From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Gaia lecture, ISS, Great GSP, S/N latest, Saturn, Lofar, Meteorite event, Aliens

Date: 4 February 2014 19:36:17 GMT

Hi all,


1.  IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION/QUB ARC: Michael West Public Lecture, February 5, 7.00pm: "The Gaia space mission and the origins of the Milky Way".

NB: Note START TIME IS 7 p.m., and it will be in the LARMOR Lecture Theatre (not our usual Bell lecture theatre). The Larmor is at the other end (SW end) of the Physics Building, with a separate entrance. NB: Unless you are a member of the IAA, you must pre-register for this talk - see below.

   The Gaia mission aims to create a precise 3D map of the Milky Way. The billion stars that Gaia will map is still only one per cent of the Milky Way's total number of stars. It is Europe's successor to the Hipparcos satellite which mapped around 100,000 stars. Hipparcos was the very first mission for measuring astrometry - the positions, distances, motions, brightness and colours of stars. It is hoped Gaia will find also reveal new asteroids, dead stars, and test current theories about our cosmos. Its map will also become a reference frame to guide the investigations of future telescopes. See

   Prof Gerry Gilmore FRS is Professor of Experimental Philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy in the University of Cambridge.  He leads the effort to understand the structure and origin of our Galaxy and his team has provided us our current understanding of how the masses of stars are distributed at birth. Professor Gilmore is lead investigator on the Gaia-ESO Project.

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

   The lecture is free and open to all (but register first, unless you are an IAA member). Venue: the Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast, at 7.00 p.m.  GPS co-ordinates for the entrance to the Larmor Lecture Theatre: N 54deg 35' 0.6"; W 5deg 56'  7.7"

   See:, and links to 

   These news items may also be of interest:


   To Register:

2. ISS: The International Space Station will commence another series of evening passes over Ireland on 8 February.  It's sometimes the brightest object in the night sky, and you can get details of where and when to look on the excellent and free website


3. See Mercury: The elusive innermost planet is still fairly well-placed for observation in the evening twilight. Look low in the SSW to SW about 30 mts after local sunset. It can be surprisingly bright, but of course it doesn't look so prominent against the twilight background.  You can use binoculars to find it, but it should then be fairly easy to see without optical aid when the sky darkens a bit. It will be visible for another few days.


4. Possible Solar Flares / CMEs/ Aurorae: A large and moderately active sunspot is slowly turning toward Earth, increasing the chances of geo-effective solar activity this week. X-flare alerts are available from (text) and (voice).

5. Supernova in M82 ('Cigar Galaxy') = SN2014J - LATEST

The supernova which recently exploded in the nearby Cigar Galaxy (M82) in Ursa Major seems now to have peaked at about mag 10.4, but is still easily within reach of a small telescope. See last bulletin for details of how to find it.   


6. Saturn's Shadow: On 11 February  Saturn, visible in the early morning sky, will reach its Greatest Western Quadrature, 90º west of the Sun. At this time the shadows cast by the planet on the rings are most striking, especially this year when the rings are tilted at 23º - near their maximum angle to Earth and Sun. Saturn is in Libra, and is the brightest object between Mars and Spica to the West and red-orange Antares rising low in the Southeast


7. GALWAY ASTROFEST, 1 February, Report: Congratulations to all at Galway Astronomy Club, and in particular Ronan Newman, for their best Astrofest yet! It was a fitting celebration of their tenth star party, and everyone I spoke to said they really enjoyed it. And thanks also to all the donors for the really superb prizes they donated for the raffle - even if I didn't win any! All the details should still be at

at They had almost €2500 worth of equipment for 10th anniversary raffle! All details on our website at


8. LOFAR Colloquium UCD: Title: "LOFAR: overview, status, and early results". Speaker: Prof. Ralph Wijers, University of Amsterdam. Wednesday, February 5th, 4pm in room 1.28, Science Centre North, (Physics Building), Belfield. 

Abstract: The LOFAR radio telescope, now officially the ILT, was built by The Netherlands with Germany, UK, Sweden, and France, and can still accommodate expansion. It is a versatile interferometer operating in the 20-80 and 110-240 MHz frequency ranges, observing the low-frequency sky to unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.

  Its scientific aims range from the epoch of Reionisation to the Sun, from planets to black holes to cosmic rays, and to general exploration of the unknown in the deep sky and in time domain astronomy. I will present

a brief overview of the raw capabilities, the present status of ILT and some nice science results that have already come out. I will also discuss some of the challenges ahead and lessons learned to achieve full exploitation ILT's capabilities.


9. METEORITE / SOLAR EVENT AT ULSTER MUSEUM: Dr Mike Simms of the Ulster Museum, Stranmillis Road, Belfast, will present a special event on meteorites on the afternoon of 15th February to celebrate the first anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteorite fall. If the weather is ok, the IAA will have some telescopes at the front of the Museum for solar observing. We hope to have a telescope display inside instead, if the weather is inclement.


10: SW KERRY: DARK SKY SITE - Correction: Sorry, the correct link for the SW Kerry Dark Sky Reserve is

11. ALIENS AT ARMAGH PLANETARIUM, 1 March: Planet Aliens is a free live show that tells the story of the Planet Aliens and the wonderful world that they come from.  With a full script and unique music the story will teach children all about the stars and the Cosmos. This is a first of its kind, designed and developed by D-Signs and Displays alongside the team at Armagh Planetarium. With a uniquely designed set, along with props, puppeteers and local actors, this truly is a heart-warming adventure into the Cosmos in search of these wonderful characters. This is a family show which is not to be missed! Suitable for children up to the age of ten. Spaces will be allocated on a “first come first served” basis. Date: Saturday 1 March 2014. Times: 12.15pm, 1.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm. Duration: 30mins. Price: Free

12: CORK: BCO Events:  February's Space Camp is Sold Out! We are now taking bookings for March Junior Space Camp: Sunday March 2 at 12noon. See


13. Advance Notice: Thursday 27 March at 7.30pm Lecture: "Blowing up a storm! Ireland’s record of great winds and the Irish characters who showed the world how to measure them." Dr Kieran R. Hickey, Dept of Geography, NUIG.

Venue: Room OG-029, School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, Queen’s University Belfast, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast, BT7 1NN.

Tickets: free, please email to indicate attendance E rgsniat


14. 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. Demand for this is already high, so book now if you are interested. There is a maximum number allowed on the trip, due to space restrictions within the Newgrange Mound. Booking is through Stranmillis College.


15. Advance Notice: COSMOS 2014.  This will be held from 4-6 April, but this year it will be in Athlone, not Annaharvey, Tullamore! So don't be booking any accommodation in Tullamore, as I nearly did! More details when available. See


16. Advance Notice: Major Astronomy Conference in Galway;  Speed and Sensitivity, Expanding Astronomical Horizons with ELTs. NUI, Galway, 13-16 May 2014

 Led by Prof Andy Shearer: this will be a fascinating look at the future of astronomy as offered by Extremely Large Telescopes, and ever increasingly sensitive detectors. See or


17. 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,   Check the `Seeing the Universe in All its Light’ webpage 


18. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: (Now that's what I call a 'quickie') and (maybe, but the chemical mix was probably only suitable for the most primitive life.) A-MA-ZING! (A condition particularly common among the UFOlogists and Conspiracy Theorists! And you couldn't make this one up!


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


20. 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


Finally, in tribute to the late great John Dobson, a quote from him which is typical of the man, and very appropriate:  "If you figure something out for yourself, it doesn't make no never-mind who figured it out first, it's yours."


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