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From: TerryMoselaol.com
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 20:11:56 EST
Subject: Mars Dust storms, lecture, TV,  Bargain telescope

Hi all, 

1. A major regional dust storm has broken out on Mars in the  
Chryse-Argyre-Thaumasia region: Following information comes from the BAA:
   "A regional dust storm has broken out on Mars. Dr Donald Parker (USA) 
writes of his CCD images taken on December 13 (Ls = 315 degrees): "A significant 
dust storm has arisen to cover Chryse, Erythraeum M., Aurorae Sinus, Candor, 
with smaller clouds in northern Argyre and possibly Aram." On December 9-10 
Chryse and Candor were bright, especially in Parker's red light images, but no 
definite obscurations were present. Typically storms in this region break out in 
eastern Valles Marineris or in southwest Chryse (classical SW Xanthe). Data 
from December 14-16 indicate a spreading of the dust to include part of 
   Observers with large telescopes may be able to follow this.

2. A final reminder that the last IAA lecture this year will be by yours 
truly, again on the subject "Aliens, - Where Are They?"  Details:

Wednesday 17 December, 7.30 p.m. Irish Astronomical Association,  Public 
Lecture: "Aliens: Where Are They?", by Terry Moseley, past President Irish 
Astronomical Association. 7.30 p.m., Lecture Room 5, Stranmillis College, Belfast. 
Admission free, including light refreshments, all welcome. I'll be considering 
the possibility of life, particularly intelligent life, elsewhere in the 
universe, and the likelihood of contact between us, and of visits from, or to, them.

3. Just for the benefit of those of you who did not read the final part of 
the last email, repeated below, too closely, the following programme is not 
REALLY a repeat. At least, not as far as I know....
   "The next HORIZON programme might be of interest. It's on Thursday 18, at 
9.00, BBC2, on the subject of "Time", and the possibility of 'time travel'. 
Any of you who attended the recent excellent event in Armagh on the subject will 
no doubt be interested. One of the topics will be Prof. Frank Tipler's 
proposed 'time machine' - theoretically possible, they say, if you can build 
something with half the mass of our galaxy!
   This programme was first shown in February 2046...."

4. Bargain LIDL Telescope. Thanks to all who gave very positive feedback on 
the Lidl Skylux 70mm equatorial refractor. Lots of you bought it on the 
strength of my recommendation, and all reports so far are favourable. There are some 
still available, but you may need to ring round if your local store has sold 
out. Here are the basic details again:
   It's a proper 70mm F10 achromatic refractor, coated lens, with 2 
eyepieces, star diagonal, 2x barlow, (erecting (terrestrial) 1.5x barlow?), & finder, 
AND it's on a proper German Equatorial mount, on a steady adjustable tripod, 
with accessory tray & slow motions on both axes. Cost: 59.95 pounds! In the ROI it's 
even cheaper, at an amazing 64.95 euro!  It's worth that for the mount alone! To be 
honest, the eyepieces are only of middling quality, but they are standard 
1.25" diameter, so you can easily upgrade to better ones, often getting good 
bargains S/H.  And it now comes complete with "Astronomy software and Star 
Navigator on CD". 
   Three other points: it has a built in lens hood / dew shield; the tube is 
well baffled internally; and the focuser is nice & steady & smooth, and has 
plenty of travel. 
   The optical tube assembly (w/o eyepiece) weighs only 1.1kg, so it's very 
light, even though it has a metal tube.  BTW, they don't take credit cards! 
Just Debit cards, or cash.
   This 'scope (inc. mount & tripod) is more or less identical to one sold in 
a certain astronomy shop in Dublin (I won't embarass them by naming them) for 
449, euro or at 399 euro to 'Club Members'. That is less than one sixth of the 
price! Or about one seventh of the price to non-members! And it's also incomparably 
better value than the ones sold in the various catalogues, such as Argos & 
Index. So it's definitely the bargain of the year! 

Clear skies

Terry Moseley

Last Revised: 2003 December 17th
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