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From: TerryMoselaol.com 
Date: 13 April 2006 00:10:00 BDT 
Subject: IAA AGM, COSMOS 06,  Polo Shirts, Comet, Shiny Xena

Hi all,

1. IAA AGM. The Annual General Meeting of the Irish Astronomical
Association will be on Wed 19 April, at 7.30 p.m., in Lecture Room 5,
Stranmillis College, Stranmillis Road, Belfast. As well as the official
business, we'll have the usual George Brannan 'Video Highlights' of the
past year - always great fun. Free refreshments afterwards. All are
welcome to attend, but only IAA members can vote on any official
business.

2. COSMOS 06, hosted by the Tullamore Astronomy Society, will be held
over the W/E of 21 - 23 April. The venue as usual is at Annaharvey, just
outside Tullamore. Always a good weekend of lectures and craic, and even
sometimes some observing! Details on www.tullamoreastronomy.com.

3. IFAS ECLIPSE POLO SHIRTS If anyone wants one of the
highly-prized IFAS Eclipse polo shirts (around a dozen indicated they
wanted one in Turkey!) - they should let Andy McCrea know with requested
size asap. Andy has a couple of orders but he wants to get a final print
run done so that the cost is kept as low as possible. Contact him at
s.mccrea980btinternet.com, or andrewmccreaa.freeserve.co.uk

4. COMET(S) Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 continues to break apart.
Astronomers are tracking at least 20 fragments approaching Earth for a
close encounter in early May, when the brightest fragments might reach
magnitude 3 or 4 - visible to the unaided eye..  In particular,
fragment B of the comet has brightened 15-fold since April 2nd. This
signals a possible breakup of "73P-B" into even more fragments.  Amateur
astronomers with moderate telescopes and CCD cameras can monitor the
ongoing disintegration.  Some reports speak of a possible 'string of
pearls' effect, as when Comet S-L 9 broke up before impacting Jupiter,
but it's likely that only the brightest fragments will be visible to the
unaided eye or binoculars. More details later.

5. SMALL BUT SHINY XENA. The outer Solar System continues to surprise
and amaze! On top of all the incredible pictures of Saturn's moons from
Cassini, it has now been found that 'Planet X', officially still
called 2003 UB313, but generally dubbed as Xena, is almost the most
reflective object in the Solar System - second only to Enceladus. It
lies about three times as far from the Sun as Pluto, and its brightness
suggested it was considerably larger than Pluto. But discoverer
Mike Brown and colleagues have analysed Hubble images taken in December
2005 to reveal Xena's size as 2400 kilometres (+/- 100) - only about 5%
larger than Pluto's 2290 kilometres. Xena's brightness, yet small size,
means that it must reflect about 86% of the sunlight falling on it.
Spectra suggest its surface is covered with methane.

Clear skies,

Terry Moseley

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