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Big Wild Sleep Out – Saturday 10th August 4pm until late

Come along to a world first for the RSPB and National Museums Northern Ireland!

For one night only you and your family can experience the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum like never before – all night long!

Join us from 4pm where, along with our friends at Cotswold Outdoors, we’ll help you set up your tent and prepare for a camping experience like no other.  Bring a supper and enjoy it around the campfire (and don’t forget to pack plenty of munchies to keep you going through the night!) before exploring all the museum grounds have to offer.

There will be lots of activities for everyone to enjoy from moth trapping and bat detecting, nature trails, and a movie in the cinema if you fancy spending a bit of time indoors to recharge your batteries.  Don’t stay inside too long though as we’ll be perfectly placed to watch nature’s very own firework display – the Perseids Meteor shower – take place overhead with help from the Irish Astronomical Assocaition.

There will be lots of arts and crafts as well and plenty of chances to make homes for nature that you can take away with you!  And of course, no camping experience would be completed without a singsong and some storytelling around the campfire! You’ll eventually turn in for the night to be woken by the savoury smells of a delicious cooked breakfast waiting for you the following morning. You can also avail of a reduced entry into the Museum the next day.

Tickets cost £16 per adult, £12 per child (under 16), which includes breakfast in the morning.

RSPB members receive a 10% discount off their ticket price! Just quote your membership number when you call to book – this can be found on your membership card.  If you can’t find it, just let us know.

Cotswold are also offering a 10% discount to all ticket holders for this event in their Castle Land and Boucher Road stores so you can get everything you'll need to sleep out in nature!

Book your place today by calling the team at RSPB Northern Ireland on 028 9049 1547 or call into our office and pick up your ticket in person.  You can find us at Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast, Co. Antrim, BT8 7QT (just off Belvoir Drive, head for the trees!  Our office is on the left by the car park).  Places are limited so don’t delay on booking your place for a wild night out like no other!

Smile for the Camera – Saturn Night 19th July

Pictures from ths event here….

The Observing Event will be held at Delamont Country Park – Bring your own BBQ if required from 9pm onwards – Saturn Observing from darkness – circa 10pm onwards.

On July 19, 2013, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will photograph Saturn and its entire ring system during a total eclipse of the sun.  Cassini has done this twice before during its previous 9 years in orbit, but this time will be different.

"This time, the images to be collected will capture, in natural colour, a glimpse of our own planet next to Saturn and its rings on a day that will be the first time Earthlings know in advance their picture will be taken from a billion miles away," says Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

 "While Earth will be only about a pixel in size from Cassini's vantage point 1.44 billion kilometres away, the team is looking forward to giving the world a chance to see what their home looks like from Saturn. We hope you'll join us in waving at Saturn from Earth, so we can commemorate this special opportunity."

Unlike two previous Cassini eclipse mosaics of the Saturn system the July 19 image will be the first to capture the Saturn system with Earth in natural colour, as human eyes would see it. It also will be the first to capture Earth and its moon with Cassini's highest-resolution camera.

This latest image will continue a NASA legacy of space-based images of our fragile home, including the 1968 "Earthrise" image taken by the Apollo 8 moon mission from about 240,000 miles (380,000 kilometres) away and the 1990 "Pale Blue Dot" image taken by Voyager 1 from about 4 billion miles (6 billion kilometres) away. July 19th, concludes Porco, "will be a day for people all over the globe to celebrate together the extraordinary achievements that have made such interplanetary photo sessions possible. And it will be a day to celebrate life on the Pale Blue Dot."

The Irish Astronomical Association will also be holding a special Saturn Observing Event at  Delamont Country Park. This imaging event will take place between 22:27 and 22:42 BST, and Saturn will be visible in the twilight sky low in the SW, so we'll be in the picture.

IAA Past President in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Terry Moseley, currently PR Officer of the IAA, and previously President for 3 stints of 3 years each, has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours. This award is given for meritous service worthy of recognition by the Crown – in Terry's case for Services to Astronomy Education. This medal was awarded from 1922-92 and was revived by David Cameron only last year (2012).

Terry had this to say:- "I was delighted to get this award, which is a tribute to the work done in public outreach by many members of the IAA. I'd like to dedicate it to the late Sir Patrick Moore, who started and encouraged my interest in astronomy, and whose limitless enthusiasm and dedication was an example to everyone. I have simply tried to pass on to others the tremendous enjoyment I've got from this most fascinating of subjects."

So congratulations from all of us at the IAA to Terry Moseley, BEM!

15th June Carnfunnock – IAA Solar Day/Midsummer BBQ

On Saturday 15th June the IAA will be returning to Carnfunnock Country Park after successful visits in the past.This venue offers tremendous scenery looking out towards Scotland across the North Channel and boasts a maze in the shape of Northern Ireland and also the biggest collection of sundials in Ireland.

We will be there between 2pm and 5pm with the annual IAA Midsummer BBQ/Picnic afterwards. Astronomical exhibitions/paraphernalia will be on display and also the Mobile Planetarium with shows for the young and old. Solar observing through filtered white light and Hydrogen Alpha telescopes will take place outside, weather permitting of course!. The former are best at showing sunspots while the latter scopes show prominences and filaments on the Sun, and with the Solar maximum well into its stride, there should be plenty of both on offer for everyone!

Afterwards the IAA will be holding their annual midsummer BBQ on the grounds, again weather permitting.



14th June Glenavy – IAA Astronomy Evening

The IAA will be presenting another evening of astronomy at Glenavy on Friday 14 June as part of the Glenavy Fun Week.

The event will run from 7 to 10 pm, with shows taking place in the Mobile Planetarium(Stardome). Telescopes and binoculars will be on display, with exhibitions of meteorites and space memorabilia. Weather permitting, we'll be observing a nice crescent Moon, and if we are lucky, be able to catch a view of Mercury and Venus.

Noctilucent Cloud Season gets underway – Pictures

The 2013 Noctilucent Cloud Season has kicked off to an electric start with a magnificently bright display starting almost immediately after sunset on 30th May. The display continued until the sky lightened after 0230 on 31st, though it was somewhat subdued by this time.

There will doubtless be more of these displays visible during the rest of the season which runs until the beginning of August. Look to the North an hour or so after sunset any time until the oncoming dawn lightens the sky.
These clouds form in the Mesosphere near the pole and are visible due to sunlight reflecting off them from the other sid of the pole. Northern Ireland is an ideal location from which to view them – further north the sky is too light to see them, further south and they are too far away This display was very early and is indicative of a good season to come!

Conjunction of Three Planets

For a few days around Sunday 26th May, a close three-way conjunction of planets Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will be visible in the NW sky for a while shortly after sunset. Venus will be the brightest, followed by Jupiter, but on 26th Mercury will be the highest above the horizon of the three, so if you're part of the estimated 99% of the population who have never seen Mercury, now is possibly the best chance you will get! The three planets will all be within 2 degrees, or four moon diameters of each other and will remain close in the evenings before and after 26th.

As we move into June, Jupiter will sink below the horizon but Venus and Mercury will carry on rising together to be joined by the Crescent Moon on 9th and 10th Mercury reaches it greatest altitude on 8th and 9th then moves back towards the Sun.

The usual safety consideration applies – do not start to look for these planets until the Sun is very definitely below the horizon! 

Annual General Meeting – 17th April 2013

Wednesday 17th April marks the date of the 39th Annual General Meeting of the Association. The purposes of the meeting are to review the activities of the past year, elect a new Council for the coming year and for the Council to receive feedback from the membership on how they – that’s you – would like to see the Association develop.

We have also had a sub-committee sitting to decide whether or not the prestigious Aidan P Fitzgerald Award should be awarded this year, and if so, who the recipient should be. This award is given no more than once a year for “Outstanding Service to the Association” and is named after one of the leading members of the Association in the 1940s and 50s.

Once the main business is over we will provide some entertainment in the form of a short talk by Terry Moseley, our PR Officer and 9 years Past President ac repair temecula in nerby. In the season in which we sadly lost Sir Patrick Moore, surely the best ambassador anybody could have had, Terry, who knew Sir Patrick personally during his time at Armagh, will share some anecdotes from that time.

The evening will finish with a Bring and Buy sale, so if you have any pieces of gear you don’t use any more that could be useful to someone else, bring them along and see if a deal can be done!

IAA Lecture 3rd April 2013 – Prof Alan Fitzsimmons – “Data Mining The Asteroid Belt”

The Pan-STARRS1 telescope is the largest telescope currently used to systematically survey the sky for comets and asteroids. Since starting in 2010, it has been used to make over 4 million detections of comets, asteroid and other Solar system bodies. This cornucopia of data is allowing us to study many different regions from Near-Earth space to the Kuiper Belt. In this talk Professor Alan Fitzsimmons will describe how Pan-STARRS1 works, how asteroids and comets are found, and what we have discovered so far.

Admission is free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome.

This lecture will as usual be in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, main QUB Campus, start time is 7:30pm sharp.

IAA Lecture – Andrew Dennis – Andor Technologies – “Andor & Cutting Edge Astronomy”

Andor Technologies is a Belfast based company manufacturing a ranges of cameras including some which are capable of high-end astrophotography. The company grew out of the Physics Department of Queens University Belfast and now supplies cameras to the world market. Some of the topics covered by the lecture will include:-

·         Lucky Imaging

·         Hunting for Extra Solar Planets using various techniques

·         Andor’s involvement in the development of the Curiosity (Mars) Rover

·         The Sofia Flying Telescope (it’s a 14 tonne telescope in a Boeing 747)

·         Adaptive Optics

·         Tracking space junk, mapping the Kuiper belt and tracking comets.

·         And a few other things

This will not be done in huge depth and will not assume a great level of knowledge on the part of the audience. This promises to be a most interesting and involving talk, particularly for those interested in photographing the Cosmos!

Admission is free billigaste mobil abonne mang barn, including light refreshments, and all are welcome.

This lecture will as usual be in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics building, main QUB Campus, start time is 7:30pm sharp.