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From: TerryMoselat signaol.com
Date: 30 November 2006 23:07:50 GMT
Subject: Events, News, Shuttle mission

Hi all,

It's a busy time of year!

1. At Astronomy Ireland's Astro-Expo this Saturday Dec. 2nd (10am-6pm)
the E.S.O. will mount a major exhibit. Details are at
www.astronomy.ie.
Astro-Expo is funded by the Discover Science and Engineering programme and so admission is FREE.

 2. Public Lecture, "FINDING THE INVISIBLE : ASTRONOMY & BLACK
HOLES"  Lecture Theatre 8 at University of Ulster, Coleraine, Tuesday
5th December 2006, 7.30 pm, by Professor Paul Callanan from the
Department of Physics, University College Cork.    "Our knowledge of the
Universe has expanded in leaps and bounds in recent years driven by
technological advances in astronomy. Although optical astronomy has been
with us for many thousands of years, new types of astronomy, such as
those focusing on the infra-red or X-ray windows of the electromagnetic
spectrum, have also made a dramatic impact on our studies of the Cosmos.
This talk will explain some of the technology and techniques that
underpin modern astronomy, and outline how they are used to study the
mysterious phenomenon of Black Holes."    Light Refreshments will be
served afterwards. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

3. Women in astronomy: the Christmas lecture for Astronomy Ireland will
be given this month by Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the Belfast-born
cosmologist, who in 1967, while still a young PhD student, discovered
the first pulsar. Bell Burnell, who has long played an active role in
radio-astronomy, has also been a keen champion of women in science, and
her talk will be about the many contributions women have made to
astronomy. Monday, December 11, 8pm,  Schrodinger Theatre, Physics
Building, TCD, adm e5/e3 Link

4. Practical Astronomy: The next IAA public meeting will be on Wednesday
13 December, at 7.30 p.m., Lecture Theatre 5, Stranmillis College,
Belfast. Two Council Members, Danny Collins and Robert Cobain, will talk
on various aspects of 'practical astronomy'. Admission free, including
some seasonal refreshments afterwards. See www.irishastro.org

5. To catch the wind:  the current of air that stirs the leaves, and how
scientists have come to measure and understand it, is the topic for a
public talk by weather writer  Brendan McWilliams. Organised by the
Irish meteorological society, December 14, 8 pm,  Room G32 Earlsfort
Terrace, UCD Dublin 2 (next to National Concert Hall).  All welcome, adm
free.  www.irishmetsociety.org

  6.  LAUNCH OF SHUTTLE DISCOVERY ON FLIGHT STS-116, 8 December Launch
of Space Shuttle Discovery on flight STS-116 is scheduled for 8 December
at 01:38 GMT. STS-116 will deliver a third truss segment, a SPACEHAB
module and other key components during the Shuttle's 20th mission to the
International Space Station (ISS).     STS-116 is the next in a series
of very demanding and complex missions to complete the construction of
the Space Station. Two days after launch, Discovery will dock with the
ISS and the seven Shuttle crew members will enter the Station. They will
be welcomed by the three resident astronauts from the Expedition 14
crew, which includes ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter of Germany, who has
been on board since July.    The mission's main objectives are to attach
the P5 connector element of the integrated truss structure to the
Station and to connect the power from two large electricity-generating
solar array panels delivered and installed in September. The solar
arrays will provide a permanent supply of electricity for the ISS, which
has been running on a temporary electrical power system since it went
into orbit in 1998.    During the twelve-day mission, ESA astronaut
Christer Fuglesang of Sweden and his NASA counterpart Robert Curbeam
will carry out two extra-vehicular activities (EVAs or spacewalks).
During the first, the new P5 truss structure will be installed at the
end of the main truss. The next day, the port-side half of the original
P6 solar array will be retracted, clearing the way for P4, one of the
arrays delivered in September, to rotate in alignment with the Sun.    
The main task during the second EVA is to rewire the power system for
one half of the Station. The other half of the power system will be
rewired during a third EVA, carried out by Robert Curbeam and Sunita
Williams. The astronauts will head outside the ISS in their EVA suits
and wait for mission control to switch off the ISS power. Once
permission has been granted, they will unplug existing cables and insert
them into new locations on the ISS.    After completing the 12-day
mission, the crew will return to Earth accompanied by Thomas Reiter, who
will by then have completed his six-month Astrolab mission on the
Station.  His place as flight engineer in the ISS Expedition 14 crew
will be taken by NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. The Shuttle landing at
the Kennedy Space Center is scheduled for no earlier than 18 December at
around 22:04 GMT (23:04 CET).   FURTHER INFORMATION: NASA 
web site

7. NEWS ITEMS: A.  NEW MARS IMAGES STARTING TO FLOOD OVER THE INTERNET
   The team that operates the high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter is releasing the first of what will be a non-stop
flood of incredibly detailed Mars images taken during the spacecraft's
two-year primary science mission. The new images include views of the
Opportunity rover's landing site. See: 
Link

B.  STUDY FINDS THAT A SINGLE IMPACT KILLED THE DINOSAURS    The
dinosaurs, along with the majority of all other animal species on Earth,
went extinct approximately 65 million years ago. Some scientists have
said that the impact of a large meteorite in the Yucatan Peninsula, in
what is today Mexico, caused the mass extinction, while others argue
that there must have been additional meteorite impacts or other stresses
around the same time. See: 
Link

C. INTEGRAL SPACECRAFT CATCHES A NEW ERUPTING BLACK HOLE    The European
Space Agency's gamma-ray observatory, Integral, has spotted a rare kind
of gamma-ray outburst. The vast explosion of energy allowed astronomers
to pinpoint a possible black hole in our galaxy.
See: Link

8. And don't forget the GEMINID Meteors, getting going about December
10, and peaking on December 13/14 - see last alert.

Clear Skies,

Terry Moseley


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