From: TerryMoselat

Date: 31 March 2011 00:58:00 GMT+01:00

Subject: IAA Lecture, COSMOS, Cosmonaut, ISS, Nanosail, BCO Events

 Hi all,


1. IAA LECTURE MEETING: "Binary Stars as Intense Gravitational Sources".  6th April, 7.30 p.m., Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Department, QUB. The next lecture in the Irish Astronomical Association Lecture Programme, will be by Dr Gavin Ramsay of Armagh Observatory. Gavin is a Senior Research Astronomer at Armagh, having previously worked at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, part of UCL. He has over 180 scientific papers to his credit, and is a leading researcher on compact and very close binary stars. Some of these are thought to be good candidates for sources of the elusive gravitational waves which are predicted by general relativity. This talk will be aimed at the non-specialist, and is sure to be a fascinating lecture.  Admission is free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome. There is free parking on the QUB site after 5.30 p.m.

  For details of all forthcoming IAA lectures and other events, see  

2. COSMOS 2010:  Cosmos is Ireland's second-longest running star party, since 1992 in fact, when it was first called the Irish Astrofest. This year it takes place over the weekend of April 1st to 3rd at Annaharvey, Tullamore. The programme is now complete, with some interesting new speakers: See  for more details.

3. COSMONAUT TO LECTURE IN DCU: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) in conjunction with DCU and the Russian Alliance non-profit organisation, with the support of the Russian Embassy Dublin, are presenting a free public lecture by Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. This presentation is titled "Expedition 23", and is about the 23rd expedition to International Space Station International expedition - Russians and Americans together.
   This event is part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's historic first manned spaceflight on April 12th, 1961. Mikhail Kornienko spent 6 months on board the International Space Station from April to September 2010 as part of the Expedition 23/24 crew, and also completed a spacewalk during this time. 
   The lecture will be in The Helix, DCU on Thursday 14th April. Doors open at 7pm. Tea/Coffee served at 7:30pm. Lecture starts at 8pm. Entry is FREE, but it is advisable to book a seat to be safe.  You can apply for tickets UP TO APRIL 5 ONLY by sending an email to cosmonaut2011at stating how many tickets you want AND the names of ALL the people you want the tickets for (names are required for insurance purposes and seating.) After April 5, you MUST use The Helix's own booking system.

4. The ISS continues a series of good morning passes over Ireland. If you check the details for your location on, you may find some passes that coincide, or nearly so, with passes of Nanosail-D - see below. A nice touch for the Nanosail photo competition would be to capture both satellites in the same shot, but I think that the chances of getting both at the same time, in the same field of view, would be quite low. Still, check it out - you never know.

5. NANOSAIL-D: NASA's first Earth-orbiting solar sail, NanoSail-D, is circling our planet and attracting the attention of sky watchers. Occasionally, sunlight glinting from the sail's reflective fabric produces a flash of light in the night sky. These "solar sail flares" are expected to grow brighter as NanoSail-D descends in the weeks ahead.  A series of morning passes continues, some of which are quite favourable. Details of passes for your own location are on
NASA has formed a partnership with to engage the amateur astronomy community to submit the best images of the orbiting NanoSail-D solar sail. NanoSail-D unfurled the first ever 100-square-foot solar sail in low-Earth orbit on Jan. 20.
   To encourage observations of NanoSail-D, is offering prizes for the best images of this historic, pioneering spacecraft in the amounts of $500 (grand prize), $300 (first prize) and $100 (second prize).
   The contest is open to all types of images, including, but not limited to, telescopic captures of the sail to simple widefield camera shots of solar sail flares. If NanoSail-D is in the field of view, the image is eligible for judging.
   The solar sail is about the size of a large tent. It will be observable for approximately 70 to 120 days before it enters the atmosphere and disintegrates. The contest continues until NanoSail-D re-enters Earth's atmosphere.
   NanoSail-D will be a target of interest to both novice and veteran sky watchers. Experienced astrophotographers will want to take the first-ever telescopic pictures of a solar sail unfurled in space.  Backyard stargazers, meanwhile, will marvel at the solar sail flares
-- brief but intense flashes of light caused by sunlight glinting harmlessly from the surface of the sail.
   NanoSail-D could be five to 10 times as bright as the planet Venus, especially later in the mission when the sail descends to lower orbits.
6. Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork:  The varied and interesting programme of events at BCO continues in April: See for details, or ring (+353) (21) 4357917 for more information.


7. JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is now even easier: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA.  See also


Clear skies, 


Terry Moseley