From: TerryMoselat

Date: 10 February 2010 01:15:27 GMT

Subject: Lecture, Fireball latest, Galway Star Party, Water on Europa


1. NEXT IAA LECTURE, 10 February:  The next of the Irish Astronomical Association's public lectures will be given by Prof. Stephen Smartt, of Queen's University Belfast. 

   His talk is entitled "Supernovae: the latest findings", and promises to be a fascinating subject. Prof. Smartt is a renowned expert on this subject, so we're sure of a fascinating talk.  It's on WEDNESDAY 10 February, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome! Full details of the rest of the programme are on the website:


2. BRIGHT FIREBALL OVER IRELAND - LATEST: I've received scores and scores of reports on the very bright fireball which was seen over a large part of Ireland on Wednesday 3rd, at about 6 p.m. Thanks to all who sent them, or forwarded them.

   Reports have been received from all over the country, from Cork and Kerry to Sligo, Fermanagh, Tyrone, L/Derry and Donegal, and from Dublin to Clare.

   Latest indications are that any possible meteorite fall would have been in the Northwest - possibly Donegal, West Co L/derry, West Tyrone, or maybe in the sea

    Since there is a possibility of a meteorite fall, the more detail we have, the better chance we have of finding it. If you saw it, or know anyone who did, please send in as much detail as possible, preferably including your best estimates of as many of the following as possible:

Exact Time

Your Location

Direction you were facing

Direction the fireball moved (e.g. Left to Right, if you know what direction you were facing) or NE to SW, or S to N, etc)

Height of the fireball above your horizon at start, highest point, and end of its visibility. You can estimate that in degrees if you have the experience, where 0 degrees is the horizon and 90 degrees is overhead. Otherwise, say something like 'halfway (or quarter way, or whatever) from the horizon to the zenith (overhead point)

How bright was it, compared to a full moon?

For how long was it visible, in seconds?

How far across the sky did you see it travel - e.g. halfway? quarter way? Less? More?

Did you hear any sounds, like bangs, or pops, or crackling?

Did you see it break up, or any pieces fall off it?

Did you see it fade away to nothing, or did you see it disappear behind a building, or tree, or hill etc?



3.    GALWAY STAR PARTY: 12-13 February.

ROUTE: The whole of the route from Dublin to Galway (N4/M4/N6) is now motorway or dual carriageway from near Heuston Station in Dublin to the Galway Ring Road, so for intending visitors from Belfast, Co Antrim or Co Down, the easiest way to get there would be via the M1 to Dublin, round the M50, and then along the N4/M4/N6. This would not be the shortest way, but it could well be the quickest, and certainly the simplest. But it involves three tolls! €1.90 on the M1, about €2.50 on the M50, depending on how and when you pay (it's electronic tolling there now!), and a hefty €2.90 on the M4!

  If it's your first trip along there in recent times, watch out for the fork in the motorways near Kinnegad! You need to be in the left lane, and fork off to the left for Galway, otherwise you'll find yourself on the way to Mullingar!

   Also, if you're going from the M1 onto the M50 Southbound (i.e round towards the N3, N4, N7 etc), there's a direct offslip/onslip connection from one to the other - watch out for the lane signs as you filter off the M1.



Friday February 12th Westwood House Hotel 7.30pm

7.30pm     Philip Walsh: “The Drake Equation”

    Philip Walsh is an amateur astronomer who been interested in the subject for many years and is a committee member of the Galway astronomy club. Is the Universe teeming with life, is life comparatively rare or are we totally alone in the heavens? These and other questions are explored in this talk which draws on many fields including microbiology, geology and history to identify some of the main factors necessary for communicable civilisations to evolve.

8.10pm  Professor Paul Mohr: “Cassini, Meridiani, nodding Ecliptic”

    Paul Mohr was born in England in 1931 and was educated at Manchester University. In 1957 he established the Department of Geology at Addis Ababa University, in 1977 he was appointed Professor of Geology at NUI Galway and retired in 1996. The inspiration for his talk comes from an American science Historian, Professor John Heilbron’s new book.

Subtitled' Cathedrals as Solar Observatories' it concerns a period of major astronomical advance, in post-Galilean Italy. The ‘nodding ecliptic’ refers to the discovery that the angle between the celestial equator and the ecliptic was found to be changing by an exceedingly

minute but measurable amount.

9.30pm-1am: Observing at Brigit's Garden

Speakers: Saturday February 13th

09.20am - 09.50am: Registration

Admission:  Adult  €30; Students / GAC Members €20; U18/OAP  Free

10.00am. Dr Aaron Golden NUI Galway: “Has Earth Contaminated the Solar System?

– the Case for Life on Mars”

   Aaron Golden is a lecturer in the IT Dept. of NUI Galway. He has degrees in Experimental Physics, Computational Science and Astrophysics and is a well known speaker on the Irish Astronomical scene. His talk will outline the story to date on the search for life on Mars. He will explore the problem from an astrobiological perspective, arguing that the likelihood is that any life that we do eventually detect will probably be a distant relative of ours...

10.50am. Dr Vitaly Neustroev NUI Galway: "Amateur Astronomers and Cataclysmic Variables"

   Vitaly Neustroev is a native of Russia, an amateur astronomer and scientist at the Centre of Astronomy at NUI Galway. Amateur Astronomers in organisations devoted to variable star observation such as the Irish Variable Star Observers Group use photometry help to keep

track of what is going on and by doing so are doing what the professional astronomers cannot do.

11.40am. Alastair Mc Kinstry NUI Galway: "Extra Solar Planets: Climates and Atmospheres"

   Alastair McKinstry studied at Trinity College Dublin where he gained a B.A. in Experimental Physics and is currently working on a PhD modelling Exo-planetary formation & climates at NUI Galway. his talk describes what type of Exo Planets have been discovered, how their atmospheres differ from our solar ones, what they teach us about our

own climate, and what we expect to do next over the coming decade.

2.00pm. Dr Neal Trappe NUI Maynooth: "ALMA: Exploring the Cold Universe and

Cosmic Origins"

   Neal Trappe graduated with a B.Sc. in Applied Physics from the University of Limerick in 1998. He completed a PhD in long wavelength optical analysis techniques at NUI Maynooth in January 2002. Currently he is employed there as a Lecturer in the Experimental Physics

Department. His talk will look at ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre Array) being commissioned in Chile. ALMA is the most powerful telescope for observing the cool Universe — molecular gas and dust as well as the relic radiation of the Big Bang.

2.50pm. Dr Deirdre Coffey “Investigating Protostellar Jets with the Hubble Space Telescope after Service Mission 4”

    Deirdre Coffey is currently employed at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and she researches in the area of jets from x-ray binaries, pulsars, symbiotic stars and planetary nebulae; active galactic nuclei jets associated with quasars, blazers and gamma ray

bursts. She will discuss how her work with the Hubble Space Telescope has advanced our understanding of how protostellar jets come about.

4.00pm. Brian Harvey “The Asian Space Race”

   Brian Harvey is a writer and broadcaster on spaceflight and has written histories of the Russian, Chinese, European, Japanese and Indian space programmes. In the past three years, China, Japan and India have sent their first spaceships to orbit the moon, sparking off

what is called the 'Asian space race'. His talk will look at how the three Asian nations developed their space program's, the visions of their founders, the distinctive characteristics of each program and where each may go in the future.

4.50pm. Professor Alan Smith, Director University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory “Space Science – the next 20 years”

    Alan gained his PhD from Leicester University in 1978. He then went on to help develop the medium energy x-ray detectors for the ESA EXOSAT mission and joined ESA as a staff scientist in 1983. n 1990 Alan joined UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory where he became Director in 2005. He is also head of a consortium for a UK-led mission entitled

”MOONLITE” to the Moon that will place four penetrates in the lunar surface in order to make geochemical and geophysical measurements. At the moment the major space agencies are formulating their ambitious plans for future space missions, for instance, the European Space

Agency is presently down-selecting its Cosmic Vision program. Alan will provide a status report, describing key future missions and their scientific context and aspirations.

6.00pm: Tour of NUI Galway Telescopic/Radio Observatory

7.30pm: Annual Festival Dinner in Hotel (informal)

8.15pm: Terry Moseley: “Adventures with Heavenly Bodies”

   Terry Moseley has been active in astronomy for over 40 years and is one of Ireland’s most popular Amateur Astronomers. His evening talk will be an account of his of some of the most interesting, scary & funny moments that have happened to him over the four decades that he

has enjoyed as an amateur astronomer 

10.00-2am: Observing at Brigit's Garden or Table Quiz

Stands and Exhibition:

Galway Astronomy Club in association with the French Embassy

1. Galway Astronomy Club in association with the French Embassy "Exploring the Universe, our next steps"

2. Centre for Astronomy, NUI Galway: The Universe in 3-D

3. Irish Variable Star Observers Group

4. Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies

5. Michael O’Connell Astrophotography TBC

6. North Down Telescopes.

7. John Flannery SDAS Astronomy Book Sale



4. Nasa scientists have discovered new evidence that life might exist elsewhere within in our solar system after finding liquid water under the surface of the Saturn moon of Enceladus.

    The Cassini spacecraft flew through icy clouds created by ice volcanoes detecting negatively charged water molecules. The presence of the ions indicates that a liquid sea exists beneath the frozen surface of the moon.

   This type of short-lived ion is produced on Earth where there is moving water; such as crashing waves, waterfalls or tidal lakes.

    High-resolution images taken by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft have show that the surface of Saturn's sixth largest moon has a similar spreading surface to that of Earth.

    The moon's similar geology to that of the Earth could mean molten rock activity gives rise to the possibility of warm deep sea vents. These vents would prevent any liquid water from freezing and could sustain different forms of life.

    Whilst the existence of liquid water might not be a big surprise to scientists; the detection of short-lived ions and carbon all help point to the possibility of life.

    Dr Andrew Coates, from University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory explains: "Where there's water, carbon and energy, some of the major ingredients for life are present. "The surprise for us was to look at the mass of these ions. There were several peaks in the spectrum, and when we analysed them we saw the effect of water molecules clustering together one after the other."

    The only other body in the solar system so far, apart from Earth and Enceladus, where the negatively charged ions have been detected is on Saturn's other moon of Titan." (From AOL News). 


Clear Skies,


Terry Moseley