From: TerryMoselat

Subject: IAA Summer BBQ, solstice, NLCs, IAA photo winner, local space, new meetings etc

Date: 20 June 2014 17:32:25 BST

Hi all,


1. IAA Midsummer BBQ, 28 June, at Armagh Observatory:

The IAA's midsummer BBQ will be at Armagh Observatory, on the afternoon of Sat 28 June. We will also include a visit and show at Armagh Planetarium. Activities will start at 12.00, and we will finish before 6.00.

  The day will also include a tour of the Observatory and some of the main telescope domes.

  We are delighted that Bob Campbell from Tullamore will be bringing his latest, Mark 3, super Triple Rocket Launcher! This will be great fun, and you will be amazed at how high these compressed air / water powered rockets will go! Make your own and bring them along and see if yours is best. More details of how to make them in the next bulletin, but in the meantime, save or collect a couple of 1.5 litre of 2 litre fizzy drinks plastic bottles for your rocket. NB, they have to be for fizzy, i.e. carbonated, drinks, as those bottles are strong enough to withstand the pressure of the compressed air. To be safe, I wouldn't recommend the 'slightly sparkling' water bottles, as they aren't made to withstand as much pressure as one by Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta etc.

   There will also be a visit to another very interesting but lesser known astronomical item in Armagh! Full details here within the next few days.


2. Summer Solstice: 21 June, 11.51 BST. The Sun will reach its most Northerly point along the ecliptic at 10.51 UT, or 11.51 BST. That is almost as long a day as it is possible to have here. A little teaser: what circumstances would have to apply for the Summer Solstice 'longest day' to reach its theoretical maximum duration at your own location (in Ireland)? 

   FIRST CORRECT ANSWER was from Peter Millar of Belfast: To get the longest possible day at any one location (e.g. in Ireland), the solstice would have to occur exactly at the time of local noon, so that the sun would be at its highest for the period centred on local daylight. So to get your local noon, you allow for your longitude West of Greenwich, at + 4 minutes for every degree of longitude (for Belfast that's + 24 mts). Then you also need to allow for the Equation of Time, which on 21 June is almost 2 minutes. So to the nearest minute, the longest possible day in Belfast would occur if the solstice occurs at 12.26 UT, or 13.26 BST.

   This year's solstice will be the longest for most of Ireland until the year 2031. And the longest one for the next 100 years will occur in 2035, when the solstice will occur only 6 minutes from the time which would give a maximum duration.

  BTW, I'll be interviewed for 'Evening Extra' on Radio Ulster at about 17.50 today about this, and also on Saturday morning (when I'll be at Dunsink!) for Radio Ulster's 'The Saturday Magazine', at about 11.00.


3. Noctilucent Clouds (NLCs). We are now in the season of visibility for these ethereal high altitude clouds, visible when the sky is nearly totally dark, as they lie well above the height of ordinary clouds. There was a lovely display last night: Dr Andy McCrea (Editor of IAA's Stardust) got some lovely photos, which should be on the IAA website by now. They are thought to be connected with high altitude fine debris from meteors which have burned up high in our atmosphere. Look low in the Northern sky near local midnight


4. Congrats to the IAA's Martin Campbell on yet another astrophotography prize! At the recent International Astronomy Show held in Warwickshire (June 7/8 ) one of Martin's images won second prize in the imaging competition at the event. The image was a wide field view of the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex. His prize: a William optics zenithstar 71mm doublet ed apo!!!!!!  Well done again to Martin..


5. Space and satellite applications industry event in N.I.

I got this very interesting and encouraging report from Robert Hill, Director of N. I. Space Office:

"Please see article relating to the 'Digital Society and Satellite Applications' event last week in N Ireland.

   It was a great success and media have picked up on the developments. I gave two radio interviews before 7.30am this morning! Fantastic that Minister Arlene Foster opened the conference and met with the intl delegates."

   Well done Robert, who has been the main driver on this initiative.



5: Major astronomy event in Dublin, 13-15 August: This year the ASGI is proud to announce the first Irish National Astronomical Meeting (INAM:2014), celebrating the 40th anniversary of the ASGI, and spanning 3 days. This will represent the new format of the future ASGI meetings, with more focused sessions, chosen by the Irish Astronomical community, aimed at developing meaningful and long-lasting collaborations and friendships. 

We invite you to join us at the Hamilton Conference Centre on the main Trinity College Dublin campus, between August 13th – 15th.

Full details are at the meeting website, but we highlight some key points here:

NB: This is a professional level event, so be prepared from some fairly advanced maths and physics! T.M.


6. IAA Solar Day, WWT, Castle Espie. We will be holding another one of these very popular events on Sunday afternoon, 17 August. More details later.


7. European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS), Geneva, Switzerland, 30 June – 4 July. The annual European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) conference will take place in Geneva from 30 June to 4 July. Bringing together astronomers and space scientists from across Europe, EWASS sessions cover topics from star formation in galaxies to the origin of cosmic dust and astronomy using the SKA and ALMA observatories. See Contact: Conference Secretariat, ewass2014at


8. INTERNATIONAL METEOR CONFERENCE, 2014  Thursday September 18 till Sunday 21 September 2014, Giron, France. Giron is a small village located in the south of the Jura Mountains close to Geneva. The region is easily reachable by air (Geneva or Lyon airport), by train (TGV high speed train from Paris and InterCity trains from Geneva railway station) and by car (highway A40 Lyon-Chamonix). Part of the attraction for this event is that a free visit to CERN is included in the price! See

   NB the deadline for the standard IMC fee is close now: 30 June 2014. After this date you can still register for the IMC but the IMC fee increases with 15 Euro for late registration. To avoid the late registration fee you should register before 1 July and also make your payment before 1 July. Also after 30 June you will not be able to book extra nights before or after the IMC via the LOC. After 30 June extra nights should be booked on your own behalf.




Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015

COSMOS: April 17th to 19th 2015, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone.



The 5th photo, "Sunrise Over The VLT" is a beautiful shot. But the caption may be misleading - the view is due South, not East. Indeed, you can see the first glint of dawnlight (or Moonlight?) on the E side of the domes.

   How can you tell it's looking South? With no S. equivalent of Polaris, the trick to locate the South Celestial Pole (SCP) is to use Alpha & Beta Centauri, plus the Southern Cross. Alpha & Beta are the two bright stars left of centre, one above the other. Above them is the S. Cross: it's not as bright or big as you think! - the long axis of the cross is pointing down and right, to about 4.0 on a clock face. It's easy to identify the pattern in this photo, as it lies immediately above the 'Southern Coal Sack', i.e. the dark cloud of gas and dust in the Milky Way in Crux.

   Having located those, to find the SCP: First, extend the line of the long axis of the Southern Cross. Then bisect the line joining Alpha & Beta Cen with an imaginary line at right angles, towards the South. The SCP is very close to the point where those two lines meet. In this case, it lies just to the left of the left shutter of the closest dome.  The folks at UFO Sightings Daily seem to be losing more and more of their functioning neurons. and  But Alma's resolution is MUCH better than seeing a golf ball at 9 miles! In fact, the resolution is equivalent to human eyesight that can see a coin at a distance of about 500 km. NB: The figures in the 'box' on ALMA are wrong again - it can see a coin at a distance of 500km!  Perhaps 'Optical Prime' would have been more appropriate? If the planet's atmosphere is as hot as 1200 degrees C, life is fairly unlikely, I would imagine. The risks of METI are of course real, if slight.

   But the chance of anyone else picking up our ordinary TV and radio programmes are close to zero: they are non-directional, and would be so attenuated by the time they got out to even a dozen light years that it would take a truly enormous receiver to detect them, and even then it would be almost impossible to distinguish signal from noise.

   Of course, if 'their' probes are already in our solar system listening, then it's a bit too late.... Indeed, the UFOlogists believe they've been doing just that, and more, for the past 60 years or so. Which begs the question - What are they waiting for? If they are going to intervene in our affairs to save us from ourselves, that intervention is long overdue! If they're going to invade, likewise. Or maybe they're happy to just sit there, watching all our TV. For free.

   Space Observatory to study carbon: 

HST to search beyond Pluto for New Horizons target: 

Decontamination on ISS: 

Radar images NEO:

Herschel sees budding stars and giant ring: 

High mass stars are often binary: 

Solar photons drive water off the Moon:

Hunt for ET gets methane boost:

Does the Moon affect sleep?

Titan flybys by Cassini: 

Water molecule from dying Sunlike stars:



10. TWITTER: Follow the IAA on Twitter: The account is now operational again as before: at signIaaAstro.


11. 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