portable planetarium too for star shows, so even if it's cloudy, come along. Bring any solar observing equipment you may have. It's free admission if you bring a telescope or filtered binocs, otherwise normal admission charges apply. More details on www.irishastro.org.
3. IAA SOLAR DAY, MOUNT STEWART, 22 AUGUST. And the IAA will be holding yet another 'Solar Day', at 2 p.m. on Sunday 22 August at Mount Stewart, near Newtownards, Co Down. We'll again have the usual selection of solar telescopes, binoculars etc, to view the Sun in visible light, H-Alpha, etc. And we'll have the portable planetarium too, so even if it's cloudy, come along. Bring any solar observing equipment you may have. It's free admission if you bring a telescope or filtered binocs, otherwise normal admission charges apply. We may also have compressed air/water rocket launching see www.irishastro.org for an update on that
4. DOUBLE PUBLIC LECTURES AT QUB, 31 AUGUST. The Astrophysics and Planetary Science Department at QUB and the Irish Astronomical Association are jointly hosting a free double public lecture in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB, Belfast. This event, arranged by Professor Stephen Smartt, has been planned to coincide with a major professional conference on Pan-STARRS, but that is open only to registered professional participants.
The double public lecture is free, but admission is by ticket only! These may be obtained from the IAA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or alternately if you at Queen's they can be got from the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Department.
The two speakers are each world-renowned experts in their fields, and very good speakers, so this is a treat not to be missed!
Prof Carlos Frenk, FRS, Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology, University of Durham, will give a lecture entitled "From the Big Bang to the Universe of Galaxies", and Prof Chris Stubbs, Chair of the Department of Physics at Harvard University, will speak on "The Accelerating Universe: A Crisis for Fundamental Physics". Don't be intimidated by the titles - these lectures will be aimed at a non-specialist public audience.
The event will be from 7.15 to 9.00 p.m.
Remember, it's free, but admission by ticket only, so apply right now!
More details of the talks and speakers are on the IAA website: www.irishastro.org
5. GREEN LASER: Thanks to Dr Miruna Popescu for this tip:
"Terry, I just happened to see this offer from Deal Extreme, so I wonder if some people might like it. I got one and thought it good value: it works out at about £10. You can get it via paypal. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.2390."
N.B. I haven't seen one myself, so I can give no assurances about quality or whether it's as powerful as claimed. There are more details on that website. Also, you have no guarantee that you'll get one in without Customs wanting a hefty payment - sometimes they get through OK, sometimes not! If you do get one, use it carefully!