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From: TerryMoselat signaol.com
Date: 2 January 2007 23:19:04 GMT
Subject: Perihelion, NY Party, Comet, Magic Lecture, Certificate

Hi all,

Happy New Year to you all!

1. You'll be glad to know that the Earth is at perihelion (closest to
the Sun) tomorrow, 3 Jan, although N Hemisphere residents don't get much
benefit from the fact.

2. The Irish Astronomical Association's annual Xmas/New Year Party will
be held as usual at the Tudor Private Cinema, near Comber, on Sat 6
January, at 7.30 p.m. The film will be the very enjoyable "October Sky",
& there will be lots of lovely eats & drinks of varying degrees of
lethality, from totally innocent up to Polonium 210 cocktails. We finish
off with the usual diabolical quiz from George Brannan, with lovely
prizes. Only £10 per adult, £5 per child; special family rate of £25 for
2 adults + 2 children. Best value this side of Betelgeuse!     Book now
with the IAA Treasurer, John Hall, at iaa2000at signbtinternet.com, or
Jimmyaquariusat signbtinternet.com, or ring 028 (048 from ROI) 9084 3109. All
members, friends and visitors are welcome.

3. Brightening Comet McNaught: (the following is adapted from a BAA
e-circular, with thanks). A few observers, including at least one in
Ireland, have been able to find comet 2006 P1 (McNaught) in the twilight
sky, and estimates are that the comet is about 2nd magnitude. as the
brightening continues it should become easier to see. Some predictions
indicate that it may become brighter than Venus, but as it will be low
in the twilight, that may not be as spectacular as it sounds!    It can
now be seen in both evening and morning twilight, with the tail better
seen in the evening twilight when it will be nearly vertical.  Exact
magnitudes are difficult to predict, and probably even more difficult to
estimate, as differential atmospheric extinction will be considerable.
However, it should get at least as bright as Sirius, and maybe much
brighter.        When reporting magnitude estimates please give the
exact time of observation, your location (latitude and longitude) and
the comparison stars you have used.  Please submit observations, whether
visual or CCD/DSLR images as soon as possible after you make them.    
UK/Ireland observers will be able to see the comet in the twilight until
around January 14th, when it will only be visible in the evening.  It
may be worth trying daylight observation around January 14, although the
comet is then only 5 degrees from the Sun, so extreme care will be
needed.  Mercury is close by, and the comet may well be brighter than
Mercury.  Venus is rather more distant, but may be comparable
in brightness to the comet.  The comet will be visible in the SOHO and
STEREO coronagraphs from January 12 to 15, so for a real-time view see
link     After the 15th
the comet will probably only be seen by Southern Hemisphere observers,
where it may be a spectacular sight.     Location charts and the latest
information is available on the BAA Comet Section web page at

4. The opening lecture of the Irish Astronomical Association's 2007
programme will be on Wed 10 January, when Prof John Brown, Astronomer
Royal for Scotland, will give a public lecture entitled: "Black Holes
and White Rabbits". Prof Brown is also an accomplished magician, and he
really does incorporate some spectacular magic into a proper
astronomical lecture! Amazingly entertaining, as well as informative!
Not to be missed.    7.30 p.m., Lecture Room 5, Stranmillis College,
Stranmillis Road, Belfast. Admission free, including light refreshments,
and all are welcome.

5. Until 5 January, The Planetary Society is doing a special Holiday
version of the Phoenix Mars Lander Certificate: link 
(Thanks to Derek Heatly for that)

Clear skies for 2007.
Terry Moseley


Last Revised: 2007 January 3rd
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