From: TerryMoselat

Subject: 2 Astro Events, Lectures, Book Launches, Venus, ISS, Geminids, Xmas Star, S-L...

Date: 7 December 2013 01:54:11 GMT

Hi all,


1. 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.

ALL IAA MEMBERS with portable telescopes are invited to bring them along for this event.

    We'll have the usual formula: telescopes for observing if clear, and on display if cloudy. There will be a lovely crescent Moon sinking in the West (so don't be late or you'll miss it), and brilliant Jupiter with its four giant Galilean Moons rising in the East in the mid-evening.

    As a bonus, if its clear we'll see both a transit and shadow transit of Io, the innermost Moon.

 As well, as that, there will be superb views of the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, plus glorious Orion, and lots lots more (weather permitting). 

    And we'll also have shows in the Stardome, on loan once again from Armagh Planetarium, thanks to Director Tom Mason. Plus meteorites on display, a chance to meet prospective 'Ulsternaut' Derek Heatly, and lots of other attractions. 

  And if you, or someone you know, has a telescope that they're having trouble using, bring it along & we'll do what we can to help.

   The optional meal starts at 6.30, and the rest of the event at 7.15.

   Tickets must be booked in advance direct with LNDC., E: oxford.islandat, Tel: (028) 3832 2205. 


2. IAA at Silent Valley, Mourne Mountains, 8 December, 6.30 pm: 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.

   The treats on offer there will include VERY dark skies, and an even more spectacular Moon, although it won't be possible to have the Stardome, or Derek Heatly. Instead, there will be illustrated talks on the night sky, what you can see, and what it's all about, and all the other fascinating items mentioned in item 1, except that instead of a transit of Io, we will see it reappear from occultation behind Jupiter.

  This event will start at 6.30 p.m.

ALL IAA MEMBERS with portable telescopes are invited to bring them along for this event.  Free light refreshments will be available for all IAA members who bring telescopes or are speaking at this event: if you will be bringing a telescope, let me know so we can advise them of numbers.


3. IAA LECTURE, 11 December. Supernovae And The HST: By Dr Justyn Maund, 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.


4. 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.


5.  VENUS: Visible in Evening Sky: Venus is now at about its easiest to see from Ireland for this elongation.  It's slowly getting higher in the evening twilight sky, but is gradually getting closer to the Sun. So it's a trade-off between altitude and its decreasing solar elongation. Look low down in the bright SW evening twilight for a bright twinkling 'star'.


6. 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.



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


8. 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.



9.  MYSTERY OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR, Armagh Planetarium: Monday – Friday at 2pm, Saturday at 12noon, 2pm and 4pm

Evening shows every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3-19 December at 7:30pm. For more information on show times please visit the website at Tel - 028 3752 3689


10. 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.


11. 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>


12. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: Opportunity may soon break the record.^headlines 

This is rubbish - missiles would take days to make the journey from Moon to Earth, giving plenty of time to intercept them.

   And a laser would be very dispersed and dissipated by the time it travelled that distance. Also, a laser could only be used to hit a target while the Moon was fairly high above the horizon as seen from the target, which would only happen for between 2 and 8 hours per day, depending on the latitude of the target and the declination of the Moon.

   In fact for some of the American missile & aircraft bases in the Arctic region, there are times when the Moon never rises above the horizon at all for several days at a time. And then there's the problem of cloud....

   Whoever wrote this has been reading too much SF. Fantastic quality images! and They should each carry a little battery operated fan for this eventuality.



13. 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.


14. 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 


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


16. 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