Saturday, 8 April 2017

AGM, Comet, Yuri's night, Jupiter, ISS, DIAS, ARC/QUB, IAA Observing nights, P9

Hi all,


1.  IAA AGM + Telescope Auction + Bring & Buy + Fix my 'scope! 12 April

The IAA AGM will be held in the usual venue at QUB at 7.30 p.m. Details are in an insert with the latest Stardust, which you should have got. After the official business we will be having -

* An auction of surplus IAA telescopes, of all sizes up to a 200mm equatorial reflector. Also lots of ancillary equipment. No reasonable offer will be refused, so this is your chance to pick up a real bargain.

* A bring and buy sale - bring along any of your own surplus gear, DVD's, books & magazines etc, and sell at whatever price you'll accept. For buyers, there are usually some good bargains here too.

   So bring plenty of cash and change in notes, £1, £2, 50p's etc.

* If you already have a telescope, but are not sure how to use it, or you think something may be wrong with it, bring it along (if it's portable) and ask our experts for help.

FREE REFRESHMENTS in the form of the usual biccies, tea and coffee.  All welcome!

TIME: 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB.

Free admission.  Free parking on QUB campus after 5.30 p.m.


2. Spot Comet Lovejoy (C/2017 E4). This comet will pass very close to the bright star Beta Pegasi (Scheat) tonight (8-9 April). That's the top right star in the 'Great Square of Pegasus'. The comet, which is about 7th magnitude, is moving from SW to NE, and will pass less than 1/4 degree below and left of Scheat at about 03.00 tonight. You'll need binoculars to see it, and a telescope will show more detail.


3. Yuri's Night, 12 April:

There will be a public showing of 'Gagarin - First in Space ' for Yuri's night on Wednesday 12th. It's in the Science Gallery, Dublin and entry is free, registration through Eventbrite: 


4. Jupiter at Opposition. Jupiter was at opposition on 7 May, so it's now very well placed for observing, in Virgo. it's the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon, so you can't possibly miss it.


5. ISS.  The ISS continues its series of evening passes over Ireland until 12 April. There will then be a long gap until the next series of morning passes on 11 May. Don't worry - they're not changing the orbit - it's just a result of the ever shortening nights at this time of year, which reduce the options for visibility in a darkish sky! Details as always on the excellent free site This site also has general information on most things visible in the night sky, including comets, and now solar eclipses.


6. PhD scholarships at DIAS.

The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) will be offering a number of PhD scholarships to work in the areas of Star and Planet Formation as well as in the development of optical/near infrared detectors for use in astronomy. Funding is available for 4 years starting from September/October 2016 and includes a stipend (at
current Science Foundation Ireland rates), postgraduate university fees, an IT allowance, and provision for conference and workshop participation. A primary degree in physics, computer science, astronomy or a related field is required.
   Interested students are asked to send a brief statement of their research interests, a CV, and to arrange for 2 letters of recommendation to be sent directly to Ms Eileen Flood, ( from whom further information can be obtained. Detailed inquiries can be made to Prof Tom Ray ( The deadline for applications, including receipt of letters of recommendation, is Friday 28th April 2017.


7. Important findings by ARC at QUB. Dr Wes Fraser, who led this study, gave an excellent lecture on the outer solar system to the IAA earlier in our latest lecture season. Well done, Wes! 


8. IAA Observing nights, Delamont Country Park, Killyleagh Co Down:

Next session: 21/22 April, weather permitting. This will co-incide with the maximum of the Lyrids meteor shower, so that would be a good chance to see some. Check IAA website, for details.
9. IAA Photo Exhibition "Heavens Above" in Bangor in July,

On Monday 3rd July the Irish Astronomical Association (IAA) will launch "Heavens Above", an exhibition of astonishing photographs of the sky taken exclusively by members of the Association in the Bangor Carnegie Library. The exhibition will run to 29th July.


10. AstroCamp 2017 The European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) are collaborating to support AstroCamp 2017, an astronomy-focused summer academic programme for secondary school students. The Summer AstroCamp 2017 will be held from 6 to 20 August in northern Portugal, at the Centre for Environmental Education and Interpretation of the Corno de Bico Protected Landscape. The applicant with the best application from one of ESO's Member States who is eligible to apply will win a bursary offered by ESO that will cover the camp fee.
Read more


11. Backyard Worlds: Planet Nine. Backyard Worlds is hoping to discover a large planet at the fringes of our solar system — a world astronomers call Planet Nine. But Backyard Worlds need your help! Finding such dim objects requires combing through images by eye, to distinguish moving celestial bodies from ghosts and other artifacts. So come and join the search — there are many images to look through. In the end you might discover a rogue world that's even nearer to the Sun than Proxima Centauri! Discover more about the project and how to contribute here:


12. Blackrock Castle Observatory Space Camps, July 10 - 21

Book your space camper in for a fun filled week of space and science activities.
Join us each day from 9:30 to 12:30.
Week 1 | July 10 - 14 | suitable for ages 7 to 9
Week 2 | July 17 - 21 | suitable for ages 10 to 12

The cost for each Space Camper is €95 per child which includes 1 week of Space Camp, Space Camp t-shirt & all activity materials.

Payment must be paid before your chosen Space Camp begins. 10% Discounts apply for members and siblings attending.

Please call us on 021 4326120 or email to book. For more information see


13. Heavens Above has new solar eclipse feature: has a new feature on solar eclipses, from 1900 to 2100. They are grouped in thumbnail maps covering 3 year periods, thus the opening page lists those from 2017 to 2020. You can select other dates from the arrows beside the year date.

   Clicking on a map brings up an enlarged map of the whole umbra and penumbra for that eclipse, with lots of data about the eclipse in two tables below that. If you want an explanation of any of the terms in those tables, just Google, or ask me.
  You also have several other menus at the top of those pages, including the circumstances of the eclipse at your location, an animation, and an interactive feature.
   If you want to see what the eclipse will be like from any other location, just enter or choose that location on the normal Heavens above home page, before you go to the eclipse page.
   Not quite as good as a full software program such as Skymap Pro, but simple and easy to access.


14. Total Solar Eclipse, USA, 21 August: Lots of people are asking about seeing this eclipse - the most accessible one for many years to come. See

I've just learned of this availability from a reputable eclipse travel firm based in Denver, Colorado. Denver is quite easy to get to from Ireland, (N and S) with just two flights necessary, and with new Norwegian Air offering cheap flights from Belfast to USA, that's also an option. BTW, I have NO connection with this firm whatsoever! BTW, "WY" is Wyoming, and "NE" is Nebraska.
Sirius Travel are leading several groups for this eclipse.  We are not yet sold out but it is getting close! Our availability is the following:
1.    CM Ranch near Dubois WY and the Grand Tetons (trip is 1 week at the dude ranch) - 2 bedrooms remaining in a 3 bedroom/3 bath cabin on the line of totality. Whoever signs up would need to be willing to share the cabin with a couple already signed up. 
2.    Americana Tour (9 day circuit beginning and ending in Denver and including some of the best of kooky American sights) - Our limiting factor is the number of hotel rooms we have secured in Alliance NE on August 20.  We have 4 rooms left which means we can accept 8 more passengers traveling double occupancy. We will be viewing the eclipse from Carhenge. :)
3.    Day Trip by bus from Denver and Boulder.  We planned this trip for people who do not have a week to spend on a tour or who live in the area and simply do not want to manage the particulars of the day themselves.  It has been very popular and by itself should keep 400+ cars off the road!  We will be leaving the Denver area with 17 buses by 5am and we will be observing from a private ranch on the line of totality near Douglas, WY.  At this moment we have about 25 seats left from Denver and another 10 from Boulder. Full details at Sirius Travel – Specializing in eclipse travel globally.

   For information about the eclipse see also 365 Days Of Astronomy: It's time for Totality 2017 | 365 Days of Astronomy and 

   The weather prospects are much better on the West side of the Mississippi - see:



* Global Astronomy Month:  April 2017. More information: 

* Earth Day / March for Science, April 22: In view of the latest attacks on science, this would be an opportunity to stand up and show support for science and scientists. It is hoped that something will be organised locally, in both Belfast and Dublin. More later.

* Solar Day, Dunsink Observatory: 17 June.

* Starmus Festival IV: Life And The Universe:  18–23 June 2017. Location: Trondheim, Norway. More information: 

* IAA Midsummer BBQ event. 24 June.

* European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS): 26–30 June 201,: Prague, Czech Republic. More information: 

* Asteroid Day: 30 June 2017. Location: Around the world. More Information: 
* ISSP: Major Event: The International Space Studies Programme (ISSP) will be coming to Ireland this year. It will be based at Cork Institute of Technology, running from 26 June to 25 August. NB  Buzz Aldrin will be there for the opening ceremony. There will be many events open to the public, they'll all be advertised on the SSP17 website if you can keep an eye on that for dates and tickets.

* International Symposium on Astronomy and Astrobiology Education: 3–8 July 2017; Utrecht, Netherlands. More Information: 

* IAA Solar Day, 6 August, WWT, Castle Espie, 2 - 5 p.m.

* 36th International Meteor Conference, in Petnica, Serbia, from September 21 to 24, 2017. For details contact the Local Organizing Committee at 

* International Observe the Moon Night, 28 October 2017. More Information: 


16. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member Enquiries to Andy McCrea: 

17: Interesting Weblinks: (Disclaimer - Use of material herein from various sources does not imply approval or otherwise of the opinions, political or otherwise, of those sources).  NB: If the title in the weblink does not indicate the subject matter, I give a brief simple intro before the link. I may also comment about the link afterwards.

Astrophysics: So 'massive' means massive! What a surprise. What else would it mean? The first image is not of a galaxy, of any sort! And the second is not an accurate representation of the Big Bang, as there were no stars at the time of the Big Bang!
Galaxy cluster collisions doubly accelerate electrons 
Our satellite galaxies co-exist with dark matter 
Searching for stellar supernova survivor 
Explaining the accelerating expansion of the universe without Dark Energy 
Earth & Moon More material for Apocalypsers, Second Comers, Rapturists, Nibiruers, and other nuts.
Solar System Here's a little exercise for you: if Psyche has a diameter of 200km, and a mean density of 9 ( a round number estimate based on densities and likely proportions of iron, nickel, copper and platinum), what's its mass? That's easy. Next question: how much energy is required to bring it to Earth orbit????
So much for international co-operation! If they are going to drive Rovers on the Martian surface in real time, they will need to be in 'Areostationary Orbit'; not on one of its moons as shown at the end of the video clip! $200,000 for the ticket; but your travel insurance will cost $5 million!
Pareidolia at its best! Enjoy.
Fuzzy Fibres Feel no heat in rocket engines 


19. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA.
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. You can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button. See also


Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

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