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From: TerryMoselat signaol.com
Date: 4 February 2007 13:17:12 GMT
Subject: Two Lectures, Mercury, Zodiacal Light, Galway Astrofest

Hi all,

1. EAAS Lecture: 
Prof MONICA GRADY, one of the UK's leading experts on meteoritics, will give a lecture 
in honour of the late Andrew Trimble on Monday 5th February in the Thompson Primary 
School, Ballyrobert, Co. Antrim, commencing at 8PM.
 Professor Grady is a leading British scientist, primarily known for her work on meteorites. 
She is currently Professor of Planetary and Space Science at the Open University, having 
previously been based at the Natural History Museum, where she was curator of the UK's 
national collection of meteorites. She has built up an international reputation in 
meteoritics, publishing many papers on the geochemistry of primitive meteorites, 
Martian meteorites, interstellar components of meteorites and also on astrobiology and 
the possibilities of life elsewhere in the cosmos.
   Admission £3.

2. IAA Lecture:
The next Irish Astronomical Association Public Lecture: will be on "Stellar Evolution & 
Atomic Databases", and will be given by Heather Thompson & Peter Farrell (QUB). 7.30 p.m., 
Lecture Room 5, Stranmillis College, Belfast.
Admission free, including refreshments. All welcome".

3. MERCURY is well placed for viewing in the evening skies for the next week or so - it's about 
6 or 7 degrees below and a bit to the right of much more brilliant Venus, low in the 
Western twilight after sunset. Binoculars will help you find it, but it should be visible to 
the unaided eye once you've located it.
  It will be magnitude -0.8 tonight, but fading slightly to about magnitude zero over the 
next week.
   In a telescope, it will show a distinct gibbous phase tonight, but that will shrink to 
a moderate crescent by 11 February. It will increase in apparent diameter from 6.5 arcsecs to 
8 arcsecs over that period, but that is not enough to offset the decrease in phase, hence 
the fading in brightness.
4. ZODIACAL LIGHT: This elusive glow is best spotted in the evenings in spring when there is 
no interference from moonlight. You need a very dark site, with no light pollution at all.
Look as soon asthe last vestige of twilight has gone; it appears as a faint cone of 
light stretching up from the horizon along the line of the ecliptic for up to about 
10 - 15 degrees above the horizon.
  From Feb 6 to 17, start looking just as Venus is about to set - it gets fainter and smaller 
as it 'sets' after the Sun, so it appears most prominent just as soon as the sky is dark 
enough to see it, when the twilight has totally faded.
5. GALWAY ASTROFEST: Congratulations to the Galway Astronomy Club for an excellent 
Astrofest (formerly the Connaught Star Party) last weekend: All the lectures were excellent, 
as were the other presentations such as Dave Grennan & Jed Glover's lunchtime presentation 
on astro-imaging, and John Flannery's after dinner talk. Well done to all involved.
And finally, some cautionary advice re the latest credit card scams, passed on to me:
1. A friend went to the local gym and placed his belongings in the locker. After the 
workout and a shower, he came out, saw the locker open, and thought to himself, funny, 
I thought I locked the locker. He dressed and just flipped the wallet to make sure all 
was in order. Everything looked okay - all cards were in place. A few weeks later his 
credit card bill came - a whopping bill of $14,000!
   He called the credit card company and started yelling at them, saying that he did not 
make the transactions. Customer care personnel verified that there was no mistake in the 
system and asked if his card had been stolen.
    "No," he said, but then took out his wallet, pulled out the credit card, and yep - 
you guessed it - a switch had been made.
    An expired similar credit card from the same bank was in the wallet. The thief broke 
into his locker at the gym and switched cards.
Verdict: The credit card issuer said since he did not report the card missing earlier, 
he would have to pay the amount owed to them.
   How much did he have to pay for items he did not buy?  $9,000! Why were there no calls 
made to verify the amount swiped? Small amounts rarely trigger a warning bell" with some 
credit card companies. But all the small amounts added up to a big one!
2. A man at a local restaurant paid for his meal with his credit card. The bill for the 
meal came, he signed it and the waitress folded the receipt and passed the credit card 
   Usually, he would just take it and place it in his wallet or pocket. Funny enough, though, 
he actually took a look at the card and, lo and behold, it was the expired card of another 
person. He called the waitress and she looked perplexed. She took it back, apologized, and 
hurried back to the counter under the watchful eye of the man.
    All the waitress did while walking to the counter was wave the wrong expired card to 
the counter cashier, and the counter cashier immediately looked down and took out the real 
card. No exchange of words --- nothing! She took it and came back to the man with an apology.
Verdict: Make sure the credit cards in your wallet are yours. Check the name on the card 
every time you sign for something and/or the card is taken away for even a short period of 
time. Many people just take back the credit card without even looking at it, "assuming" that 
3. "Yesterday I [not me: T.M.] went into a pizza restaurant to pick up an order that I had 
called in. I paid by using my Visa Cheque Card which, of course, is linked directly to my 
cheque account. The young man behind the counter took my card, swiped it, then laid it on 
the counter as he waited for the approval, which is pretty standard procedure. 
   While he waited, he picked up his cell phone and started dialing. I noticed the phone 
because it is the same model I have, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then I heard a 
click that sounded like my phone sounds when I take a picture.. He then gave me back my card 
but kept the phone in his hand as if he was still pressing buttons. Meanwhile, I'm thinking: 
I wonder what he is taking a picture of, oblivious to what was really going on. It then 
dawned on me: the only thing there was my credit card, so now I'm paying close attention to 
what he is doing. He set his phone on the counter, leaving it open. About five seconds later, 
I heard the chime that tells you that the picture has been saved. Now I'm standing there s
truggling with the fact that this boy just took a picture of my credit card. Yes, he played it 
off well, because had we not had the same kind of phone, I probably would never have known 
what happened.
   Needless to say, I immediately canceled that card as I was walking out of the pizza 
parlor.  Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Whenever you are using your credit card 
take caution and don't be careless. Notice who is standing near you and what they are doing 
when you use your card. Be aware of phones, because many have a camera phone these days. 
When you are in a restaurant and the waiter/waitress brings your card and receipt for you 
to sign, make sure you scratch the number off.  Some restaurants are using only the last 
four digits, but a lot of them are still putting the whole thing on there."
  The truth is that they can get you even when you are careful, but don't make it easy for them.
Clear skies,

Terry Moseley


Last Revised: 2007 February 5th
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