From: TerryMoselat

Date: 27 February 2009 01:37:57 GMT

Subject: IAA lecture, Comet, Conjunction, BCO Events, Odd eclipse, TV, Books, Edinburgh

Hi all,


IAA LECTURE: The next public lecture by the Irish Astronomical Association will be on Wed 4 March, at 7.30 p.m. in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB, by Kevin Nolan. Entitled "Mars, the Cosmic Stepping Stone", it will be based on his excellent new book of that title, just recently published. Kevin is the representative of The Planetary Society in Ireland, and lectures in astronomy and Physics at ITT in Dublin.

Admission is free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome. 

   Free parking is available on the main campus, beside the lecture theatre, in the evenings - entrance via University Square.

   The IAA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Astrophysics and Planetary Science Division of the Department of Physics, QUB, in sponsoring these lectures.


CONJUNCTION: The crescent Moon and Venus are converging for a lovely conjunction on Friday evening, Feb. 27th. A great photo opportunity.


BCO Events for IYA 2009: Here’s a link to the Blackrock Castle Observatory programme from February to July giving the picture from BCO for the first 6 months. Highlights are below. See

Cosmic Chaos! Blackrock Castle Observatory celebrates the International Year of Astronomy 2009

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) launched 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) under the theme, The Universe, Yours to Discover. IYA2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the first astronomical observation through a telescope by Galileo Galilei.

The Cork Institute of Technology manages Blackrock Castle Observatory and the facility is open 362 days with expected throughput of 50,000 visitors in 2009 confirming BCO as the premier public astronomy centre in the country.



 6-8pm Hands on Crafts: Design & Build a Martian Landing Craft in the Classroom. (ages 6 to 12)

 8pm Lecture: ‘Mars; A Cosmic Stepping Stone’ Kevin Nolan I.T. Tallaght and author of ‘Mars: A Cosmic Stepping Stone’.  Kevin Nolan gives the first public lecture celebrating his new book “Mars, A Cosmic Stepping Stone”. The book (and lecture at BCO) reveals how current exploration of Mars may soon play a role in helping uncover the origin of life on Earth and its cosmic abundance.

6-9.30 pm Viewing: Expert astronomers at Blackrock Castle Observatory and members of the Cork Astronomy Club will have telescopes in the Courtyard and are on hand to guide visitors in observing the night sky. The exhibit Cosmos at the Castle will be open late and free to the public. Bookings are now been taken for the free First Friday events on March 6th.

    Members will have priority for these and all other events at BCO. Theatre capacity is 50 and Mars Lander workshops are for max. 25 so early booking is advised. No booking is required for observing sessions


Astronomers and Story Tellers will narrate myths and legends of the skies bringing children and teachers into contact with the idea of our shared Multiverse through the StarDome, a portable planetarium. These events take place at Grand Parade Cork City Library from March 10th as part of the Year of the Constant Reader. Bookings through Cork City Library.

Saturdays from February 28th – April 4th 4.00-5.15pm

Astrophotography and Astronomy Theory Workshops.

Facilitated by local astronomer Dennis Walsh.

Classroom Sessions at BCO. €40 for 5 weeks. Limited Capacity.

Classes will be linked to observing sessions at First Fridays at the Castle.

Remember members enjoy a 10% discount on all BCO programmes!


Cork City Council has teamed up with BCO to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Astronomy. The theme of this year’s parade fittingly is Cosmic Chaos. Come along and join in the fun!

    We are delighted to welcome back to Cork Dan Tani, NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer for the International Space Station. Dan Tani will be Grand Marshal at the Parade and will officially open the exhibit Capture the Cosmos on Saturday March 14th at Millennium Hall.

    From Saturday 14 to Saturday 21 March, Capture the Cosmos, an exhibition of Cork schoolchildren’s astronomical prints will hang in City Hall. Capture the Cosmos is a Cork City Council Arts Office & Community & Enterprise Project for the Cork St. Patrick’s Festival in partnership with Cork Printmakers and Blackrock Castle Observatory and forms a key part of Cork’s celebration of International Year of Astronomy 2009.

    The Universe is a place of wonder and imagination for children.  Capture the Cosmos combines the knowledge of astronomers, the creative language of artist printmakers, and the facilities of Blackrock Castle Observatory and of Cork Printmakers to allow young school children to explore the fascinating expanse of the cosmos and express this new learning through artist-led printmaking workshops.

   This project has enabled children from four schools across the city to experience astronomy at Blackrock Castle Observatory and through the StarDome and to learn different printmaking processes in their classroom, facilitated by Cork Printmakers. Through their work with the artists and astronomers, the children have created their own images of the universe. Each pupil who participated in the project will have one of their artworks exhibited in City Hall during the St Patrick’s Festival celebrations 2009.

    Each child donated one artwork which will be on sale with the proceeds going to UNAWE (Universal Awareness for Young Children). This is an international outreach activity that uses the beauty and grandeur of the universe to inspire very young disadvantaged children. The organization illustrates the multicultural origins of modern astronomy in an effort to broaden children’s minds, awaken their curiosity in science and stimulate global citizenship and tolerance.

   Earth Hour - March 28 2009. 20.30hrs …Can You See the Stars?

    How can EarthHour inspire people to take action on climate change? For one hour, one night EarthHour asks the whole world to turn out the lights.

    Already 538 cities in 75 countries which is double the number of countries that participated in 2008, are committed. With hundreds more cities expected to sign up to switch off in the coming month, Earth Hour 2009 is setting the platform for an unprecedented global mandate for action on climate change.

   Blackrock Castle Observatory will host star counts and observing sessions with telescopes in the courtyard of BCO during the clear sky nights of the week preceding Earth Hour as part of the Globe at Night 2009 from 16-28 March 2009 Come and meet NASA astronaut Dan Tani our guest Star Counter during the Globe at Night events.

 2008 marked a monumental shift in human history when the number of people living in cities exceeded half the people on Earth. Because of the ambient light of urban landscapes, many city dwellers have never seen a sky full of stars.

   Earth Hour will be the highlight celebration of the Globe at Night star count in Orion.

   The restaurant will serve by candle light and there will be musical entertainment powered by alternative energy sources. Local councillors are in support of efforts to turn off the adjacent street lights.

  An international exhibition of astronomical drawings, In the Footsteps of Galileo, curated by Deirdre Kelleghan, President of the Irish Astronomical Society will hang in the 16th century Castle until late June before beginning an Irish tour including shows in Birr Castle and Dunsink Observatory. It features 2 previously unseen works by the eminent astronomer, writer and TV presenter Sir Patrick Moore.  


Clair McSweeney                                          Tel 021-4357917

Facilities Manager                                        clairmcsweeneyat

Blackrock Castle Observatory           

About Blackrock Castle Observatory:  Cosmos at the Castle is a joint venture between Cork City Council and Cork Institute of Technology. The Castle now houses Ireland's foremost Astronomical Research Facility and a team of scientists working on new technologies for searching for planets around distant stars. The state of the art exhibition highlights recent discoveries of extreme life forms on Earth and their implications for life in space and invites interactive debate on mankind's ultimate place in the Universe. A gallery of cinema sized, high-definition, digital video screens with proximity sensors allow visitors to interact with the process of the evolution of the entire Universe and of life on Earth.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 am to 5 pm; Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 11 am to 5 pm. Admission: €6 adults, €4 concession, €16 family ticket.



For the first time, a spacecraft from Earth has captured high-res video of a solar eclipse while orbiting another world.

COMET LULIN: Plagued by cloud recently, we may still get a chance to see Comet 2007 N3 (Lulin) which is now visible in the evening sky, and reached opposition on the 26th. It should be visible to the naked eye at around 5th magnitude, and a telescope will show its rather unusual tail.  The comet has a retrograde orbit, with an inclination of 178 degrees, which
means that it moves nearly parallel to the ecliptic, but 'backwards'.  The gas tail will be pointing directly away from us and thus hard to see, but the dust tail is a broad fan lying in the plane of the comet's orbit, so both the tail and anti-tail should be visible.  The geometry also means that the comet's brightness will be enhanced around the time of opposition due to the small angle between the Sun, comet and the Earth. The comet has a green coma, due to emission of light from the Swann bands of carbon, and from cyanogen.  Those with sensitive colour vision may see the colour through a telescope, but others will only see a white glow.
   Now is the best time to observe it as the moon will start to interfere with observations after the end of the month.  Currently in Leo, it is moving rapidly while near opposition.  After opposition it will fade quickly and by the time the moon is out of the way in mid March
the comet will have faded by two magnitudes.  However, it will by then be high in the sky in Gemini.

TV PROGRAMME, KECK: BBC2, Sunday, 1 March. 8.10 Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections. Deep Space Observatory: Keck, Hawaii. From a mountain top in Hawaii, the Keck Observatory has seen further into the universe than any other telescope. The Top Gear presenter explores the technology behind its power. Director/Producer Nick Metcalfe Rptd tomorrow at 7pm (S) (AD) 99Z7T2. Photo gallery:

(Thanks to Peter Millar for that info)

ARMAGH PLANETARIUM BOOKS: Contact Anna McNally for details of some new astronomy books now available: annaat

EDINBURGH SCIENCE FESTIVAL: Prof John Brown has asked me to pass on these details: 

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley