From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Lecture, DarkSky Reserve, Mercury, Stardust, GSP, LOFAR, Meteorites, Aliens @ AP

Date: 31 January 2014 02:37:28 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). 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:


 Many congratulations to Julie Ormonde and the SW Kerry Astronomy club in achieving the International Darksky Association's ( "Gold Tier Reserve" Award, for their new Dark Sky reserve in the Iveragh Peninsula. Kerry. This is only the third such award in the whole world, and the first one in the N. Hemisphere! (The only two others are in Namibia and New Zealand). See:

   I was delighted to get an invitation to the official award ceremony and launch of the site on Monday, and together with Albert White of the ILPAC, I made the long drive through wind & rain to Cahirciveen - but it was very much worth it! There was an excellent launch ceremony, with talks from Julie, the local Council officials, the Mayor of Kerry, Bord Failte, Prof Brian Espey of TCD, and Dr Chris Kyba of the IDA who did the official presentation. Julie deservedly got a standing ovation for all her efforts over a period oh 18 months to achieve this very prestigious accolade. Excellent, and seemingly endless, refreshments were provided, and a good time was had by all!

  And Albert and I (and a few other visitors who had travelled far) got free overnight accommodation & breakfast in two of the houses at Derrynane Hotel.

   On the way there from Cahirciveen, there were some good clear spells, so of course we stopped to admire the pitch black sky, but it was so cold & windy that we didn't stay out long enough to let our eyes totally dark-adapt. Even so, the sky was just glorious.

   The Dark Sky Reserve covers an area of 700 sq km (not 700km-square, as quoted by one source which should know better - that would be bigger than the whole of Ireland!)

   There's already talk of a possible IFAS 'very dark sky observing weekend there'. There will probably be further chat about that at the Galway Star Party this W/E, and of course if it goes ahead I'll let you know. NB, this would be for serious darksky observing - even the light from your mobile phone screen would be frowned upon!

See: for a timely article.


3. See Mercury: The elusive innermost planet is now 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. On Feb 1, it will lie just below and right of a lovely thin crescent moon. 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 about the next week.


4. STARDUSTS: If any IAA members have not yet received their January copy of STARDUST, please let me know by return.


5. 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).


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

The supernova which recently exploded in the nearby Cigar Galaxy (M82) in Ursa Major is still brightening;     Latest reliable estimates at put it at mag 10.6 for visual observers. That puts it within range of a small telescope, or good high power binoculars. It's much brighter in the red end of the spectrum. It should peak about Feb 2, before dimming over the next few months. See

  M82, which is an elongated irregular galaxy, lies close to the bigger and brighter oval-shaped M81. You can find them easily by following the diagonal line across the 'blade' of the Plough, or the 'bowl' of the Big Dipper, i.e. from Gamma through Alpha, and extending it for its own distance beyond Alpha. The precise co-ordinates of the supernova are: RA: 09 55 42.14; Dec: +69 40 26.0

   See how it was discovered at:



7. GALWAY ASTROFEST, 1 February: UPDATE: Special Guest speakers: Tim Puckett, and Guy Hurst, editor of "The Astronomer"

Full updated details of our Astronomy Festival is now available at

We have almost €2500 worth of equipment in our 10th anniversary raffle this year! All details on our website at


8. LOFAR Colloquia at UCC and UCD:

Title: "LOFAR: overview, status, and early results"

Speaker: Prof. Ralph Wijers, University of Amsterdam

UCC: Monday, February 3rd, 4pm in room B10A in the Kane Building in UCC.

UCD: 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. NEW IRISH SCIENCE BLOG: Note this new science blog by Dr Kevin Nolan. It's called “Planetarie” and can be found at:"

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, Show 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.


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: Halton 'Chip' Arp was a great astronomer, who suffered because of his unorthodox views. But his 'Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies' is still a standard reference book.  Who can point out the most things wrong in the second illustration by David Aguilar?

An interesting article spoiled by the dumbed-down intro. Now New Scientist has taken anthropomorphising to a whole new level - applying it to a whole galaxy! Sad. (For next Xmas: Please, Santa, I've been a VERY good boy!) Err, No.



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