From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Lectures, Orionids, Meterorites, Fireballs, ISS, ISON, KillerAsteroid? CERN, etc

Date: 21 October 2013 16:58:32 BST


Hi all,


1. IAA LECTURE, 30 October. Dr Andy McCrea, IAA. " Aurorae and Astronauts".

 Well known amateur astronomer, astro-imager, past IAA President, and proprietor of North Down Telescopes, Dr Andy McCrea will give the next lecture, based on his recent highly successful aurora hunting trip to Iceland, and his similarly successful astronaut-hunting exploits (only with cameras & an autograph book!). Andy will reveal all about aurorae, what causes them, where and how to see them and image them.  

     The lecture is free and open to all, including free refreshments. It will be held in 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. ORIONID METEORS PEAK TONIGHT: The Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. The shower should peak on the night of Oct. 21 with a ZHR of approximately 20 meteors per hour.  But the bright moon in nearby Taurus will reduce the number seen to only about 60% od that rate. The best time to look is during the hours before local sunrise when the shower's radiant in the constellation Orion is high in the sky.  The radiant is in the NE corner of Orion, not far from the 'feet' of Gemini.


3. Irish Astronomical Society talk on October 21st:  Dr Masha Chernyakova (DCU) will give a talk entitled "Puzzling Gamma-Ray Binaries: Theory and Observation". See for details.    


4. ULSTER MUSEUM's METEORITE DAY: Sat 2 November, 13.00 - 16.00 Your chance to learn about rocks from space, and handle several examples. See the largest meteorite ever known to fall in the UK or Ireland, and a piece of the recent Russian Fireball Chelyabinsk meteorite. See



   Can anyone comment on the fourth image in this article, by Byron Griffiths - why is the trail interrupted? There doesn't seem to be any sign of cloud there. There might be something very thin, but in that case the bright fireball should still be visible, even faintly, through it. In fact, you CAN see the trail even where it passes through a band of thicker cloud lower down (or maybe it's just 'bleeding' across the pixels).

    This is only my speculation, and from a limited knowledge of the science, but to try to explain the gap in the trail -

* A meteor's visible trail is due to ionisation of the air molecules, and

* An aurora is caused by ionisation of the air molecules.

So could the gap in the trail be due to the bolide passing through a layer of the atmosphere where it was already ionised, and no further ionisation was possible?



6.  ISS: the ISS continues a series of evening passes over Ireland. For details for your location, see:  


7. COMET ISON - LATEST: Now brightening significantly; it's now up to about mag 10, so there is still hope.^headlines

and for a bit of fun: Indeed, as I predicted when ISON was first discovered, there's now the usual nonsense on the Web about it being the new 'Nibiru', since Comet Elenin wasn't!


8. ANOTHER KILLER ASTEROID? Well, no, it won't be. The chances of a collision are estimated at 1:63,000. But even if later observations indicate that it would hit Earth, we'll have tome to deflect it. Still, it shows that there are still dangerous ones out there, and if one was on a collision course with only a few years warning, we might not be able to deflect it in time. (ignore the fact that the image is of a comet!)



9. CERN exhibition at UCD:  The new Science Centre at University College Dublin hosts an exhibition about CERN from now to Oct 28th. The exhibition is self-guided and open to the public 9am to 9pm on weekdays. A guided tour can be arranged with the faculty in UCD beforehand though. See for details.



10. "The Life of Galileo" -- November 8th to 10th, at 7:30pm.  As part of the lead up to Science Week, Brecht's "The Life of Galileo" will be staged by the Greenwood Theatre Company in Dunsink Observatory in a specially adapted version by David Hare. As the observatory is over 200 years old, it seems like the perfect venue in which to set the play. Most of the performance will be staged in the Meridian Room where "Dublin Time" was kept but the audience will have the chance to move into the South Dome (with its large Victorian Grubb Telescope) and the Solar System Room for a number of scenes. Seating is very limited for the 3 performances and tickets (15 euro) can be booked through the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies website by following the links to the "The Life of Galileo".  See for details.


11. 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:


12. The website for the new Space Science Technology qualification being piloted in Northern Ireland is now live at: 

Support materials are in the pipeline. (Per Robert Hill, who is driving this welcome initiative.)


13. Galway Star Party. 1 February 2014.

“City of Stars" is the theme for the 2014 Galway Astronomy Festival which takes place on February 1st at the Westwood House Hotel with an emphasis on how exploration of the Cosmos has inspired communities and cultures in our city that would not otherwise do so, to think about the Universe.  From its humble beginnings in January 2004 to the present day our Astronomy Festival has become Ireland’s biggest annual gathering of amateur astronomers who come here from around the country to meet in friendship and to exchange information, successful stargazing and mutual progress.

    The event will follow the same format as last year with six talks split into two sessions in the morning and evening. A new lunchtime interlude with two mini observing workshops and in the late evening we present the new Sir Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture.

1. Guy Hurst, Editor of "The Astronomer magazine" UK: "The Glory of Globular Star Clusters"

2. Dr Matt Redman, Director of Centre for Astronomy, NUI Galway: "Star formation and Star Destruction"

3. Dr Deirdre Coffey, UCD:  "Exploring the Universe: The View from Hubble and Beyond"

4. Tom O'Donaghue: "Cosmic Vistas: The Universe in Colour" 

5. Paul Mohr: "The genius of the Greek naked-eye astronomers: Measuring the Cosmos with dioptra and trigonometry

6. Michael O’Connell: "From the Big Dipper to the Southern Cross: Observing the southern sky Down Under”


7. Paul Byrne: ”Binary Stars: Double Your Pleasure - Two's Company, Three's A Triple System”

8. Brian MacGabhann, “Building a DIY solar filter for observing our nearest Star” (Talking through building a solar filter for a refractor, reflector or SCT, with a complete demo and examples of the finished product).

 Astrofest dinner 7.30 pm - Price (€25)

The Sir Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture:  Guy Hurst: "The Astronomer: The First 50 years" celebrating their Golden Jubilee 1964-201

   Since ‘The Astronomer’ was formed in 1964, there have been a remarkable series of achievements which have been published in the magazine and these highlights are given in this talk. As editor since 1975, Guy describes how it feels to be in ‘the hot seat’ when checking and hopefully confirming the many discoveries reported to TAHQ! The liaison with professionals at the Central Bureau (USA) remains a vital service by TA to filter out false alarms.



"The GAIA space mission and the origins of the Milky Way". 

   Prof Gerry Gilmore from Cambridge will give the next Michael West lecture at QUB, as a joint event between QUB and the IAA. Prof Gilmore is a lading researcher on the GAIA mission, due to launch 20th November, and an excellent speaker, so mark your diaries now!


15. STARGAZING LIVE returns on 7 - 9 January 2014. The IAA has once again been asked to be principal partner with the BBC for this prestigious event. More details later, but mark your diaries now. See:^headlines


16. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: (It doesn't specifically say so, but such a flight would probably take you into space, or at least very near it. TM) (I thought that this could only happen in the USA. But evidently the Russians are just as susceptible....)^headlines

Now YOU can cruise around the Milky Way: Amazing interactive space map lets users navigate the galaxy in incredible detail | .


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


18. 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