The Michael West Public Lectures are sponsored by Dr. Michael West, a QUB alumnus and benefactor, and aim to give everyone the chance to hear about the latest scientific developments in Astrophysics and related subjects directly from world-leading scientists.
7. Dave Grennan captures Quasar Spectrum: Irish amateur astronomer Dave Grennan has managed to record the spectrum of the best-known quasar, 3C-273 in Virgo. It is the brightest quasar in our skies (but still a very faint 13th magnitude!), and older readers may remember the excitement when these mysterious high redshift objects were first discovered. We now believe that a quasar is the highly energetic nucleus of a distant galaxy, harbouring a super-massive black hole.
Dave recently managed to record its spectrum from his home observatory in Dublin and also calculated the red-shift and distance from the spectrum. This amazing feat was a result of his superb skill, dedication and planning, and all the more remarkable having been done from a seriously light-polluted city. Congratulations to Dave for yet another amazing performance, showing just what Irish amateur astronomers can do. See http://www.webtreatz.com/index.php/articles/34-general-articles/86-quasar-2c-374-measuring-the-redshift.
8. Sky at Night @ 55. Sir Patrick Moore has picked his 55 favourite night sky objects and over the month of April, would like you to see as many as you can. The Moore Marathon will help celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night, first broadcast on 24th April 1957.
From the Moon to the star Albireo, the Moore Marathon has something for everyone. You can spot some with your eyes, others need binoculars or a telescope, and you can take part on your own or as a group. On 6 May on BBC One, and 10 May on BBC Four, The Sky at Night will feature a selection of your observations, from the simple to the most interesting. You can take part by downloading a Moore Marathon observing form at http://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/news/sky-night-55-moore-marathon
9. New European Astronomy Journalism Prize launched. A new journalism competition to capture and promote inspirational coverage of astronomy was launched on Thursday 29 March at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester. The prize is the ultimate for any astronomy enthusiast - a trip to the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile. Never a week goes by without coming across stories or features on astronomy in the UK media; yet many of the people behind the stories have never had the opportunity to visit the facilities that produce the results they are covering. The Very Large Telescope is the world's most advanced optical instrument, and is located at the Paranal Observatory on Cerro Paranal, a 2,635m mountain in the northern part of Chile.
Entries into the European Astronomy Journalism Prize must be about astronomy and related areas of technology, or about the work and lifestyles or astronomers, engineers or others working in the field of astronomy. Online, written or broadcast entries are welcome. The competition is being run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and European Southern Observatory (ESO, in conjunction with the Association of British Science Writers and the Royal Astronomical Society. It is open for entries from Monday 2 April 2012 until Friday 27 July 2012. Works must have appeared in English and in the UK, between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012 inclusive to be eligible. They must reflect European interests. A full list of terms and conditions can be found at www.stfc.ac.uk/astroprize and at www.eso.org/public/astroprize
10. "God, Science and Global Warming". An Audience with Sir John Houghton CBE FRS. 7.45pm, Tuesday 15th May 2012, The Market Place Theatre, Armagh. (Prof Mark Bailey asked me to circulate this, which may be of interest even though it's not strictly astronomy)
Sir John Houghton, former co-chair of the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will speak on "God, Science and Global Warming". This will be followed by a discussion chaired by BBC Presenter Mark Carruthers with questions and contributions from the audience.
Members of the Panel will include Father Timothy Bartlett (author of the pastoral reflection on climate change "The Cry of the Earth"), Professor Valerie Hall (Emeritus Professor of Palaeoecology at Queen's University Belfast) and Michael Nugent (Chairman of Atheist Ireland). With Sir John as the keynote speaker and with such a group of experts this promises to be an enjoyable and enlightening evening.
The ticket price of £7.50 (+ £1 online booking fee) includes light refreshments at 7.00pm and there are afternoon tours of Armagh City's main attractions, and packages for overnight stays. Book online at
To learn more about the event and opportunities to experience Armagh City visit http://www.armaghu3a.org/?p=492, and http://www.armagh.co.uk/.
11. TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account. twitter@IaaAstro