From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Lectures, ISON, IAA Astro & other events, book launches, Gemininds, Newgrange...

Date: 3 December 2013 00:53:24 GMT

Hi all,


1. IAA LECTURE, 11 December. Supernovae And The HST: By Dr Justyn Mound, QUB. 

   Supernovae are just about the biggest explosions in the universe, and certainly the biggest that we are ever likely to see. Not only that, but they create all the elements above iron in the periodic table, many of which, such as nickel, zinc, selenium, and iodine, are essential for human life. They are also the key element in the 'distance ladder' used in large scale astrophysics and cosmology, as they are used to measure the distance to distant galaxies and galaxy clusters.

   And it's from studying distant supernovae that scientists now believe that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, leading to the theory of 'dark energy'. In other words, it's hard to think of any other single phenomena that's more important in modern astrophysics and cosmology.

   And of course it's the amazing power of the HST which gives us the data we need on the most distant of these events. So this lecture will be a fascinating account of one of the cutting edge areas of modern astronomy.

     The lecture is free and open to all, including free refreshments. Venue: the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast, at 7.30 p.m. 

   Thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for help in hosting these lectures.


2. COMET ISON - ISNO Comet? Comet ISON may not have had the same orbit as Comet Kohoutek (1973), but they will probably go down in amateur astronomy lore as two of the most disappointing comets in our lifetimes.

   Originally billed as 'Comet of the Century' (even in 2013???), and predicted to be a brilliant naked eye object, reaching magnitude -12, and 'as bright as the Full Moon', it barely achieved naked eye visibility, especially as seen from UK/Irish latitudes. Even at perihelion it was much less bright than predicted, and could not be seen even with the Sun shielded.

   Angela and I could not see it even with 10x50 binoculars on the morning of the 25th even from an altitude of 2,200 metres in the very clear dark sky of the Mt Teide caldera on Tenerife, where it was much higher above the dawn twilight than from Ireland. We saw Mercury and Saturn shining brilliantly, and even nearby Zubenelgenubi (mag 2.7), but no comet.

   It seemed at first that a small portion may have survived perihelion, but it now seems totally defunct: see and

  If there is anything left, it's currently moving through the region of the borders of Ophiuchus, Scorpio and Libra, and for the next few days can be found below and right of Epsilon and Delta Ophiuchi. gives its position for any time and date.

    The latest images are posted at   More information on the Comet ISON Observation Campaign website at

   Also see: and,,

 and there's a post-mortem on

 *   At least there's one good aspect: not only was Comet ISON not the harbinger of doom that the Nibiru Conspiracy Theorists and their ilk were predicting: it was such a non-event that they have even more egg on their faces than usual!

 Sky at Night on Comet ISON: The 'team' including Alan Fitzsimmons (QUB) at La Palma, used Isaac Newton and Liverpool Robotic Telescope to look for and acquire data and images. Before ISON perihelion but still very good. The extended prog.(30mins) is on BBC4, Thursday 5 Dec. at 7.30. The 'short' repeat is on BBc 2, Sat. 7 Dec. (Thanks to Peter Paice for the info)

Let's find Comet ISON observational web campaign! (Japan).  A Mega-Collection of "Your Observations" from the 1st of November 2013 to the 20th of January 2014: the Japan Astronomy council is collecting Comet ISON observational information from all over the world. Participation is very simple: just drop a marker pin on the on-screen map and write your observational comment. If you take a photo of comet ISON, please upload it onto the website. When your observation information and photographs are submitted, they will be stored in our database and used to update the map. We look forward to hearing from everyone! 

For more information, follow the link: or email infoat

3. ECLIPSE BOOK LAUNCH: IAA Member Dr Kate Russo has just had her second eclipse book published! She posted this (I have edited it a bit for space): 

   "I have put together a souvenir book about the 2012 TSE from my home region of North Queensland.  This time, I used a blend of fantastic images of the eclipse and the region as well as a bit of storytelling from locals and visitors from all across the region. I'm delighted to announce that the book, TOTALITY:  The Total Solar Eclipse of 2012 in Far North Queensland is now out, and ready to order.  The book is available within Australia for $49 (including postage).  The ebook version can be downloaded for a reduced price for November only $8, after which the price increases to $18.  International pricing, ordering and full book information can be found on my website link here:

   Check it out, and do feel free to give me any feedback.  Feedback written on my website is especially appreciated.  

   Thanks to all in this wonderful international community of like minded folk who contributed and shared their photos, and a special thank you to Michael Zeiler, and Terry Moseley.   

   And would you believe, I have book three now in progress:  Transformed by the Shadow, which is the first time eclipse experience, written for eclipse virgins.  This will be next year's release. Kate"

  I can add the following totally unbiased comment - "It's a fabulous book - the pictures, often double page spreads, are amazing, and the first hand accounts really make the whole eclipse experience come alive. If you haven't already seen a TSE, you'll certainly want to do so after reading this!" TM.


4.  VENUS: Now Much Easier to See in Evening Sky: Venus is still near maximum elongation from the Sun, but it's only now becoming fairly easy to see from our latitudes, because the ecliptic lies at a very shallow angle to the W horizon in autumn evenings.  It's slowly getting higher in the evening twilight sky now and it will become easier to see in spite of the decreasing solar elongation. Look low down in the bright SW evening twilight for a bright twinkling 'star'.


5. DIAS PUBLIC LECTURE, 4 December, 6 p.m: Dark Matter: One of the greatest puzzles of our time will be discussed at a public lecture by the secretary of the Nobel committee for physics. Amazingly, we still don't know what 95% of the Universe is made of: scientists think that about 12% of the matter in the universe is “standard stuff” – made of protons and electrons, etc – but the rest is a mystery.

   This public talk, on "Solving the Puzzle of Dark Matter?" – will be given by Professor Lars Bergstrom, University of Stockholm, and secretary of the Nobel committee for physics.  

   Admission free and all are welcome.  Moore Auditorium, O’Brien Centre for science, University College Dublin. This is the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) School of Cosmic Physics 2013 statutory public lecture.  More info:

See: Image: Hubble space telescope and Chandra composite photograph with evidence of dark matter, showing two massive galaxies colliding at astonishing speeds, to form a cluster known as MACS J0025.4-1222:

*About *Professor Lars Bergström:


6. IAA OBSERVING NIGHTS: The next observing nights, at Delamont Country Park, will be on December 6-7, weather permitting. see the IAA website for updates:

7. Supper with the Stars at Oxford Island 7 December: The IAA will be partnering the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre (LNDC) at Oxford Island, near Lurgan, to offer another one of their very successful "Supper With The Stars" evenings. We'll have the usual formula: telescopes for observing if clear, and on display if cloudy. And we'll also have shows in the Stardome, on loan once again from Armagh Planetarium, thanks to Director Tom Mason. Plus lots of other attractions. Tickets must be booked in advance direct with LNDC., E: oxford.islandat, Tel: (028) 3832 2205. More details in next bulletin.


8. IAA at Silent Valley, Mourne Mountains, 8 December: Then we're off to a new location: the dark and unpolluted skies on the South side of the Mourne Mountains for an evening of observing (if clear), and talks and other activities. More details on that in the next bulletin.


9. TYRONE ASTRONOMY EVENT, Stewartstown, 10 January"Journey through Space" will be held in St Patrick's Church, Ballyclog, 125 Coagh Road, Stewartstown, Co Tyrone. Dr Patrick Harkness is an IAA member who lecturers in Space Systems at the Univ. of Glasgow. The central theme of his talk is "Gravity" and it will be accessible rocket science. We are trying to stimulate interest in science and technology in the local community. Details and booking at: <ballyclog.spaceat>


10. Book Launch: Armagh Public Library, 7.30pm, 11 December: "A Mystic Dream of 4"

    The Armagh Observatory and Armagh Public Library are co-hosting the launch of a new book "A Mystic Dream of 4" by Professor Iggy McGovern, in the Armagh Public Library, 43 Abbey Street, Armagh.

Prof Iggy McGovern is a poet and Emeritus Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin.  His previous publications include "The King of Suburbia" (Dedalus Press, 2005), and "Safe House" (Dedalus Press, 2010).  He also edited the anthology 2012 "Twenty Irish Poets Respond to Science in Twelve Lines" (Dedalus Press, 2012).

   "A Mystic Dream of 4" is a sonnet sequence based on the life and times of William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865), one of the foremost mathematicians of the nineteenth century and the inventor of Quaternions, a number system which extends the complex numbers.  Today Hamilton's name is perpetuated in

the 'Hamilton' of Hamiltonian Dynamics and, in quantum mechanics, of the Schroedinger Equation.  Iggy McGovern's sonnet sequence spans the life and times of this remarkable Irishman, ranging from the aftermath of events at the end of the eighteenth century through the Great Famine and beyond.  The

sequence consists of 64 sonnets, mainly in the voices of relatives, colleagues and friends of Hamilton, who tell the story of Hamilton's life and reflect the mores of the times.

   For further information, please contact the Armagh Public Library by E-mail

at adminat or by telephone at 028-3752-3142.



11. ISS Evening Passes. The International Space Station will commence a new series of evening passes over Ireland on Dec 11: Details on


12. GEMINIDS: The Geminids, the year's richest annual meteor shower, will peak on Dec 13-14, but starts to become active about 8-9 Dec. Oddly, the orbit of the meteors was found to coincide with that of asteroid 3200 Phaethon, rather than a comet as in the case of other meteor showers. Now the mystery unfolds a bit more: "Asteroid comet" 3200 Phaethon has sprouted a tail, confirming that the mysterious object is indeed the source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. See: and: More details on the shower next time.


13. December events at BCO, CORK: See  for details, especially for their 'First Friday' events, and their Junior Space Camp  with a Jolly Christmas twist, where young ones can make a sparkly snowflake and Santastic snowglobe to take home! December 7 and 21 from 12:00-13:30.

     ALSO: A 6 month internship to work with Cork’s Space for Science (Ireland). CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory ( is a non-profit visitor centre that is home to a working research observatory, space science exhibit and workshop programme. The facility also operates a dynamic outreach agenda. We are looking for someone with a passion for science and astronomy to work with us on maintaining and increasing our online presence. You will have responsibility for the general running of the social media platforms from creating and uploading content on a regular basis to developing and managing digital and social media campaigns. More information at


14. Congratulations to Dr Pedro Lacerda.

 Dr Pedro Lacerda has now been appointed Max Planck Group Leader in Cometary Science at Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, in Germany. Pedro, who was at QUB, is well known to IAA members, not just for his excellent lectures, but for his welcome contributions to our IAA / BBC Stargazing Live events. Well done Pedro!



15. A Final Reminder: IAA subscription renewals are now overdue, so if you haven't renewed, you won't get a copy of the next issue of our superb magazine STARDUST! See item 21 below for an easy way to pay, or simply contact the Membership secretary Mr Philip Baxter at iaaphilat, (or the Treasurer Mrs Josephine Magill at jo_magillat Remember to tick the 'Gift Aid' box if you are a UK taxpayer, so we can reclaim the tax from the Inland Revenue! It costs you nothing, but is a great bonus to the IAA.


16. STARGAZING LIVE returns on 7 - 9 January 2014, at Cultra. The IAA has once again been asked to be principal partner with the BBC for this prestigious event. The main local event will be at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra. Mark your diaries now. The IAA has now formally presented its programme for the events to the BBC, and we are finalising arrangements with them.


17. INTERESTING WEBLINKS:  They should try onions. They go well with cheese..... (it depends what you mean by 'soon'. Maybe in the next millennium, if at all....)^headlines^headlines



18. Advance Notice: Trip to Newgrange: Mar 29, 2014: 09.30 – 17.00: I will be leading an astronomy /archaeoastronomy trip to Newgrange, as part of the Stranmillis Adult Learning programme. A day long coach trip, with full commentary. More details later, but mark the date now if you are interested. Booking is through Stranmillis College.


19. Advance Notice: STFC Roadshow at QUB, 19 - 25 May. The roadshow, entitled "Seeing the Universe in all its light" features stunning science images and interactive exhibits, including:

The Science & Technology Facilities Council's latest touring exhibition is encouraging everyone to see the Universe in all its light – showcasing the Big Telescopes family in all their glory and focusing on both the UK’s scientific expertise and the economic benefits that astronomy can deliver.

   The roadshow features stunning science images alongside a range of interactive exhibits. Visitors will be able to experience a replica of English astronomer Thomas Harriot's first telescope, as well as a range of historical scientific papers from the Royal Astronomy Society and the Thomas Harriot Trust.

   There will be young scientists on hand from UK university astronomy departments to enthuse about the work they do and answer questions on any aspect of astronomy. They'll be able to guide visitors around scale models of the Big Telescopes – ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the Atacama Large Millimetre Array, the Herschel Space Observatory and the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

   Hands-on exhibits aim to explain the importance of building telescopes across the whole range of wavelengths, so that we really can see the Universe in all its light. An interactive control desk provides details on the full spectra of wavelengths used by astronomers, and visitors will be able to learn more about seeing the invisible, micro autonomous robots and the adaptive optics that are essential for telescopes but are also proving invaluable in more down-to-earth applications such as cancer screening.

  Check the `Seeing the Universe in All its Light’ webpage 


20. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter:  at signIaaAstro


21. NEW LINK! JOINING the IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION is easy: This link downloads a Word document to join the IAA.

    If you are a UK taxpayer, please tick the 'gift-aid' box, as that enables us to reclaim the standard rate of tax on your subscription, at no cost to youYou can also make a donation via Paypal if you wish: just click on the 'Donate' button.  See also


Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

mob: (0044) (0) 7979 300842

I'm now back on Twitter (occasionally - I don't have enough time!), after some temporary hiccups: at signterrymoseley2