From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Stargazing Live, Public Lecture, Big Sunspot, Tyrone Ast, Galway Star Party etc

Date: 6 January 2014 16:06:23 GMT

Hi all,


1.  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.

There are 4 main events this year.

A. Tuesday 7 January "Moon and Jupiter Watch", at QUB, starting at 6p.m. In conjunction with QUB Astrophysics Research Centre. We will have our usual selection of powerful telescopes to give spectacular views of the Moon, and the giant planet Jupiter, plus other highlights of the night sky. If it's cloudy, QUB will be providing a public lecture in the nearby physics building. All IAA members with portable telescopes, binoculars, green laser pointers etc, please bring them along as the crowds at this event have been fantastic in the past.

B. SUPERNOVAE, Big Bang, and The formation of the Elements: Wednesday 8 January, 7.30 p.m. Our first lecture in 2014 in our new season will be the second event under the Stargazing Live Banner, with a slight change of content: See item 2 below. 

C. BBC2 STARGAZING LIVE, Thursday 9 January: The main local event will be at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum at Cultra, starting from the onset of reasonable darkness. This will feature observing as above, starshows in the mobile planetarium (courtesy of Armagh Planetarium), telescope and meteorite displays, star walks, an artificial aurora, lots of hands-on activities, and many more items than I haven't room to mention here. Armagh Observatory & Planetarium, QUB's ARC, and W5, among others, will also be featuring.

D. STARRY STARRY NIGHT: Running concurrently with the BBC2 event at Cultra (7 - 9 p.m.) will be another 2 hour live radio broadcast on Radio Ulster, presented by Anne-Marie McAleese. This will feature interviews with lots of local people involved in the event, and I will be on-call throughout to do updates on what is happening, and answer questions from the public.

   Full details are on the IAA website:

  If anyone would like to volunteer to help out at this event, and can bring a telescope etc, please let me know by return, unless you have already done so.

This is undoubtedly the biggest public astronomy event in the UK & Ireland each year, so be a part of it!


2. IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION: Public Lecture, Jan 8: "The origin of the elements: stars, supernovae and the Big Bang"  Dr Stuart Sim, of the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB.

   The Big Bang is how it all began, and in it were created the simplest elements: Hydrogen, Helium, and some Lithium. 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.

LATEST NEWS:  Astronomers with the SuperNova Legacy Survey (SNLS) have discovered two of the brightest and most distant supernovae ever recorded, 10 billion light-years away and a hundred times more luminous than normal supernovae. And interestingly, the mechanism that powers most supernovae (the collapse of a giant star to a black hole or neutron star) cannot explain this extreme luminosity. Discovered in 2006 and 2007, they were so unusual that astronomers did not know what they were or how far away they were.  One of them, named SNLS-06D4eu, is now thought to be the most distant and possibly the most luminous member of an emerging class of explosions called superluminous supernovae. Now latest research indicates that the objects may be powered by a magnetar, an extraordinarily highly magnetised neutron star spinning hundreds of times per second. (Adapted from SPA Bulletin)

   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.



3. Large SUNSPOT GROUP APPEARING: John Nooney of Mullingar sent me an excellent shot of the Sun showing a new large group, AR 1944, just appearing over the Sun's limb. The whole group is much larger than the planet Jupiter, while the largest individual spot is about 4-5 times the size of the Earth. Well worth watching! And we might even get an aurora.....


4. 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>


5. GALWAY ASTROFEST, 1 February: Full details of our Astronomy Festival is now available at

UPDATE: Galway Astronomy Festival is coming on Feb 1st, where members of the public are invited to a special event dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of the Universe being held at the Westwood House Hotel.

   "City of Stars" is the theme for the Galway Astronomy Festival with an emphasis on how our exploration of the Cosmos has Inspired communities and cultures in our city that would not otherwise do so; to think about the Universe.

   The Galway Astronomy Festival is a celebration and exhibition of astronomy. A spectacle of stars, planets and space with presentations from top names in the world of astronomy, activities, trade stands, advice, Observing, Big Telescopes and guidance. Something for all ages interests and experiences. The best thing about the Galway Astronomy Festival, along with the incredible atmosphere, is the diverse age range of people that attend annually; all brought together by one common passion - their love of astronomy.

   Galway Astronomy Festival 2014: Igniting Passions, Inspiring Minds, Transforming Futures see our wonderful promo movie at

   There will be a special stand, Apogee Imaging Instruments coming over from California who will be represented by Tim Puckett, an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer with over 30 years experience. Experienced in the field of amateur CCD (digital) astro-imaging, Puckett has operated numerous CCD cameras since 1989. He has built several robotic telescopes and is currently operating an automated supernova search patrol and comet astrometry program which uses 60-cm and 35-cm telescopes.

  Puckett’s photos of comets and deep-sky objects have been published in books and magazines in several countries, including Great Britain, Japan, Italy, Germany, Australia and South Africa. His work has also been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, BBC, The Discovery and Learning Channels and Good Morning America. Puckett has been the Astronomy Sales Engineer for Apogee Instruments since May 2006.




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


8. 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, again may I wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year.


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