From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Major Lecture, New Dwarf Planet, COSMOS, other lectures & meetings, competitions

Date: 28 March 2014 02:28:17 GMT

Hi all,


1.  IRISH ASTRONOMICAL ASSOCIATION Public Lecture, April 2, 7.30pm:   

 Dr STEVE MYERS CEng FREng FInstP FEPS FAPS: "The LHC and the Discovery of the Higgs Boson". The IAA is delighted to announce that our lecture on April 2 for Global Astronomy Month will be given by Dr Steve Myers, Director of Accelerators at CERN. Dr Myers is a graduate of QUB where he did Engineering, and went on to be head of the section of CERN dealing with all the big particle accelerators, including the LHC. In other words, without him, they wouldn't have discovered the Higgs Boson!

   Dr Myers was recently recognised with the award of an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his major contribution to the research at CERN. Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive at STFC, said: "Steve Myers is the man who made the Large Hadron Collider work – as CERN's head of Accelerators and Technology, he was responsible for delivering the particle beams to the ATLAS and CMS experiments, which the scientists then used to discover the Higgs Boson in 2012. Without his vision and hard work, none of this would have been possible."

   See: and, and and

    The LHC is absolutely huge - 27km in circumference. But if you think that's big, see this: I'm sure that Dr Myers will be able to give us some insight into the plans for this ginormous machine.

These may also be of interest:, and, and

    And with the discovery of Gravitational Waves, modern physics marches on!  

See also:

  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. 

   We expect the lecture theatre to be full, so come early to get a good seat. And please sit close together so that we can fit everyone in!

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

(This lecture forms part of the IAA's participation in National Astronomy Week)


2. New 'Dwarf Planet' at outer edge of Solar System.

A new object has been discovered at the outer limits of the Solar System. Provisionally called "2012 VP13", it never comes closer to the Sun than 80 AU's (an AU is the mean Earth-Sun distance, about 93m miles / 150m km). This means that its Perihelion point lies beyond even that of Sedna, the previous record holder at 76 AU. But, contrary to what is implied in some reports, that does not make it the most distant SS object known, since the average distance (the semi-major axis of the orbit) of Sedna is 508 AU, whereas that of 2012 VP13 is 'only' 266 AU. That's because Sedna's orbit is much more elongated: it goes from 76AU out to 940AU, whereas the new one ranges from 80AU to 452AU.

   Similarly, Pluto is regarded as lying beyond Neptune because its mean distance from the Sun is greater, even though its orbit sometimes brings it within that of Neptune.

See and and and 

   NB: This raises an interesting point on definitions. Is an object 280 miles / 450km in diameter a 'Dwarf Planet? It may not be even approximately circular. That size would make it =9th in order of size among the main belt asteroids, so it hardly qualifies as a dwarf planet.

   Maybe it's time for another change in nomenclature or definitions? How about Inner Belt Asteroids, for those not outside the orbit of Jupiter, and Outer Belt Asteroids for those beyond Neptune? And anything bigger than Mercury, even in those outer regions, would qualify as a planet.


3. ISS: The International Space Station is doing another series of morning passes over Ireland. There are good passes on the mornings of 29 and 31 March Details on


4. EARTH HOUR, 29 March: The annual 'switch off lights to save the planet' will be observed around the world at 8.30 p.m. local time. Everyone is requested to switch off all lights which are not absolutely essential (and a good idea to switch off anything else electrical which you're not actually using), from 8.30 to 9.30 p.m. And if everyone DID do that we would all be treated to a fantastic reduction in light pollution. Register at


5.  Dunsink Observatory: My public lecture there on Wednesday evening seemed to be well-received by a full-house audience, judging by the feedback received by event organiser Dr Hilary O'Donnell. And the clouds cleared just as the questions ended, so we all went to the beautiful and impressive 12" South Refractor to observe Jupiter and its four Galilean Moons. Although it was my first time using the telescope, I soon had it going properly with the drive following Jupiter, so that we didn't need to keep readjusting the pointing of the telescope between every viewer! The numerous exclamations of "Wow!" and "Cool!" told their own story of how they enjoyed their view through the eyepiece.

   Thanks to Prof Tom Ray of DIAS for facilitating that, and to John Dolan and Patricia Carroll of the IAS for helping at the event.


6. Trip to Newgrange - NOW FULLY BOOKED:

We have had to get a larger coach! We may run another one next year, depending on demand.


7. IAS Lecture, 31 March: "Exploring Mars, discovering Earth". by Kevin Nolan, Planetary Society. Monday March 31th 2014 (8 pm).: Ely House, 8 Ely Place, Dublin 2. All welcome, free event.


8. Global Astronomy Month, April 2014:




9. COSMOS 2014.  This will be held from 4-6 April,  in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel in Athlone.

There is a full programme ready with 9 EXCELLENT speakers, air-powered rocket launches, exhibits, observing and LOADS more throughout the weekend! 

    This year, Midlands Astronomy Club is lucky to have sponsorship from Ktec Telescopes (, and we thank them for their support of COSMOS 2014.

The programme of events (timetable only) can be viewed on our website:

Registration: Friday evening from 7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9:30am.

Prices: All this and much more is available to everyone. The following are the admission rates:

Weekend: €30; Day (Sat or Sun): €20; Friday only: €5

Children under 12 remain free WITH an accompanying, paying adult(s).

Cosmic Dinner (Saturday Night from 7:30pm): This will have limited places but will have greater availability than in previous years. Price and menu will be available for consideration from Friday of the weekend if not beforehand.

Cosmos Table Quiz (Saturday from 9:00pm): This will be held following the tea/coffee serving after the Cosmic Dinner. It is FREE, part of the programme and open to all visitors, not just those of the dinner. There will be, of course, the annual Cosmos Table Quiz trophies to be won!

Rocket Launches: This is where you will get to have some fun with your own model rocket - made from a pop bottle (1.5lt to 1.5lt kind) and launches from a compressed air-powered launch pad! Get creative, make as many as you want, and even add up to additional bottles as boosters. The launch pad will in fact be bale to launch 4 rockets simultaneously.

Accommodation: There is a discount for attendees staying in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel. All you need to do is tell them you are attending.

This promises to be our BIGGEST Star Party yet. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Competition! Also, check out the advert that appeared in 1 of 8 regional newspapers offering a competition to win some great prizes! Other newspapers include Westmeath Independent, Cavan Anglo Celt, Meath Chronicle, Offaly Independent, and the Leinster Express.

There is also a competition on our Facebook page too:

Both are with thanks for Ktec Telescopes for their kind prizes sponsorship.


10.  Mars at Opposition on 8 April: Mars will be closest to Earth this year in the first half of April, and so best placed for viewing. It lies in Virgo, not far from bright blue-white Spica. At opposition it will have brightened to a spectacular -1.5, and with a diameter of 15.1”, you can see reasonable detail in a good telescope, if the seeing is steady. The North Pole of the planet is tilted towards Earth, at an angle of 21˚, but the polar cap is likely to be barely visible in the Martian summer. It will be 242 million km from the Sun, but only 93m km from Earth.


11. Astrophotography Competition:  The Royal Observatory, Greenwich includes a Robotic Scope prize in their Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2014 competition.

   'The competition is now in its sixth year and welcomes entries from astronomy photographers of all levels from around the world. Last year we had a record number of entries, with over 1200 images being entered from entrants across 49 countries. 

   The competition receives a vast amount of press coverage, both when the shortlist is released and when the winners are announced in September. The Robotic Scope prize was introduced in 2011 in recognition of the trend for astronomy photographers to use telescopes that are remotely operated and publicly accessible via the internet.'

   To take part in the competition follow the link below for more details: The competition is open for another four weeks and the deadline for entries is midday (BST) on April 24th. Full details can be found on their website here:<>. 



12. IAA Event at North Down Museum, Bangor, 3 May. After last year's very successful IAA event there, we have been invited back for another evening, on 3 May. More details in future bulletins.


13. 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

With reference to this, these articles may be of interest:  It doesn't say here what the diameter of the E-ELT will be: it was originally to be 42m (the answer to the ultimate question about 'Life, The Universe, and Everything" was "42"), but it was later scaled back to a still huge 39m.

   But how can any science journalist refer to a roughly circular mirror as 'thirty meters long'?



14. STFC Roadshow at QUB, 17 - 24 May. Note that this event will now start 2 days earlier, and finish one day earlier, than in previous emails. The revised dates are as shown above. 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 



Solarfest 2014 is now confirmed for Saturday 21st June. Further details will be posted here in due course:


16. 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). See


17. HST Takes Amazing Photo:

Another one for the UFOlogists and conspiracy theorists!

Take your pick from -

# A fleet of alien spaceships arranging themselves in formation prior to attacking Earth

# A battle between two opposing alien space fleets (hence the different colours: greens and blues vs reds and yellows?) to establish control over our sector of the galaxy

# NASA / CIA / DARPA  testing new space laser weapons

# HAARP* temporarily taking control of the HST

# Test of new galactic anti-gravity device sends stars flying through space

# Your own theory?

   * From Wiki: HAARP is a target of conspiracy theorists, who claim that it is capable of modifying weather, disabling satellites and exerting mind control over people, and that it is being used as a weapon against terrorists. Such theorists have blamed the program for causing earthquakes, droughts, storms and floods, diseases such as Gulf War Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, and the 2003 destruction of the space shuttle Columbia."


18. Astronomy site in Morocco: This looks like a good option for serious dark sky observing and imaging fanatics. Dark and clear skies, great equipment, English language and nice facilities. Email paulat, or see


19. INTERESTING WEBLINKS: So would astronauts on the Moon have weirder dreams at the time of Full Earth (which would be New Moon)? At least there's peace in space, if not on the ground! (We hope!) This is what I've been saying all along. Sort of....



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


21. 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