From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Lecture, Burn-up, Big S/spot, SAN, NISSIG, Open Night, ISON, Venus, Moonfacts...

Date: 8 November 2013 02:44:19 GMT

Hi all,


1. IAA LECTURE, 13 November. Eclipse Night Double Header

  Terry Moseley will talk about solar eclipses, eclipse frequency, and past and future Irish solar eclipses.

  Dr Kate Russo will talk about the Total Solar Eclipse in her home state of Queensland exactly one year ago and her new book on that subject, and preview the eclipse trip which she is leading to the 2015 TSE in the Faeroes.  

     The lectures are 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. Satellite re-entry burn up very soon: The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite has been in its low Earth orbit for an extra two-and-a-half years on its planned mission, but will burn up in the atmosphere within the next few days, though no-one yet knows where or when. Some 25% of the 5.3m long, 1100 kg satellite is predicted to reach the Earth's surface, the rest will burn up. The satellite is in a polar orbit, so it could come down anywhere. But as about 2/'3 of the Earth is covered in water, and lots of the rest is very sparsely inhabited, the chances of anybody being hit are incredibly remote.

   Altogether, about 40 tonnes of manmade space debris reach the ground per year, but the spread and size mean the risk of an individual being struck is lower than being hit by a meteorite.



3. Large Sunspot: Active Region 1890: This is the largest sunspot seen on the Sun for a long time, and it's just about on the Central Meridian. Look on the SOHO satellite website if you don't have the knowledge or equipment to look at the Sun safely - NEVER look at it with any sort of optical equipment unless it is specifically designed for solar observing.


4. The Sky AT Night: Moore Moon Marathon: The usual team join astronomers on Blackheath to watch a lunar eclipse. Find out how everyone got on in the Moore Moon Marathon and discuss future moon missions. Broadcasts:

Fri Nov. 08 at 01:05am BBC FOUR (30 mts)

Sat Nov. 09 at 09:05am BBC 2 Northern Ireland (20 mts)

Sat Nov. 09 at 09:05am BBC Two HD (20 mts)

Sun Nov. 10 at 01:20am BBC FOUR (30 mts)


5. Treble asteroid appulse - observation chance:

During 2013 November 9-12, three asteroids (228 Agathe, 2043 Ortutay and 6426 Komurotoru) happen to pass close to one another in Taurus. In reality these objects are very well spaced apart: they just happen to lie close together when seen along our line of sight. This is an opportunity to simultaneously observe all three bodies in the same CCD/telescope field of view. The best nights are Nov 10/11 and Nov 11/12 when they will all be contained within about 22 arcminutes. The earlier night will be best of all, as the Moon will be further away and a little fainter. The apparition will be favourable as the field will be relatively high in the sky throughout most of the night - visible from 2000UT-0600UT as seen from the UK/Ireland.

   We already know the rotation period of 228 Agathe (6.484 hours) but not the periods for the other two objects. If several observers take time-series of these minor planets, we may have enough data to get 

the other two rotation rates. Another, more novel approach would be to try and detect any significant colour changes (by measuring the colour of each expressed relative to the others) during the course of a night. The minimum requirement would be to take alternative series of images (say 10 at a time) through two different filters (e.g. using V and R filters) for several hours. Very few asteroids are known to exhibit colour variation as they rotate. It would be good to discover some new ones!

   Graham Relf has posted a full chart depicting the appulse on the Computing Section webpages at:

   All three asteroids are 14th magnitude so you'll need a fairly large scope to participate effectively. For more details, or if you are planning to attempt observations then contact R Miles as below. You can also find a note on this at: Summary results of observations will be posted up alongside the note. (Adapted from email by Richard Miles: rmiles.bteeat


6. IAA Member Robert Hill Launches NISSIG: The indefatigable Robert Hill, Director of the N. Ireland Space Office, based at Armagh Planetarium, and a stalwart IAA member, has now formally launched the Northern Ireland Space Special Interest Group (NISSIG)  See, and Robert will be giving us a lecture on this topic on 22 January - NOT to be missed!


7. ARMAGH PLANETARIUM OPEN NIGHT, 12 November: For details of this free event, See Admission is free, but places must be booked by ringing 028 37523689.


8. VENUS Gets Easier to See in Evening Sky: Venus is near maximum elongation from the Sun of 47 degrees, but it's not that easy to see from our latitudes: not only is the ecliptic at the wrong angle to the horizon for us, Venus is 3 deg 11' South of the ecliptic!

 It's slowly getting higher now as it moves North towards the ecliptic, and as the ecliptic angle to the horizon improves, 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'.


9. RIA LECTURE, CORK, 12 November: The  RIA's biennial McCrea lecture will  hosted by UCC on 12 November. Venue: G10 Lecture Theatre, Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College Cork. Date: Tuesday 12 November 2013, 6 pm. 

Royal Irish Academy and University College Cork Biennial McCrea Astronomy Lecture for Science Week 2013: Are the Laws of Physics Changing? by Professor John D Barrow FRS, University of Cambridge

Abstract: Astronomers have investigated whether the laws and constants of physics are the same today as they were billions of years ago. We will look at what these high-precision observations have been telling us and see why many physicists believe that the laws of physics may be different elsewhere in the Universe.

Biography: John D Barrow is an English cosmologist, theoretical physicist and mathematician. He is currently Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society in 2003 and was awarded the Faraday Medal and Prize in 2008. He is Director of the Millennium Mathematics Project. See:



10. BCO events in Cork: See

To book for the Junior Spacecamp visit


11. COMET ISON - Latest News: Now brightening significantly; the comet is now up to about mag 8 - 8.5, moving from Leo towards Virgo. For a great recent photo see:;

  QUB astronomers make significant discovery:  Prof Alan Fitzsimmons and Dr Pedro Lacerda, QUB, (and others) report on CCD imaging of the coma of the comet using the 2.0-m Liverpool Telescope. Their results imply an increasing dust-production rate.

  Water has also now been directly detected in the comet, using the NIRSPEC spectrometer at the W. M. Keck Observatory. Based on four spectral lines, the preliminary production rate was (1.4 +/- 0.3) x 10**28

molecules/sec. (adapted from an IAU circular, per Alan Fitzsimmons.

PS. We hope that Alan will attend the next IAA lecture (see item 1) to give an update on the comet.

   There's now a major photo competition for amateurs: see

    The latest images are posted at  and a recent update on the comet's status can be found here:

   More information on the Comet ISON Observation Campaign website at

   Also see:


12. 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:


13. Moon Facts: New website with facts and data about the Moon: Gary Nugent has put together a new website about the Moon: Very useful. Well done Gary.


14. 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. More details later, but mark your diaries now. The IAA is just about to formally present its programme for the events to the BBC.


15. INTERESTING WEBLINKS:  (Is 'dark sound' half of the opposite of 'white noise'?)^headlines (going out in a blaze of glory?) Drool! But it's only a 70-inch, and I've observed through a larger one! OK, it was the 72-inch Leviathan at Birr, and only briefly, but still.... (this has now launched, and is temporarily parked in Earth orbit.)^headlines^headlines (Jay gave a great lecture to the IAA in Belfast some years ago.)^headlines ('Evil' is the wrong word! It's just very hot!)^headlines (Totally amazing!)


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


17. 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