Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lectures - reminders; new weblinks

Hi all,
 
1. IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: Reminder: The next IAA Public Lecture is entitled "Searching for the Rarest Objects in the Universe", and will be on October 31, at 73.0 p.m. 
It will be given by Dr Daniel Mortlock of the Astrophysics Group, Imperial College London. Dr Mortlock led a team which recently found the most distant quasar yet discovered, with an amazing redshift of 7.1. See
  Admission is free, including light refreshments
N.B: this lecture will be in the Bell Lecture theatre (NOT the Larmor, as used for the last lecture), Physics building, main QUB Campus.
 

2. "Meteorites Tamed" Lecture Series, Ulster Museum, by Dr Mike Simms: 

This series continues on Monday evenings, at 7.30pm. Free admission.

SYNOPSIS: Every year visitors from Outer Space arrive on Earth. These are meteorites, messengers from beyond our planet. This series of six lectures from Dr Mike Simms will explain what meteorites are, where they come from, how they get here, and what they can tell us about the far reaches and earliest history of our Solar System. 


3. LECTURES: "The Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' – In Search of Origins" The Planetary Society, in association with the School of Physics NUI Galway, Galway Astronomical Club and CIT/Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork will present a public lecture, in both Galway and Cork, during Science Week 2012 titled "The Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' – In Search of Origins". The talk will describe how the mission is currently proceeding, show the latest images, outline the geography of Mars for those attending to become more familiar with the planet itself and invite discussion from the audience on topical matters of space exploration and its value to society.

Galway Talk: 8.00pm, Wednesday 14th November 2012, O'Tnuathail Theatre, NUI Galway

Cork Talk: 8.00pm, Friday 16th November 2012, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Blackrock, Cork

Admission Free. Places allocated on a first come first served basis - simply turn up on the night! Suitable for the general public and expert alike, and for children of about eight years and older.

   The presenter is Kevin Nolan, Co-ordinator to Ireland for The Planetary Society and author of the book "Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone".  Full details on the lectures, including media and lecture based downloadable resources available at: http://www.planetary.ie

4. School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2012, in association with the School of Cosmic Physics.
 "Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse" by Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S. Mon 19 Nov 6:30pm, Theatre L, Newman Building, Arts Block, UCD. Admission free

 

5. Robinson Lecture 2012, Armagh, 8 p.m., 22 November: 

 The eleventh Robinson Lecture will be held on Thursday 22nd November in The Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Armagh. It will be delivered by Professor David Southwood, Imperial College London. Professor Southwood has recently retired from the position of Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency and is now President of the Royal Astronomical Society.  The lecture will begin at 8.00 pm and is scheduled to end at 9.00 pm, followed by light refreshments.
   Title and abstract: "To Mars, Titan and the Universe Beyond! Europe's Arrival on the Space Frontier"
    The lecture will review how in the first decade of the 21st century the European Space Agency became an increasingly obvious presence in space science. ESA spacecraft were sent to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and a probe put down on Titan.  In a couple of years a European lander will land on a comet nucleus.  Beyond that comes a mission to Mercury.  At the same time, European missions like Herschel and Planck, looking at the evolution of the Universe from Big Bang through formation of galaxies, stars and planets, have taken a dominant position in current space astronomy. Some of the successes will be described from a personal point of view as well as some of the frustrations.  Moreover, the wider case will be made for why space science and exploration is important for a modern society.
    Attendance at the Robinson Lecture is free, but if you would like to attend, please contact the Armagh Observatory to obtain tickets.  Please write, telephone or send an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; e-mail: ambn@arm.ac.uk
.

 

6. RDS Lecture: UCD graduate Sandra Delamer will give a lecture on the JWST: 'How Did We Get Here? Pointing the James Webb Space Telescope at the distant past', on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 6.00pm in the RDS Concert Hall.

The lecture is free of charge and all are welcome.  Booking essential.
 
7. Hallowe'en at Armagh Planetarium: If you are into spooky spectaculars at this time of year, check out the programme at Armagh Planetarium. Build a rocket and see if you can make it out-fly Sinead on her broomstick! See: www.armaghplanet.com for details.
 
8. IAA Annual Subscriptions: All IAA members are reminded that if they have not yet renewed their subscriptions for 2012 - 2013, they should do so at once, otherwise they will not receive the next issue of STARDUST. You can do this easily online: http://irishastro.org.uk/join1.html, or via www.irishastro.org, or download a form, see Item 11 below.
 
9. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: 
 
10. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro


11. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
 
12. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://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.  See also www.irishastro.org
  
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley


Friday, 26 October 2012

New Lectures, Aurora cruise, nearby planet discovered, ISS, Hallowe'en, weblinks

Hi all,
 
1. IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: The next IAA Public Lecture is entitled "Searching for the Rarest Objects in the Universe", and will be on October 31, at 73.0 p.m. 
It will be given by Dr Daniel Mortlock of the Astrophysics Group, Imperial College London. Dr Mortlock led a team which recently found the most distant quasar yet discovered, with an amazing redshift of 7.1. See
  Admission is free, including light refreshments
N.B: this lecture will be in the Bell Lecture theatre (NOT the Larmor, as used for the last lecture), Physics building, main QUB Campus.
 

2. "Meteorites Tamed" Lecture Series, Ulster Museum, by Dr Mike Simms: 

The second lecture in this series will be on Monday 29 November, at 7.30pm. Free admission.

SYNOPSIS: Every year visitors from Outer Space arrive on Earth. These are meteorites, messengers from beyond our planet. This series of six lectures from Dr Mike Simms will explain what meteorites are, where they come from, how they get here, and what they can tell us about the far reaches and earliest history of our Solar System. 


3. Northern Lights Cruise: I recently received notice of a cruise round the coast of Northern Norway to observe the aurorae, among other things. This comprised direct flights from Belfast to Tromso, departing on 24 Feb 2013, then joining the Hurtigruten cruise ship. This seems quite attractive, but beware: the Moon will be Full on 25 February, seriously restricting the views you might otherwise get. It would only be near the end of the cruise that you would get a few hours of reasonable darkness before moonrise to get good viewing conditions.

 

4. LECTURES: "The Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' – In Search of Origins" The Planetary Society, in association with the School of Physics NUI Galway, Galway Astronomical Club and CIT/Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork will present a public lecture, in both Galway and Cork, during Science Week 2012 titled "The Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' – In Search of Origins". The talk will describe how the mission is currently proceeding, show the latest images, outline the geography of Mars for those attending to become more familiar with the planet itself and invite discussion from the audience on topical matters of space exploration and its value to society.

Galway Talk: 8.00pm, Wednesday 14th November 2012, O'Tnuathail Theatre, NUI Galway

Cork Talk: 8.00pm, Friday 16th November 2012, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Blackrock, Cork

Admission Free. Places allocated on a first come first served basis - simply turn up on the night! Suitable for the general public and expert alike, and for children of about eight years and older.

   The presenter is Kevin Nolan, Co-ordinator to Ireland for The Planetary Society and author of the book "Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone".  Full details on the lectures, including media and lecture based downloadable resources available at: http://www.planetary.ie

5. School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2012, in association with the School of Cosmic Physics.
 "Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse" by Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S. Mon 19 Nov 6:30pm, Theatre L, Newman Building, Arts Block, UCD. Admission free

 

6. Robinson Lecture 2012, Armagh, 8 p.m., 22 November: 

 The eleventh Robinson Lecture will be held on Thursday 22nd November in The Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Armagh. It will be delivered by Professor David Southwood, Imperial College London. Professor Southwood has recently retired from the position of Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency and is now President of the Royal Astronomical Society.  The lecture will begin at 8.00 pm and is scheduled to end at 9.00 pm, followed by light refreshments.
   Title and abstract: "To Mars, Titan and the Universe Beyond! Europe's Arrival on the Space Frontier"
    The lecture will review how in the first decade of the 21st century the European Space Agency became an increasingly obvious presence in space science. ESA spacecraft were sent to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and a probe put down on Titan.  In a couple of years a European lander will land on a comet nucleus.  Beyond that comes a mission to Mercury.  At the same time, European missions like Herschel and Planck, looking at the evolution of the Universe from Big Bang through formation of galaxies, stars and planets, have taken a dominant position in current space astronomy. Some of the successes will be described from a personal point of view as well as some of the frustrations.  Moreover, the wider case will be made for why space science and exploration is important for a modern society.
    Attendance at the Robinson Lecture is free, but if you would like to attend, please contact the Armagh Observatory to obtain tickets.  Please write, telephone or send an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; e-mail: ambn@arm.ac.uk
.

 

7. RDS Lecture: UCD graduate Sandra Delamer will give a lecture on the JWST: 'How Did We Get Here? Pointing the James Webb Space Telescope at the distant past', on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 6.00pm in the RDS Concert Hall.

The lecture is free of charge and all are welcome.  Booking essential.
 
8. Earth-sized planet found orbiting Alpha Centauri B. This attracted a lot of media attention, as the Alpha Centauri star system is the closest one to our Sun. And although the planet discovered is far too close to the star to harbour life, there was speculation that there could be other planets further out, in the 'habitable zone'.
    Perhaps, but as the star is a member of a fairly close binary system, the orbits of any more distant planets are liable to be highly chaotic, as the star system has an orbital eccentricity of about 0.5, which means that Alpha Centauri B's distance from the bigger, hotter and brighter A component varies from about the distance of Saturn to the distance of Pluto, from the Sun.
   Tough primitive life forms might be possible on an earth-sized planet in the habitable zone, but it's unlikely to have any advanced life forms. So don't worry about an imminent alien invasion! See
 
9. The International Space Station (ISS) continues its series of evening passes over Ireland, until October 30. Tonight, for example, it will commence a pass at about 18.55 - 18.57 - a bit earlier for those West and South of Belfast. See www.heavens-above.com for details for your own location.
 
10. Hallowe'en at Armagh Planetarium: If you are into spooky spectaculars at this time of year, check out the programme at Armagh Planetarium. Build a rocket and see if you can make it out-fly Sinead on her broomstick! See: www.armaghplanet.com for details.
 
11. IAA Annual Subscriptions: All IAA members are reminded that if they have not yet renewed their subscriptions for 2012 - 2013, they should do so at once, otherwise they will not receive the next issue of STARDUST. You can do this easily online: http://irishastro.org.uk/join1.html, or via www.irishastro.org, or download a form, see Item 11 below.
 
12. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2222384/The-Milky-Way-youve-seen-New-pictures-GIGAPIXEL-camera-reveal-galaxy-unprecedented-detail.html
 
13. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  @IaaAstro


14. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
 
15. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://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.  See also www.irishastro.org
  
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Lucie Green Lecture update, Other talks, ISS, weblinks, more

Hi all,
 
1. QUB/IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: The next QUB "Michael West Public Astronomy Lecture" is entitled "The Sun", and will be on October 17, at 7.0 p.m. It will be given by well known astronomer Dr Lucie Green (you probably saw her on Stargazing Live on BBC, and she has previously given a lecture to the IAA in Belfast). She is a recognised expert on the Sun, and her talk is sure to be fascinating. These lectures are held in conjunction with the IAA, and form part of our regular fortnightly programme. However, due to the larger than usual numbers expected, it will be held in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, also in the Physics building, instead. Admission is free, but places must be pre-booked. see: http://tinyurl.com/MichaelWestLectureSeries2012
N.B: this lecture is at 7pm (not the usual 7.30 for IAA lectures), and it will be in the Larmor Lecture theatre, at the other end of the physics building to the Bell lecture room. Look for the signs.

 

2. "Meteorites Tamed" Lecture Series, Ulster Museum, by Dr Mike Simms: Update:
Mondays at 7.30pm, 22nd October – 26th November 2012
Free. Booking for each lecture essential: Go to www.nmni.comNEW PHONE NUMBER is 9044 0068.
You can also use:https://www.nmni.com/Home/Ticket-Booking.aspx?EventId=569

    (Lines open Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm), Email: ulstermuseumreception@nmni.com
SYNOPSIS: Every year visitors from Outer Space arrive on Earth. These are meteorites, messengers from beyond our planet. This series of six lectures from Dr Mike Simms will explain what meteorites are, where they come from, how they get here, and what they can tell us about the far reaches and earliest history of our Solar System.
 


 3. School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2012, in association with the School of Cosmic Physics.

 "Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse" by Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S. Mon 19 Nov 6:30pm, Theatre L, Newman Building, Arts Block, UCD. Admission free

 

4. Robinson Lecture 2012, Armagh, 8 p.m., 22 November: 

 The eleventh Robinson Lecture will be held on Thursday 22nd November in The Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Armagh. It will be delivered by Professor David Southwood, Imperial College London. Professor Southwood has recently retired from the position of Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency and is now President of the Royal Astronomical Society.  The lecture will begin at 8.00 pm and is scheduled to end at 9.00 pm, followed by light refreshments.
   Title and abstract: "To Mars, Titan and the Universe Beyond! Europe's Arrival on the Space Frontier"
    The lecture will review how in the first decade of the 21st century the European Space Agency became an increasingly obvious presence in space science. ESA spacecraft were sent to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and a probe put down on Titan.  In a couple of years a European lander will land on a comet nucleus.  Beyond that comes a mission to Mercury.  At the same time, European missions like Herschel and Planck, looking at the evolution of the Universe from Big Bang through formation of galaxies, stars and planets, have taken a dominant position in current space astronomy. Some of the successes will be described from a personal point of view as well as some of the frustrations.  Moreover, the wider case will be made for why space science and exploration is important for a modern society.
    Attendance at the Robinson Lecture is free, but if you would like to attend, please contact the Armagh Observatory to obtain tickets.  Please write, telephone or send an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; e-mail: ambn@arm.ac.uk
.

 

5. RDS Lecture: UCD graduate Sandra Delamer will give a lecture on the JWST: 'How Did We Get Here? Pointing the James Webb Space Telescope at the distant past', on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 6.00pm in the RDS Concert Hall.

The lecture is free of charge and all are welcome.  Booking essential.
 
6. The International Space Station (ISS) has commenced a series of evening passes. See www.heavens-above.com for details for your own location.
 
7. IAA Annual Subscriptions: All IAA members are reminded that if they have not yet renewed their subscriptions for 2012 - 2013, they should do so at once, otherwise they will not receive the next issue of STARDUST. You can do this easily online: http://irishastro.org.uk/join1.html, or via www.irishastro.org, or download a form, see Item 11 below.
 
8. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: 
 
9. TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account:  @IaaAstro


10. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
 
11. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://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.  See also www.irishastro.org
  
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley


Monday, 15 October 2012

FIVE Lectures, ISS, Fireball latest, IAA Subs, Weblinks, Skymaps, more

Hi all,
 
1. QUB/IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: The next in the QUB Michael West Public Astronomy Lecture Series is entitled "The Sun", and will be on October 17. It will be given by well known astronomer Dr Lucie Green (you probably saw her on Stargazing Live on BBC, and she has previously given a lecture to the IAA in Belfast). She is a recognised expert on the Sun, and her talk is sure to be fascinating. These lectures are held in conjunction with the IAA, and form part of our regular fortnightly programme. However, due to the larger than usual numbers expected, it will be held in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, also in the Physics building, instead. Admission is free, but places must be pre-booked. see: http://tinyurl.com/MichaelWestLectureSeries2012

 

2. "Meteorites Tamed" Lecture Series, Ulster Museum, by Dr Mike Simms
Mondays at 7.30pm, 22nd October – 26th November 2012
Free. Booking for each lecture essential: Go to www.nmni.com, Telephone 028 9044 0000
(Lines open Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm), Email: ulstermuseumreception@nmni.com
SYNOPSIS: Every year visitors from Outer Space arrive on Earth. These are meteorites, messengers from beyond our planet. This series of six lectures from Dr Mike Simms will explain what meteorites are, where they come from, how they get here, and what they can tell us about the far reaches and earliest history of our Solar System.
 


 3. School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2012, in association with the School of Cosmic Physics.

 "Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse" by Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S. Mon 19 Nov 6:30pm, Theatre L, Newman Building, Arts Block, UCD. Admission free

 

4. Robinson Lecture 2012, Armagh, 8 p.m., 22 November: 

 The eleventh Robinson Lecture will be held on Thursday 22nd November in The Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Armagh. It will be delivered by Professor David Southwood, Imperial College London. Professor Southwood has recently retired from the position of Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency and is now President of the Royal Astronomical Society.  The lecture will begin at 8.00 pm and is scheduled to end at 9.00 pm, followed by light refreshments.
   Title and abstract: "To Mars, Titan and the Universe Beyond! Europe's Arrival on the Space Frontier"
    The lecture will review how in the first decade of the 21st century the European Space Agency became an increasingly obvious presence in space science. ESA spacecraft were sent to the Moon, Venus, Mars, and a probe put down on Titan.  In a couple of years a European lander will land on a comet nucleus.  Beyond that comes a mission to Mercury.  At the same time, European missions like Herschel and Planck, looking at the evolution of the Universe from Big Bang through formation of galaxies, stars and planets, have taken a dominant position in current space astronomy. Some of the successes will be described from a personal point of view as well as some of the frustrations.  Moreover, the wider case will be made for why space science and exploration is important for a modern society.
    Attendance at the Robinson Lecture is free, but if you would like to attend, please contact the Armagh Observatory to obtain tickets.  Please write, telephone or send an e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; e-mail: ambn@arm.ac.uk
.

 

5. RDS Lecture: UCD graduate Sandra Delamer will give a lecture on the JWST: 'How Did We Get Here? Pointing the James Webb Space Telescope at the distant past', on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 6.00pm in the RDS Concert Hall.

The lecture is free of charge and all are welcome.  Booking essential.
 
6. The International Space Station (ISS) has commenced a series of evening passes. See www.heavens-above.com for details for your own location.
 
7. Did the Fireball of Sep 21 orbit the Earth again? The Sep 21 Fireball may not after all have skipped off the atmosphere to re-enter one orbit later. Later analysis has now suggested this was not the case. See http://phys.org/news/2012-10-uk-fireball-world-analysis.html
 
8. IAA Annual Subscriptions: All IAA members are reminded that if they have not yet renewed their subscriptions for 2012 - 2013, they should do so at once, otherwise they will not receive the next issue of STARDUST. You can do this easily online: http://irishastro.org.uk/join1.html, or via www.irishastro.org, or download a form, see Item 13 below.
 
9. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: 
 
10. Skymaps: You can download current SkyMaps here: www.skymaps.com
 
11. TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account:  @IaaAstro


12. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
 
13. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://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.  See also www.irishastro.org
  
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Meteor outburst, aurora, lectures, ISS, Scope for sale, more....

Hi all,
 
1. DRACONID METEORS OUTBURST: (thanks to John Flannery & Ronan Newman for this)
Ronan Newman alerts that the Draconids meteor shower, peaking tonight, are in outburst. See http://lunarmeteoritehunters.blogspot.ie/2012/10/major-draconid-shower-outburst-underway.html for more details.  Information on the shower itself can be found at http://earthsky.org/tonight/legendary-draconids-boom-or-bust . See also: http://www.spaceweather.com
 
2. Aurora: has been reported from Mayo tonight so have look if you have a clear sky. The auroral oval is down over almost the whole country right now at http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/Europe.html  --  Also http://www.spaceweather.com
   (Totally cloudy in Newtownabbey at the moment!)
  
3. QUB/IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: The next in the QUB Michael West Public Astronomy Lecture Series is entitled "The Sun", and will be on October 17. It will be given by well known astronomer Dr Lucie Green (you probably saw her on Stargazing Live on BBC, and she has previously given a lecture to the IAA in Belfast). She is a recognised expert on the Sun, and her talk is sure to be fascinating. These lectures are held in conjunction with the IAA, and form part of our regular fortnightly programme. However, due to the larger than usual numbers expected, it will be held in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, also in the Physics building, instead. Admission is free, but places must be pre-booked. see: http://tinyurl.com/MichaelWestLectureSeries2012

 

4. "Meteorites Tamed" Lecture Series, Ulster Museum, by Dr Mike Simms
Mondays at 7.30pm, 22nd October – 26th November 2012
Free. Booking for each lecture essential: Go to www.nmni.com, Telephone 028 9044 0000
(Lines open Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm), Email: ulstermuseumreception@nmni.com
SYNOPSIS: Every year visitors from Outer Space arrive on Earth. These are meteorites, messengers from beyond our planet. This series of six lectures from Dr Mike Simms will explain what meteorites are, where they come from, how they get here, and what they can tell us about the far reaches and earliest history of our Solar System.
 


5. The International Space Station (ISS) will commence a series of evening passes on 11 / 12 October. See www.heavens-above.com for details for your own location.

 

6. ODYSSEUS SPACE CONTEST FOR EU SCHOOLS: (From Robert Hill): This is a nice challenge for schools in Ireland, North and south. See http://www.odysseus-contest.eu/

 

7. RDS Lecture: UCD graduate Sandra Delamer will give a lecture on the JWST: 'How DiD We Get Here? Pointing the James Webb Space Telescope at the distant past', on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 6.00pm in the RDS Concert Hall.
The lecture is free of charge and all are welcome.  Booking essential.
 
8. School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2012 in association with the School of Cosmic Physics

photoprofmartinrees

"Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse" by Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S.

Mon 19 Nov 6:30pm, Theatre L, Newman Building, Arts Block, UCD. Admission free.

 
 
9. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2212853/One-small-step-rover-The-amazing-footprint-Mars-left-Curiosity.html 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2204913/Nasa-breakthrough-suggests-Star-Treks-warp-drives-possible--practical.html. The best way to think of this is to separate the 'doughnut' into two parts: The 'dough', of which there would never be enough, and the 'nut' who might try it.
 
10.  TELESCOPE FOR SALE:
Tele Vue NP101 4 Element Apo Refractor; Gibraltar Mount; Sky Tour Computer; Encoder Kit; Eyepiece Caddy Set; Sky Tour Caddy Plate; Starbeam Finder; 2" Star Diagonal; Telescope Case. All in pristine condition. 3,500 Euro O.N.O., Mobile 00353 (0) 86 1976673. Brian Noonan.
 
11. Skymaps: You can download current SkyMaps here: www.skymaps.com
 
12. TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account:  @IaaAstro


13. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
 
14. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://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.  See also www.irishastro.org
  
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Lecture, Fireballs, Daft Dust, QUB Lecture, Meteorites, ISS, Comp, Mars, P/ISON

Hi all,
 
1. IAA LECTURE: "Tuning in the Radio Sun, & the LOFAR Observatory At Birr", Wed 3 October.
The next lecture of the IAA's new season will be given by Dr Peter Gallagher of Trinity College. Peter is currently Chairman of the Astronomical Science Group of Ireland, and runs the Rosse Solar Observatory at Birr Castle. He also leads the Irish LOFAR project: LOFAR is one of the post important and powerful projects in radio astronomy which is providing new insights in almost every area of astronomy. He is also a proud graduate of QUB.
   As we head towards the next solar maximum, expected next spring, there is renewed interest in our nearest star, whose vagaries are not only fascinating, but of vital interest to life on Earth.
 
   VENUE: Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Main campus, Queens' University, Malone Road, Belfast. Time: 7.30 p.m., Wednesday 3 October. Doors open from about 7.10. Admission Free, including light refreshments. All welcome.
 
2. Amazing Fireballs: Reports are still coming in from all over Ireland about the amazing multiple fireball which travelled over the UK & Ireland on 21 September. If you haven't already sent one, please do so asap.

  

3. DAFT & DANGEROUS DUST: I don't usually stick my neck out and criticize professional astronomers, but this is one of the daftest and most dangerous ideas I've come across in this subject area. Basically, the proposal is to combat global warming by using a mass driver to move a massive asteroid to the L1 Lagrangian Point (between Earth & Sun) and then blasting a huge cloud of dust off it to block some of the sunlight reaching Earth. See
 The proposal says that the ideal candidate asteroid is 1036 Ganymed. A few relevant facts:
It is an AMOR class, approximately spherical, diameter 32km. It's an S-type, comprising mainly magnesium silicates & iron.
Mass: 3.3 x 10 >16 Kg (33,000,000,000,000,000 tonnes)
Perihelion distance 1.233 AU (115m miles, 184.5 m Km)
Period 4.34 years
Mean orbital distance from Sun: 2.662 AU (398m km) (for comparison, Mars is 1.52 AU)
Eccentricity 0.537
Inclination 26.6 degrees.
Rotation period 10 hours
Next close pass to Earth: 13 Oct 2024, distance 56 million km.
PROBLEMS:
1. We are unlikely to be able to build a powerful enough mass driver to move such a massive asteroid at a significant rate within the next 50 years.
2. Even if we could build it, we would need a HUGELY powerful rocket to transport it to Ganymed, then slow it down enough to land it on the surface. Even transporting it in sections and assembling it there would be well beyond our capabilities for the foreseeable future.
3. The only way to provide it with enough power would be with a big nuclear generator, which poses its own problems and risks, or with a VAST array of solar panels, which would not work for half of its rotation period.
4. In any conceivable scenario it would take at least 100 years to move its perihelion in as far as the L1 point, 1.5m km inside the Earth's orbit. Think about it: on average, it lies 250 million km outside the Earth's orbit! At aphelion it goes closer to Jupiter than to Mars!)
5. It would then take another 50 - 100 years to circularise the orbit (remember the eccentricity is 0.537 Earth's orbital eccentricity is a mere 0.0167) 
6. And the inclination is 26.6 degrees - that's very high, and that would have to be reduced to zero, which would take a huge amount of energy and time. For comparison, apart from odd little Mercury (i = 7.0 degrees), the highest of any of the planets is Venus at 3.395 degrees.
7. If instead, the inclination is reduced as the asteroid is gradually being brought in to Earth's orbit, then it is going to come increasingly close to Earth each orbit. That is not only dangerous (obviously!), but the gravitational interaction with the Earth each orbit is going to GREATLY exceed the effect of the mass driver, and disturb the orbit of Ganymed, quite possibly putting its orbit out of control altogether! You can't just nudge an object of that mass quickly through the Earth's orbit when the Earth isn't there! So if you leave it with a high inclination until it is inside the Earth's orbit, and only then reduce the inclination, you add even longer to the timescale.
8. When (and if!) you get it stabilised at the L1 Lagrangian point, 1.5 million km on the Sunward side of the Earth, the proposal is to blast off a huge cloud of dust from its surface, to reach a diameter of 1,600 km around the asteroid.
9. Their estimate involves blasting off 5 x 10 >14 kg of material off its surface. That's 500,000,000,000,000kg. Look at the present mass of the asteroid - they propose to blast almost all of it off into space! How long would that take? 100 - 200 years?
10. The idea is that the mass of the asteroid would keep the dust cloud in place. What asteroid? - there would now be only a tiny fragment left! OK, the dust cloud will have its own mass, and the overall total will be much the same, but since it won't be concentrated centrally it will be much easier for particles to drift away.
11. And if they are going to use solar panels to power the mass driver - er, there's a problem: they will get so coated by dust that they will cease to work before the job has hardly started. Even if they have an automatic self cleaning mechanism, the dust cloud itself will block so much sunlight that their efficiency will be greatly reduced.
12. Even with the mass of the asteroid/dust cloud, a lot of particles will be driven away by the pressure of sunlight (radiation pressure), the Poynting - Robertson effect, and the Lorentz force. 
13: Every New Moon, particularly those occurring at apogee, will pull away some of the particles on the nearest edge of the cloud, gradually depleting it - perhaps as fast as it is being generated.
14. For such a totally untried and untested idea, the precision they quote for the amount that solar radiation would be reduced is both ridiculous and alarming: 6.58%. Not 'about 6 or 7%'. Not even '6.6%'. No, it would be 6.58%. That implies a degree of knowledge of all the parameters which we can't even approach, and it's dangerous to imply that we do. (The original paper may have some caveats or error bars on that point, but even so, there are just too many unknowns.)
15. And anyway, 6 - 7% would probably be too much - it could induce another major ice age!
16. All factors considered, it is unlikely that such an asteroid could be manoeuvred to the L1 point, and the required dust cloud created, within 200 years. We need a solution to the problem WELL before then. Does 200 years seem like a very long time? Well, it's over 50 years since we last set foot on the Moon, and it's unlikely we will do so again within the next 10-15 years, let alone build a base there. And this 'daft dust' idea is immeasurably more challenging than getting man to the Moon, or even to Mars.
17. An alternative proposal to use several smaller asteroids instead is only slightly less ridiculous.
   BUT the most dangerous part of this whole idea is that it encourages the irresponsible further addition of CO2 and Methane to the Earth's atmosphere because those with a vested interest, or callous indifference to the problem, can rely on ideas like this saying 'There's no problem - and if there is, sure we can fix it.'
   I'm only a humble amateur, but would it not be simpler to stop creating the problem in the first place? (I know that not everyone agrees that GW is occurring, or that it is anthropogenic, but that is certainly the majority view, and even if human activity is not the main source - why make it worse?)
Rant over.
 
4. QUB/IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: The next in the QUB Michael West Public Astronomy Lecture Series is entitled "The Sun", and will be on October 17. It will be given by well known astronomer Dr Lucie Green (you probably saw her on Stargazing Live on BBC, and she has previously given a lecture to the IAA in Belfast). She is a recognised expert on the Sun, and her talk is sure to be fascinating. These lectures are held in conjunction with the IAA, and form part of our regular fortnightly programme. However, due to the larger than usual numbers expected, it will be held in the Larmor Lecture Theatre, also in the Physics building, instead. Admission is free, but places must be pre-booked. see: http://tinyurl.com/MichaelWestLectureSeries2012

 

5. "Meteorites Tamed" Lecture Series, Ulster Museum, by Dr Mike Simms
Mondays at 7.30pm, 22nd October – 26th November 2012
Free. Booking for each lecture essential: Go to www.nmni.com, Telephone 028 9044 0000
(Lines open Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm), Email:
ulstermuseumreception@nmni.com
SYNOPSIS: Every year visitors from Outer Space arrive on Earth. These are meteorites, messengers from beyond our planet. This series of six lectures from Dr Mike Simms will explain what meteorites are, where they come from, how they get here, and what they can tell us about the far reaches and earliest history of our Solar System.
 


6. The International Space Station (ISS) is coming to the end of a series of 'Morning Passes' over Ireland. It will then commence a series of evening passes on 11 / 12 October. See www.heavens-above.com for details for your own location.

 

7. ODYSSEUS SPACE CONTEST FOR EU SCHOOLS: (From Robert Hill): This is a nice challenge for schools in Ireland, North and south. See http://www.odysseus-contest.eu/

 

8. Free Astronomy App: Some of you may be interested in this free app for iPhones and Androids/Smartphones: http://www.google.com/mobile/skymap/ (thanks to Nicola Armstrong for the suggestion)
 
9. GALE CRATER SET FOR SUMMER HEAT WAVE?
From: European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2012 Press Release 
    Preliminary weather reports from the Curiosity's Remote Environment Monitoring Station (REMS) are showing some surprisingly mild temperatures during the day.  Average daytime air temperatures have reached a peak of 6 degrees Celsius at 2pm local time.  A Martian day – known as a Sol – is slightly longer than Earths at 24 hours and 39 minutes.  Temperatures have risen above freezing during the day for more than half of the Martian Sols since REMS started recording data.  Because Mars's atmosphere is much thinner than Earth's and its surface much drier, the effects of solar heating are much more pronounced.  At night the air temperatures sink drastically, reaching a minimum of -70 degrees just before dawn.
    NASA's Mars Science Laboratory touched down in Gale Crater on 5th August 2012 close to the equator of Mars at a latitude of 4.5 degrees south.  The southern hemisphere of Mars is approaching springtime, leading to speculation about possible temperatures for at the height of Martian summer.
   "That we are seeing temperatures this warm already during the day is a surprise and very interesting," says Dr Felipe G√≥mez of the Centro de Astrobiolog√≠a in Madrid.  "It's very early days and we are only now being able to test our models against REMS observations.  If this warm trend carries on into summer, we might even be able to foresee temperatures in the 20s – and that would be really exciting from a habitability point of view.  In the daytime, we could see temperatures high enough for liquid water on a regular basis.  But it's too soon to tell whether that will happen or whether these warm temperatures are just a blip."

10. MORE HYPE on COMET ISON:
 
11. School of Theoretical Physics Statutory Public Lecture 2012 in association with the School of Cosmic Physics

photoprofmartinrees

"Cosmic perspectives: from planets to the multiverse" by Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, O.M., F.R.S.

Mon 19 Nov 6:30pm, Theatre L, Newman Building, Arts Block, UCD. Admission free.

 
 
 
13. Skymaps: You can download current SkyMaps here: www.skymaps.com
 
14. TWITTER: the IAA now has a twitter account:  @IaaAstro


15. BBC THINGS TO DO WEBSITE: See the forthcoming IAA events on  
 
16. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA. http://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.  See also www.irishastro.org
  
Clear skies,
Terry Moseley