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From: TerryMoselat signaol.com
Date: 11 February 2008 22:36:23 GMT
Subject: Shuttle & ISS, Lectures, IYPE, Total Lunar Eclipse, Name a Scope

Hi all,

 
1. Shuttle and ISS. The space shuttle Atlantis is now docked with the
ISS on its 10-day mission, delivering the Columbus laboratory to the
ISS. The Columbus laboratory is a European Space Agency module, and will
be used by astronauts to carry out experiments in a weightless
environment.   

The combined spacecraft (i.e. they appear just as one
bright starlike object) are currently easily visible to the unaided eye
as they make a series of evening passes over Ireland. At their best,
they are comparable to Jupiter in brightness, and are often the
brightest objects in the night sky, apart from the Moon. You'll need a
good telescope, with accurate and rapid computerised tracking, to see
the detail of the ISS and attached Shuttle, but it's an amazing sight
if you can manage it! See www.heavens-above.com for details of
passes for your own location. Also Iridium Flares, and lots more
besides.    

ESA astronauts Leopold Eyharts from France and Hans Schlegel
from Germany are aboard Atlantis and will help commission the
laboratory. Former fighter pilot Eyharts will then live on the ISS for
the next three months. See: Link 1,  Link 2

2. EVENTS AT ARMAGH: Director of Armagh Observatory, Professor
Mark Bailey, has asked me to publicise two astronomy events in February:
A. 19 February. Armagh Observatory Public Lecture "The Life Story of a
Star: from Birth to Death", 8.00pm, by Professor John Landstreet,
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Western Ontario,
London, Canada. Rotunda Lecture Theatre, St. Patrick's Trian,
Armagh, followed by tea and coffee.     

This public lecture is being
given as part of the Observatory's Science in the Community programme,
and is associated with an International Workshop on the Spectroscopy and
Spectropolarimetry of A and B-type Stars being held at Armagh
Observatory from 18-22 February 2008.     

Synopsis: Most people who look
up at the stars know that these are bodies much like our own Sun. But
how are stars produced? Do they live forever? If not, what happens to
them? This illustrated talk will answer some of these questions by
describing how astronomers have come to understand the life stories of
single stars, from the time they are born out of giant gas clouds
somewhere in our Milky Way galaxy, through mature middle age, until
finally they collapse to become tiny remnants of their former selves,
possibly even a black hole.    

The lecture is free of charge, but owing
to limitations of space, numbers may be limited. To obtain tickets, 
please write, telephone or e-mail to: Mrs Aileen McKee, Armagh 
Observatory,  College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG; Tel: 028-3752-2928; Fax:
028-3752-7174;  e-mail: ambnat signarm.ac.uk.
(see Link 3 and Link 4); 

B. A special
"Meet the Astronomers at Armagh" event during the day on Wednesday 20th February
(see Link 5).   
These events are free and open to all.  For tickets please contact Mrs
Aileen McKee by e-mail at ambnat signarm.ac.uk or telephone the Observatory:
028-3752-2928. For general information see the website star.arm.ac.uk.

3. 20 February: IAA PUBLIC LECTURE: Wednesday 20 February, 7.30 p.m.
Prof Chris Dainty, NUIG: "The prospect of Adaptive Optics for Small
Telescopes". The Bell lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's
University, Belfast.  Prof Dainty is one of the world's leading experts
on adaptive optics, and we are delighted and honoured to have him
lecture to us. Adaptive optics enable photos exceeding the quality of
those of the Hubble Space Telescope to be taken by certain telescopes on
Earth. Prof Dainty will describe how it will soon be possible to use
this technique on the larger size of amateur telescopes - an amazing
prospect. Don't miss this! Admission free, including light refreshments.
All welcome.    

The IAA lecture programme is held in association with
the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's University Belfast.
See: www.irishastro.org

4. TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE, 21 February, 03.26. This eclipse will be visible
throughout Ireland, weather permitting.    

In a Total Lunar Eclipse
(TLE) the Full Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth and dims very
considerably and changes colour, but usually remains faintly visible,
lit by sunlight refracted through the Earth s atmosphere. The atmosphere
scatters blue light more than red, so that most of the light that
reaches the lunar surface is red in colour. Observers will therefore see
a Moon that may be anything from brick-coloured, through
orange, rust-coloured, or even blood red. Sometimes it has a dark
greyish hue, depending on atmospheric conditions.


    In these islands the eclipse is visible at a rather unsociable hour!
It begins at 00.35 when the Moon enters the penumbra, the lightest,
outer part of the Earth s shadow, and after 15 minutes or so you may
notice the Moon start to take on a slight yellowish hue. At 01.42 the
Moon starts to enter the dark core of the Earth s shadow, the umbra. At
03.01 the Moon will be completely within the umbra   which marks the
start of the  total  phase of the eclipse, when any colour starts to
become most noticeable. Mid-eclipse is at 03.26 and the total phase ends
at 03.52. The Moon leaves the umbra at 05.09 and the eclipse ends when
the Moon leaves the penumbra at 06.17.    

The Moon will pass well to the
South of the centre of the Earth's shadow, so the S edge (actually the
SSW edge) of the Moon will not appear so dark, as it will be closer to
the edge of the shadow. Conversely, the NNE edge of the Moon will appear
darkest.    

During the eclipse the Moon lies in the constellation of
Leo. During mid-eclipse Regulus will lie to the upper right of the Moon
and Saturn will lie to the left.    

This eclipse should be a spectacular
sight and the whole event can be observed without optical aid, although
binoculars or a wide-field telescope will also give interesting views.

N.B. But contrary to information being promulgated by a
well-known astronomical organisation based in Dublin, this is NOT "the
last Total Eclipse of the Moon we will see from Ireland for 8 years."
The maximum phase of the TLE of 21 December, 2010, will be visible
throughout Ireland. The following table gives the altitude of the Moon
in degrees for major cities across Ireland for the start of the total
phase, and for mid-totality, i.e. maximum eclipse:

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE, 21/12/2010
CITY               START TOT.              MID TOT.
Belfast               7.8                    3.6
Derry/L'derry         8.6                    4.4
Dublin                7.3                    3.0
Cork                  7.8                    3.2
Galway                8.7                    4.2
Limerick              8.2                    3.7
Waterford             7.2                    2.8

Thus even for Waterford, the least favoured of those locations, the Moon
will be more than 5 lunar diameters above the horizon at maximum
eclipse. And in Derry/Londonderry, ALL of the total phase is visible. It
may not be ideal, but at least it IS visible throughout Ireland! Just to
get the facts right.....

  5. IYPE LECTURE, 21 February: As part of 'International Year of Planet
Earth', Prof. Richard Forte is giving a lecture at W5 on Thursday 21 Feb
at 7 PM. The title is:   

A history of life on Earth . Free tickets can
be obtained by telephoning the Ordnance Survey (90388462). They can
e-mail (or post) the tickets.  It should be a  fascinating talk. 

6. NASA WANTS A NAME: Would you like to name the next great space telescope?
Here's your chance: NASA is inviting members of the general public to
suggest a new name for 'GLAST' the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope
before it launches in mid-2008. See: Link 6

Clear skies,
 
Terry Moseley.
 

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Last Revised: 2008 February 12th
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