August 2009


IAA/IYA 2009 –"Space and Aliens Competition"

There is still time to enter this competition – deadline now 30th November!

  • As part of International Year of Astronomy 2009, the Irish Astronomical Association (IAA) is running a major public competition, with substantial prizes, for all ages, and in various categories, so that anyone can enter.  Full details here…


Excellent M27 image

  • Is this the Hubble Space telescope? No, this image of the Dumbell Nebula in Vulpecula, or M27, was taken by Past President of the IAA, Dr Andy McCrea from Bangor, with the Moon only 20 degrees away in the sky. Not bad at all considering this was Andy's first outing with his Orion ODK12 telescope!


  • The IAA has once again been honoured in being asked by Bru na Boinne, better known as Newgrange, to put on a special astronomy exhibition for their annual 'Heritage week', in conjunction with Armagh Observatory (AO). This comprises the amazing 'From the Earth To The Universe' (FETTU) exhibition of the best astronomical images ever taken, which is one of the cornerstone projects of IYA2009. Printed in A0 size, on high quality paper, the exhibition runs along one complete wall of the Visitors Centre, with another third of a wall on an upper level. Organised with invaluable assistance from Dr Miruna Popescu at AO, the event also comprises a DVD, the Sun in 3-D, telescope display, solar imaging if clear, and various other fun and interactive exhibits, mainly for children


On the first two days there was an amazing amount of interest from the visitors at Newgrange, which is the most popular visited site in ROI.

A Gallery of photos from the event is here…

Another set of photos is on the IYA 2009 Ireland site here…

Heritage Week runs until 30 August, but the exhibition will remain there for at least another week.



IAA on the BBC

Terry Moseley and Philip Baxter on Radio Ulster

Image Credit: Paul Evans

  • Current and Past Presidents of the IAA, Philip Baxter and Terry Moseley, appeared on the BBC Radio Ulster  programme "Your Place & Mine" on the morning of Saturday 15th August. The plan had been to cover Solar Observing from the roof of Broadcasting House, however the weather had other ideas! Presenter Helen Mark introduced these two as "The Men with Stars in their Eyes". Listen to the clip here… (MP3)

Delamont Perseid Watch Success

  • Over 20 members of the IAA and friends congregated at Delamont Country Park in County Down on the evening of Weds 12th August for a Perseid Watch. First off, we had a "fry-up" just for a change from the usual BBQ. The weather was in the balance, however by 2200 BST the sky was beginning to clear as darkness fell and it became apparent that we were "game on".

Meteors began to streak across the sky, some very fast, a few quite bright with smoke trails, all spectacular. As we entered the period between the Sun going down and the Moon coming up the sky became very dark indeed – this is a good dark site – and many meteors were spotted, my own personal tally being 15, my wife beat me with 24 though I was attending to the camera!

Of those we've seen so far, the first photographic capture, at 2236BST, was caught by Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of QUB…UPDATE – this has been confirmed as the winner of the first photo capture of the evening – a mystery prize is on its way to Prof Fitzsimmons!


Image Credit: Alan Fitzsimmons

The meteors came in thick and fast after that with these two being caught by myself at 2258 and 2259BST…

Perseid Meteor

Perseid meteor

Image credits: Paul Evans

IAA Treasurer Pat O'Neill caught this excellent Perseid in a wide shot at 0113 BST…

Perseid Meteor

Image Credit: Pat O'Neill

By this time the moonlight and cloud were bringing the night to an end, but we did get to see Jupiter' Moons in all their splendour – another story!

Astronomy in Northern Ireland and Beyond