From: TerryMoselat

Date: 31 March 2015 20:35:03 BST

Subject: Eclipse reports, ISS, Fireball, Easter events, IAA public events, ESO, Obs nites

Hi all,


1:  IAA LECTURE: Next IAA public lecture:  April 01, 7.30 p.m. by Dr Kate Russo, Dr Andy McCrea and IAA Members: "The Great Solar Eclipse of March 20th".  

Since Kate Russo and I were beaten by clouds in the Faroes, there will be a slight change in presentation compared with the planned format. I'll not be presenting at all, but Kate will give an account of our experience in the Faroes, and Dr Andy McCrea who was lucky enough to get a last minute cancellation for a seat on a high altitude jet flight to see it, will give his account & show his amazing photos.

  Then there will be short presentations by other IAA members who led or helped at our local events, all of which had at least some success, and some were really good!

And just to show those who missed totality could have seen, look at this APOD!

Big congratulations to Miloslav Druckmüller, Shadia Habbal, Peter Aniol and Pavel Štarha for having their wonderful image presented as today's APOD:

      The lecture is free and open to all, including free refreshments. Venue: 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. ISS The ISS will commence a new series of morning passes over Ireland on 4 April. Full details for your own location, along with lots of other up to date astronomical information, on the excellent FREE site Also try the ISS Spotter by Mediapilot 


3. Another Bright Fireball, 29 March. Donald Ferguson reports another fireball, at 2014 BST observed from Kensington Rd Belfast heading roughly northwest. Brilliant white head, orange tail.  First seen at an angle of 30 deg above horizon, disappeared just less than 20 deg above horizon, heading 330 deg true. It was brighter than Venus; also brighter than the brightest Iridium flare I have ever seen (minus 7 or minus 8?). 

   It was bigger and brighter than the ISS, and had it been the same size as the full moon, it could well have been brighter than that too.

   Did anyone else see that one?

The previous fireball seen on 25 March was also reported to Armagh Observatory; See their website.


4. Easter Events at Armagh Planetarium: Monday 30 March-Saturday 11 April *(Please note we are closed on Sundays and Friday 3rd April)

Times: 10am-5pm.  Digital Theatre Shows playing at 11, 12, 1, 2, 3 & 4pm 

11am - Little Yellow Star

12pm - Perfect Little Planet

1pm - Astronaut

2pm - Experience the Aurora 

3pm - Sun, Moon and Stars

4pm - We are Aliens

Cost: Workshops are free*   *Normal Admission applies to Digital Theatre shows

For more information call us on 02837 523689 or

Pre-booking essential for Digital Theatre shows

5. Space event at Blackrock Castle, Cork, 3 & 10 April: The European Space Agency’s Philae Lander made the news in November 2014 when it became the first spacecraft to land (three times!) on a comet. This Easter, CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory are giving 8-12 year olds the chance to re-live the monumental astronomical experience by designing and testing their own model comet landers! Taking place this Friday April 3 or April  10th from 11am – 12:30 pm, space craft engineers will work in small groups to design and make model landers from everyday equipment. Explore the science behind Philae, why does Philae have three legs? How do solar panels work that far out in space? Marvel at the massive model of Comet 67P in the castle courtyard and get up to date with the latest comet science. Places are €10 each and booking essential. Call 021 4326120 or email infoat 

Also:  Dr Niamh Shaw is going ToSpace and with your support we are helping her get there! Join her at 19:00 as she performs her critically acclaimed one woman show ToSpace.

At 20:00 follow us on ‘Journeys of Exploration’, a family-friendly promenade production with Snatch Comedy. 400 years of time travelling tales will be told through a vivid storytelling adventure in a highly interactive show around the Castle grounds. 

April 28; 19:00 - 21:00.  Tickets are €10 each - booking advised as capacity is limited. All proceeds towards getting Dr Niamh Shaw ToSpace. 


6. IAA Public event at Cullyhanna, Co Armagh, 11 April

Another one of our popular outreach events, in a new dark sky venue. More details next time. 


7. IAA Public event at St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon, 24 April.

And we've been invited back to this venue as well. More details next time. 


8. Petition for Ireland to join ESO:

The UCD Physics Society has started a petition for the Government to apply for Ireland to jon the European Southern Observatory:

All recipients are encouraged to sign. (Per Prof Lorraine Hanlon) 


9. IAA Observing Nights.  

There will probably be a change of location for the next session, so watch this space. These very popular weekend observing sessions have recommenced, with the nights of April 10 - 11 as next option.  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, and for dates for next session: If cloudy, we'll try again on the next date on the list.…


10. IAA AGM. The IAA's AGM will be held on 15 April. Details were sent out with the last email bulletin. We will also have a 'Bring & Buy' sale, and Tony Kempston will have his amazing new version of Oculus Rift, the 3-D Virtual Reality Universe. You have to try it!


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

Speakers include - Professor John Zarnecki, Director, International Space Science Institute, Switzerland.
- Mr. Brian Harvey, Spaceflight Writer and Broadcaster.
- Mr. Nick Howes, Astronomer and Freelance Science Writer.
- Ms. Kate Russo, Author, Psychologist and Eclipse Chaser.
- Mr. Keith Geary, Astronomer and Astrophotographer.
- Mr. Steve Richards, Author, Astronomer and Astrophotographer.
- Ms. Deirdre Kelleghan, St. Cronan's Stargazers and Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies.
- Mr. Emmett Mordaunt, Midlands Astronomy Club.
   The programme also includes an all-inclusive trip on Sunday morning to Birr Castle and stand in the shadow of the Leviathan, once the world's largest telescope.


12. ARCHAEOASTRONOMY TRIP TO NEWGRANGE and KNOWTH, 9 May 2015, These trips have proved so popular that as soon as I got back from the last one, Stranmillis University College Institute of LifeLong Learning asked me to lead another one next spring!  Like the last one, the next trip will include 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 will open later, but if you want to go, note the date in your diary: Sat 9 May. More details when the new brochure comes out.

13. New publication on archaeoastronomy by Frank Prendergast:

In this inaugural volume, Frank has a paper on Grange (B) Stone Circle.



14. Precession Adjustment.

As most of you know, the Earth's 26,000 year Precessional wobble causes the Celestial Poles to move around the starfield - The North Celestial Pole currently lies near Polaris, but when the very first star maps were drawn up it lay closer to Thuban in Draco

  Many of you will also know that Precession has also caused the 'First Point of Aries' to regress into neighbouring Pisces.  See

   The 'First Point of Aries' is the name given to the point where the Ecliptic crosses the Celestial Equator, and is the point from which all Right Ascension measurements are made. Thus it is the astronomical equivalent of the Greenwich Meridian. But it makes no sense if the FP of Aries is in Pisces!

   And of course the points along the ecliptic marking the Sun's greatest Northerly and Southerly declinations, and thus marking the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (shown on any Atlas), are now in Gemini and Sagittarius respectively.

   The effect also means that star maps have to be redrawn every so often to allow for the change in the Right Ascension and Declination, according to Standard Epochs as set by the International Astronomical Union. Thus my first edition of Norton's Star Atlas was drawn up for Epoch 1950, and the latest one is Epoch 2000.

     It has thus been decided to rename those marker points accordingly. They will therefore now be known as the First Point of Pisces, and the Tropic of Gemini, and Tropic of Sagittarius, respectively. Spokesperson Flora Pilo announced that the change would come into effect tomorrow, but that the names on atlases etc only need to be changed when new editions are printed.


15. IAA Telescopes for loan: The IAA has telescopes available to borrow, for any paid up member  Enquiries to David Stewart david.stewart22at or Andy McCrea s.mccrea980at 



SKELLIGS Star Party: 14-16 August, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry.  This is a Gold Medal winning Dark Sky site.  see 

AI 'Star-B-Q': 15 August, An Tochar GAA Grounds, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow.


17. Interesting Weblinks: Andy McCrea and I saw something very similar to this quite a few years ago - he was in Bangor, and I was in my car driving to Belfast. We compared notes by phone. We saw them simultaneously, although so far apart, so they were not local. We assumed that they were due to some form of high altitude clear-sky lightning. I hope none escape and get into any of the spacesuits to be used for a spacewalk....  Mercury's albedo is 0.11, the Moon is 0.12, and Mars is 0.15. For comparison, Earth is 0.37, and Venus is 0.65. Note the contribution by Ernst de Mooj at QUB Is that a project which can properly be described as 'massive'? So Dark Matter is a dark fluid. Possible source - St James's Gate, Dublin? This may be tempting, but I would advise caution. Oh Crumbs! You need Earth type lava, and the right gradient, for such tubes to form. I'm still waiting for an explanation as to how this is relevant to landing humans on Mars. It would certainly be useful for an 'asteroid-redirect' mission to protect Earth, but that's another story.  If DM makes up 80% of the matter in the universe, surely the Gamma Ray signal should be so strong that it would be detectable as an excess over all other sources from normal galaxies too. If not, then our theories of what else produces gamma rays are greatly over-estimating the amount produced by ordinary matter. but see -

Dusty cloud passing Milky Way's BH

Evidence for Groundwater on Mars

Intelligent people's erroneous beliefs 

magnetic fields influence star formation

Earthlike 'Tatooines' may be common


18.  TWITTER Follow the IAA on Twitter: at signIaaAstro.


19. 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