From: TerryMoselat

Subject: Leo's Lecture, Equinox, ISS, Krauss lecture, more on Rosetta, WSW, Newgrange etc

Date: 23 September 2014 02:04:46 BST

Hi all,


1. IAA New Season Opening Lecture 24 Sep: Latest Science Results from Rosetta, by Leo Enright

 This talk by Ireland's leading science broadcaster and journalist, will reveal the latest findings from the fantastic Rosetta spacecraft at Comet C-G. As you can see from some of the images, the comet is weird - absolutely unlike anything we've seen before. And Leo usually updates his talk from the Internet just about 10 minutes before he's due to start, so it will be the VERY latest information. Not to be missed!

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.


2.  EQUINOX. The Sun will cross the celestial equator southwards on Sep 23 at 03.29 BST, marking the start of autumn. 'Equinox' means that the length of the night is equal to that of the day, but for several reasons that is not actually so!

   Firstly, the equinox is measured when the centre of the Sun crosses the equator, whereas the hours of daylight are calculated from the upper limb of the Sun appearing above the E horizon until the upper limb disappears above the W horizon. That adds an extra 3m 40s to the daylight period, at our latitude.

   Secondly, refraction by the Earth's atmosphere causes the Sun to appear fully above our horizon even when it is actually still just fully below it! The exact amount of refraction depends on the atmospheric pressure and air temperature, but on average that adds another 7 minutes or so to daylight at our latitude at the time of the equinoxes. So on the days of the theoretical equinoxes, the days are actually about 10 minutes longer than the nights.


3. ISS Visible in Morning Sky. The ISS is now making another series of passes over Ireland, visible in the morning sky around the time of early twilight. Full details of passes for your location, and lots of other information, are available on the excellent free site:


4. Special Krauss lecture at QUB, 22 October: "Cosmic Connection: from the Big Bang to life on Earth and Beyond."

BOOKING NOW OPEN! Registration is now open for the lecture. Go to, and the top news link, beside the book snapshot 

   Taking advantage of the visit to Belfast by world famous cosmologist Lawrence Krauss (see earlier bulletin), the IAA is teaming up with the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB (to which sincere thanks are due) to present a public lecture by him on 22 October.  

   Time 7.30 p.m., in Larmor Lecture Theatre, QUB. Free admission but by email ticket application only. 

    Lawrence Krauss is a renowned cosmologist, and author of many best-selling books such as "The Fifth Essence" (Dark Matter); "The Physics of Star Trek"; "A Universe From Nothing"; "Quintessence, The Search For Missing Mass In The Universe", "Beyond Star Trek"; "Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth...and Beyond"; and many articles in various science journals. He is also the ONLY physicist to have received awards from all three of the major American Physics Societies. See:

   By coincidence, this story on dark matter has recently broken: Intuitively, I like it, although the science is of course totally beyond me!


5. IAA Observing Nights at Delamont Country Park

These very popular weekend observing sessions will start again this month. Delamont is well signposted off the A22 just South of Killyleagh, (North of Downpatrick) Co Down. They are suitable for anyone, but are aimed especially at beginners.

We bring our own large telescopes; bring your own if you have a portable one.

  The events work like this: If it's clear on the Friday night, the event goes ahead. If not, we try again on the Saturday night. If both are cloudy, we try again on the following weekend, same procedure. To check if it's going ahead, check the IAA website: up to 6.0 p.m. on each day. Dates for next session: Sep 26-27 If cloudy, we'll try again on the next date on the list..



6. World Space Week: October 4 to 11; UK Launch in N. Ireland!

There will be events in various parts of the province. More news on this excellent coup by Robert Hill in the next bulletin. To register your event, please follow this link: 


7. ARCHAEOASTRONOMY TRIP TO NEWGRANGE and KNOWTH, 11 October: Following the success of last years' trip, Stranmillis University College Institute of LifeLong Learning have asked me to run another one, on 11 October, but this time including a visit to the Knowth Tomb as well. It has the largest collection of Megalithic art anywhere in Europe in one single site, some of which is reckoned to be astronomical. Booking for thus very popular, non-technical trip, is via the Stranmillis website, or go direct to,456138,en.pdf and scroll down to p. 23, or pick up a brochure from Reception.

   This trip is booking quickly, so reserve your places now if you want to go!


8. Astronomical Orientation of Lough Gur Stone Circle. This is the largest stone circle in Ireland, and well-known archaeoastronomer Dr Frank Prendergast will be one of the speakers at the following event: The inaugural Lough Gur Spirit of Place Celebration, featuring a series of public lectures, talks, contemplative tours and music in the heart of one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites, will take place on the 10th and 11th of October next.

   The event is on the home page of the website with a drop down menu appearing on the top left. This section includes programme and speaker information, and press releases.


9. Irish Archaeoastronomy online:  Dr Frank Prendergast of DIT, an Irish expert on archaeoastronomy (see above), has written a number of papers on the subject, including one on Knowth, not to mention being a contributor to the massive and very expensive Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy just published by Springer Reference in 3 volumes He has made a number of these papers available online.

Visit and under 'authors' you will find some of these, including the Knowth paper. Use the link 

rather than the pdf, if possible.


10. The Elements in the Universe:  Ulster Museum, 11 October, 12.00 - 4.30). this event will be looking at the Universe from an elemental point of view. Dr Mike Simms will be there with his meteorites. He has also invited IAA members to participate, particularly those with telescopes, especially if linked to spectroscopy of the Sun and stars. If anyone is interested in being involved, please contact Mike so that he can plan the event. michael.simmsat 


11. TAMING THE ELEMENTS LECTURE SERIES, Ulster Museum     The lectures will take place on consecutive Tuesday evenings, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the Lecture Theatre on the ground floor. Some of these talks will be of interest to astronomers.  This is a free event – but to secure your place please use the Buy Tickets button on the web page. For further information please ring 028 9044 0000. Opening hours are Tue-Sun 10am-5pm.


 There are seven lectures; the second one in particular will be of interest to astronomers:

" 2. The origin of the elements 7:00 - 9:00pm Tuesday 28th October

     Discover how common elements formed in stars, supernova and the Big Bang help to answer some of the big questions in modern astronomy. See e.g.



12. ROSETTA's probe to land on Comet on 11 November. The Rosetta spacecraft continues to 'orbit' round Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, sending back more jawdropping photos. After studying the 'binary' surface in great detail, the site to land a probe on the surface has now been chosen. (the dimension quoted for the 'landing site' is actually the diameter of the whole 'head' section of the comet)

Watch out for more amazing photos.  See:

First map of Rosetta's comet: 

Errrm - freshly exposed ice, anyone?

This will be the topic for the IAA's opening lecture of the new season, by the incomparable Leo Enright.

 See item 1 above:


13. COMET NEAR-MISS WITH MARS, Oct 19: Comet Siding Spring will pass 134,000 kilometres from Mars on October 19. The neutral-gas coma of the comet, which extends for more than 100,000 kilometres in all directions from the nucleus, may well interact with the atmosphere of the planet. Ions may extend away than that, and the tail is millions of kilometres long. As a precaution, the orbits of the Martian orbiters have been altered to place them on the safe side of the planet during the most dangerous part of the encounter, which will occur when Mars' path through the comet's tail reaches the region of highest dust density, about 100 minutes after closest approach. 

 Nevertheless, every effort will be made to get good observations from the comet from all the spacecraft on or near the Red Planet. Siding Spring is a long-period comet on its first visit to the inner Solar System and spacecraft designed to study Mars up-close are not idea for good observations of the tiny comet nucleus much further away. 

   The comet's coma of dust and ice particles are the main hazard for the orbiters, but will not affect the rovers on the surface which will be protected by Mars' atmosphere. Even though it's much thinner than ours, the tiny particles in the coma will burn up without reaching the ground.

Each spacecraft will observe the comet as best as possible using its respective instruments. Most attention will be on the comet's coma -- its size, composition, the size of the particles, how it varies with time, and the jets from the nucleus. They will also study the comet's effect on the Martian atmosphere. And one spacecraft may possibly be able to image the tiny nucleus of the comet, only 1-2 kilometres across, as it passes by at the challenging relative speed of 57 km/s. But most instruments will be able to see the coma or the coma's effects on the atmosphere.

The spacecraft involved are: 1. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Has 3 cameras plus an imaging spectrometer and a radar sounder. 2. Mars Express. Will use HRSC camera and ultraviolet/infrared atmospheric spectrometer. 3. Mars Odyssey. Will use THEMIS thermal emission imaging system. 4. MAVEN, arriving 2014. Has a suite of instruments devoted to Mars' upper atmosphere, but no camera. 5. Mars Orbiter Mission, arriving 2014. Has a varied instrument suite but not sure if it will be performing Siding Spring observations.



Galway Astrofest: Feb 21, 2015, Theme: "New Worlds - New Horizons" Excellent speaker line-up already!  See

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


15. INTERESTING WEBLINKS:  The UFO Sightings Daily people continue to excel themselves - or insult our intelligence, depending on the number of functioning neurons you have. Anything above 50 probably is enough to put you in the latter category. 

Astrophotography winners images: and and 

   Also: All is going well on India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), planned to enter Mars orbit later this month. It is already within four million km from the Red Planet. A critical stage will occur on September 24 when the liquid-propellent engine is to be restarted, after being in sleep mode for nearly ten months, to perform a critical manoeuvre. Officially named Mangalyaan, the craft was launched by the 'Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle' on November 5 2013. The info in the Box on the Animal Space Race is wrong: the Fruit Flies did not go 'into orbit' - nothing went into orbit until October 4 1957, with Sputnik 1. They did a very high altitude / sub-orbital hop, that's all. It's a 'Mars Onesie'. Another cringeworthy headline.... 

Violent origins of spiral galaxies 

New space ferries to ISS: 

Casis to launch on SpaceX 

Science experiments on SpaceX 

Study of pathogens in Space 

Dawn spacecraft back on track 

Pulsar powers intense GammaRays 

X-Class Solar Flare 

Spaceflight for all? 

Smallest galaxy with a supermassive Black Hole 

Puzzling gravity anomaly:

Life in Martian Meteorite?

New info on Cosmic Ray Flux

What caused the cracks on Miranda? and 



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


17. 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



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


Terry Moseley