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From: TerryMoselaol.com
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2004 18:37:51 EDT
Subject: Eclipse, RIA Committee, Lectures.

Hi all,

1. Well, with very few exceptions, the Lunar Eclipse was clouded out 
throughout Ireland. A lucky few got occasional glimpses, but mainly during the umbral 
stages. So roll on 4 March 2007 (Sir Patrick Moore's birthday, BTW). But why, 
you may ask, are there no more Total Lunar Eclipses until then? - Just bad 
luck, or chance or statistical fluctuations - however you like to look at it. 
There are other lunar eclipses between now and then, of course:
a. A large partial penumbral eclipse on 2005 April 24 (not worth observing)
b. A very slight partial eclipse (only about 5%) on 2005 Oct 17
c. A penumbral lunar eclipse on 2006 March 14 (all of the Moon enters the 
penumbra, but none of it enters the umbra - relatively rare, but not 
spectacular!)
d. Another small partial (about 10%) eclipse on 2006 Sep 27.

The 4 March 2007 one will be quite like the one just passed, with the moon 
fairly deep in the umbra, but nowhere near central.

And, just to show that chance can work the other way too, it is actually the 
first of three Totals in a row, though only two of them are visible from here: 
they are
4 March 2007 (all visible from Ireland)
28 August 2007 (not visible at all from Ireland)
21 February 2008 (all visible from Ireland).

2. I attended the first meeting of the new Astronomy and Space Committe of 
the Royal Irish Academy on Tuesday, as the representative of the amateur 
community. As promised, here are the main points of interest.
   A. The first items were to elect a Chair & Secretary. But as three of the 
most important members (Prof Mark Bailey, Prof Luke Drury, Prof Evert Meurs) 
could not attend as they were at a special meeting to consider the Dunsink 
issue, no Chair was elected, with Prof Brian McBreen taking the position for this 
meeting only. Prof Mike Redfern was elected sectreary.
   B. We agreed that our first role would be to produce a 'Strategic Plan' 
for the future development of astronomy in Ireland, for the three-year term of 
the Committee, and beyond. All members are to input to that Plan, by email or 
otherwise.
   C. Dunsink 'closure'? : As Mark Bailey, Luke Drury & Evert Meurs could not 
attend we could only address the possible closure of Dunsink issue with 
limited information. But the Committee expressed its concern at any possible 
proposal of closure, bearing in mind Dunsink's position in our astronomical 
heritage, and its unique possibilities for public outreach in astronomy. We did of 
course recognise that the 'science' case was an important one too. We undertook 
to await the publication of any report, and then to give a considered response.
   D. Light Pollution. I informed the Committee of the IFAS/ILPAC position & 
initiatives, which they welcomed. We undertook to pursue the RIA committee's 
'Dark Skies' initiative (more on this later) with all relevant parties, up to 
ministerial level. A Working Group is being set up, on an all-Ireland basis, 
with volunteers from all Committe members, including those not present, being 
sought. I intend to volunteer.
   E. I raised the interest & concern among many in the amateur community 
that the great Birr Telescope was still not operational after several years since 
the mirrors were installed, and how we felt that it was a shame that so much 
money had been spent to so little effect so far. The committee noted this, and 
though it is not a matter under its control, we agreed to express our unease 
at the delay, and to morally support any initiatives to have it fully 
restored.
   F. Public Lectures: I pointed out that 2005 is the centenary of Einstein's 
Special Theory of Relativity, and suggested that some public lectures would 
be appropriate. It is also the bi-centenary of the birth of Sir William Rowan 
Hamilton' ( Professor of Astronomy at Dunsink & Astronomer Royal for Ireland, & 
noted for his famous quaternion equations), and 2005 has been designated 
'Hamilton Year' by the Academy. The Institute of Physics is holding its own 
events, and there may be one public lecture under their aegis. The McCrea lectures 
will be on 13 & 14 April 2005 in Dublin, to be given by Prof Malcolm Longair. 
The RIA is to consider sponsoring a public lecture on relativity some time in 
2005.
   G. I also raised the ARTI  proposal (A Radio Telescope for Ireland - a 30m 
dish, to be built, at least on current plans, in Birr Castle Demesne, and 
linked to the MERLIN and E-MERLIN networks). The committee discussed all the 
angles on this, including any possible conflict with Ireland's option to join ESO, 
but noted that ARTI is entirely a private and separate proposal, to be funded 
from private sources, not with Public money. 
   H. The meetings are normally 6-monthly, but we agreed to meet again on 6 
January, to deal with the more urgent issues on the agenda. So if you have any 
points you wish me to make, let me know before then.
   NB: This is my own entirely unofficial account of those matters of 
interest primarily to the amateur community, and is in no way an official record of 
the meeting! In the event of any conflict between my recollection & the 
official minutes, the latter will rule!

3. Lectures:

(1) Yours truly is to give a lecture entitled "Observing Our Nearest Planet" 
to the Astro-2 Society at NUI Maynooth on Tue 2 November.

(2) On Wed 3 November the next IAA meeting will be addressed by our own 
member, Astro-Archaeologist (or 'Archaeo-astronomer'?) , Rowan McLoughlin, on 
"Prehistoric Astronomy in Western Ulster", in Stranmillis College, Stranmillis 
Road, Belfast, 7.30 p.m. Admission free including light refreshments, and all are 
welcome.

(3). I will have to miss that one, as I'll be giving another lecture entitled 
"Aliens: Where Are They?" to the Shannonside Astronomy Club in Limerick that 
night (Wed 3rd)! 

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley.

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