Category Archives: Event

Lecture Weds 20th Nov 7:30pm – Dr Meg Schwamb (QUB) “New Perspectives Big and Small of the Trans-Neptunian Region”

Pluto resides beyond Neptune orbiting in a sea of small icy bodies in the Trans-Neptunian Region. These distant objects are truly the fossils relics left over after our Solar System’s formation. Digging into the orbits, dynamics, and physical properties of these bodies provide new insights and windows into the origins and past history of the outer Solar System. This includes hints of a possibly unseen planet or an event long-since erased from the rest of the Solar System with http://Insanejackpot.com. In this talk, I’ll explore the changing views of the outer Solar System from the discoveries of ground-based surveys to the New Horizons fly-bys of the Pluto system and Arrokoth.

 
Bio:
 
Dr Meg Schwamb is an lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast. Meg’s research focuses on how planets and their building blocks form and evolve, applying ground-based surveys to probe our Solar System’s small body reservoirs. She is also involved in the Planet Four citizen science projects, which enlists the public to help study the seasonal processes of the Martian south pole and map the distribution of ridges on the Martian mid-latitudes. Meg also serves as co-chair of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope’s Solar System Science Collaboration. Meg was awarded the 2017 Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science from the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Science.
 
Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB – details here……
 
With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.
 

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.

 

TRANSIT OF MERCURY, 11th November

A Transit occurs when one of the inner planets (Mercury or Venus) passes across the disc of the Sun as seen from Earth.
   The closest planet to the Sun, little Mercury, transits the Sun only 13 times per century on average.
    The last Mercury transit was on 9 May 2016, and the next one won’t be until 2032 Nov 13. This transit will have the longest duration of any until the one on 2190 Nov 12.
 
 Because Mercury is quite small, and quite far from Earth, you need optical aid to see it. But this can be done only with special safe equipment. The IAA will be holding a public observing event to let everyone see the transit (weather permitting) at the Divis Car Park, where you can watch it in complete safety.
LOCAL DETAILS (for Belfast)
   The transit lasts from 12.35 – 18.04 UT, but the Sun sets before then throughout Ireland.
Mid transit = 15h 20m 57s,
   Mercury will first appear on the Sun’s disc as a tiny black dot a bit to the South of the East edge of the Sun, and will appear to move across to the West (Right) side of the Sun’s disc
OBSERVING ALTITUDE and DIRECTION
The Sun will be just past South as the transit begins, and at an altitude of only 18 degrees above the horizon. As the transit progresses the Sun will be moving towards the West, and getting lower in the sky, so you’ll need a good clear view to the South and Southwest in order to see most of the event.
 
   SAFE VIEWING: Like anything involving observing the Sun, eye safety is paramount. You should NEVER look directly at the Sun with any sort of optical instrument, or you will seriously damage your eyes, with possible permanent blindness.
 The only safe ways to observe and photograph this event are described on the IAA website; www.irishastro.org:
 
 WATCHING THE TRANSIT SAFELY.
The IAA will have a public observing event at the Divis Mountain Car Park, which is off the Divis road, which is off the B38.
TIME: from 12.30 to sunset (if the sky is clear)
The car park is on Divis Rd at N 54.5992635; W -6.0402635. Walk from there the short distance to
the site of the Barn Café, along the road towards Divis mountain..
   We will be there from about 12.30, and stay to sunset, or when clouds beat us. If the weather looks absolutely hopeless, check the IAA website for updates on whether we’ll be there or not.
NB: this is quite an exposed site, so dress warmly from head to toe!
   For more information see: www.irishastro.org
 
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The Irish Astronomical Association is a registered charity dedicated to promoting interest in, and information about, astronomy and space and related topics. It is the oldest and largest astronomical society based in N. Ireland, and the largest amateur astronomy society in Ireland.
2. 1st Contact (when the edge of Mercury first appears to ingress on the Sun) = 12h 35m 18s,
3. 2nd Contact (when the whole disc of Mercury first appears totally silhouetted on the Sun)  = 12h 36m 58s.
4. Mercury will be 101 million km from Earth at the time of the transit
5. The IAA runs public events throughout the year, including free public lectures at QUB, and public outreach events in various locations throughout Northern Ireland, details of which are available on the website:

Lecture Weds 6th Nov 7:30pm – Mike Foylan (Cherryvalley Observatory) – “Backyard Science for the Amateur Astronomer – Research isn’t Just for the Professionals!”

Amateur astronomer Mike Foylan became interested in Astronomy at the age of 5, receiving his first telescope as a gift from his father at the age of ten. Since then he has become a keen amateur astronomer establishing in 2010, Cherryvalley Observatory based in the small village of Rathmolyon in rural Co Meath, Ireland. 

Amateur astronomer Mike Foylan became interested in Astronomy at the age of 5, receiving his first telescope as a gift from his father at the age of ten. Since then he has become a keen amateur astronomer establishing in 2010, Cherryvalley Observatory based in the small village of Rathmolyon in rural Co Meath, Ireland. The observatory was awarded a recognised observatory code (I83) by the IAU (International Astronomical Union) and MPC (Minor Planet Centre) in 2011.
 
Its work primarily focuses on astrometry (position measuring) and photometry (light measurements) of minor planets (asteroids). He is also a member of the British Astronomical Association, Meath Astronomy Group and has affiliations with Kingsland Observatory based near Boyle County Roscommon Ireland which carries out primarily solar system studies and developing instrumented technologies for SETV research (Search for Extraterrestrial Visitation).
 
Cherryvalley observatory is also affiliated to NEMETODE (Network for Meteor Triangulation and Orbit Determination) which undertakes research into the nature of meteors using off-the-shelf equipment, a joint venture among amateur and professional astronomers across the UK and Ireland.
Cherryvalley observatory has a number of authored and co-authored peer reviewed papers published in the Minor Planet Bulletin, Journal of the British Astronomical Association and the WGN, the Journal of the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) in collaboration with colleagues and friends from the UK, USA, Italy and Ireland.
 
The Observatory’s main instrument is an 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (SCT) fitted with an SBIG-STL 1301E CCD Camera and Optec robotic focuser with photometric filters on a modified Celestron CG5-GT EQ mount.
In his spare time  he help’s out as a volunteer citizen scientist at Dunsink Observatory Dublin, now part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies as part of their programme of meetings, workshops, and public outreach.
 
 
Talk synopsis
 
With the advent of better hardware and software technologies available for amateur astronomers Mike will demonstrate how the amateur astronomer can utilise such technologies to perform valuable scientific work using modest equipment from ones back garden using examples from Cherryvalley Observatory’s work on Meteors and Minor Planets and how such amateur backyard work can lead to new (if accidental) discoveries!
 
 
Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB – details here……
 
With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.
 

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.

Lecture, Wednesday 23rd October, 7.30 p.m.Dr Ernst de Mooij (QUB) “Looking for rings and gas around exoplanets”

There are now over 4,000 exoplanets known, with over 3,000 positively confirmed. They have an amazing range of sizes, masses, temperatures and orbital periods, and orbit a variety of different types of stars, including some similar to the Sun, and some quite close to Earth. We’re now approaching the point where it may be possible to detect life in some cases, if it exists.

Abstract:

The first exoplanet around a Sun-like star was discovered almost 25 years ago – a discovery that has won this year’s Nobel prize. Since that time, the field of exoplanet studies has taken a large leap forward. See www.wowtradesman.co.uk for more info. Not only have we now discovered over 3000 planets outside of our Solar System, but we have started to probe their atmospheres. We have even identified a potential giant ring system with a diameter of approximately 90 million kilometers!

In this talk I will show how we can find planets, study their atmospheres, and how we can move forward to search for rings around planets outside of the Solar System.

Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB – details here……

 
With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.
 

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.

Lecture, Wednesday 9th October, 7.30 p.m. “Measuring the brightness of stars from space: flares, outbursts, exoplanets and the inside of stars.” by Dr Gavin Ramsay (AOP)

Abstract:

The talk will outline how astronomers can answer important questions by carefully measuring the brightness of stars and how amateur astronomers have played an important part. It will also highlight the benefits of making such observations from space and will chart the capabilities and science which have come from satellites such as MOST, Corot, Kepler and TESS and look forward to the future Plato mission.

Gavin has lectured to us before, and explains things in a clear an simple way, so everyone should be able to enjoy this talk.

Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB – details here……

 
With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.
 

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.

IAA Public Lecture, 25th September. Dr Mike Simms (UM): “1969; a special year for space rocks (and not just from the Moon)”

Mike is one of Ireland‘s leading meteorite experts, and has given us many fascinating lectures before. This one focuses on 3 very significant meteorite falls which, coincidentally, occurred in the same year as the first retrieved rocks from the Moon. One of those was the famous Bovedy Meteorite, that last one known to fall in N. Ireland. A fascinating talk is to be expected, delivered in Mike’s inimitable style. 

 

Summary of Mike’s talk:

 
1969 was an auspicious time for rocks from Space. Meteorite falls at Bovedy in Northern Ireland, Allende in Mexico, and Murchison in Australia, all led to breakthroughs in our understanding of the early Solar System. Rocks brought back by Apollos 11 and 12 gave us our first chance to find out if the Moon really was made of cheese looking for more information. And a chance discovery down in Antarctica was to have a fundamental influence on the future of meteoritics for decades to come.

 

Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments avondale.uptownjungle.com. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB – details here……

 
With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.
 

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.

IAA Apollo Celebrations

There is huge interest in the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 and to this effect the IAA has two exhibitions running featuring memorabilia from the time as well as a talk on the subject by IAA Past president and IFAS Chair Paul Evans.

One exhibition runs over the weekend 6th and 7th July at Portballintrae Village Hall This is open from 10:30 – 16:00 on both days and there will be a talk “Navigation Through the Ages” in the main hall at 15:00 on the Sunday by IAA President Brian Beesley

The other exhibition is currently open and runs until 31st July in the Bangor Carnegie Library

On 18th July at 15:00 Paul Evans will give a talk on the subject “Apollo 11: To the Moon and back half a century ago”. This covers the story, starting in 1944, of why and how they went to the Moon.

Lecture – Weds 4th December 7:30pm – Dr Matt Redman, NUIG. “The shaping of planetary nebulae”

Synopsis: Planetary nebulae often exhibit stunning shapes and intricate features, but it is a long-standing puzzle as to how such a wide range of shapes can arise because the stars from which they form are spherical. Binary companions offer one way to break the symmetry, but there are not enough of them in close orbits to account for the numbers of non-spherical planetary nebulae. Instead, we examine whether exoplanets, engulfed at the end of the stars life, can be responsible for the shaping. The talk will be illustrated with many examples of planetary nebulae, including the intriguing Boomerang Nebula, which is currently the coldest object ever observed in space.  
Biography: Dr Matt Redman is Director of the Centre for Astronomy NUI Galway, and is Chair of the Astronomical Sciences Group of Ireland, the professional association for astronomers in Ireland. His research interests are in star formation and star destruction processes. Matt uses radio and millimetre telescope data to look inside star forming molecular clouds, and optical and millimetre data for studying planetary nebulae, novae and supernova remnants. He works at the observational and theory interface, simulating data from telescopes using state of the art computer codes, find the best developer bootcamps. His work has been supported by SFI and IRC grants, an equipment grant for I-LOFAR, and through telescope time awards. 
Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB – details here……
With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.

Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building , QUB, 7.30pm

All welcome. Free admission, including light refreshments.

Weds 17th April – 45th Annual General Meeting, Apollo 11 short talk and Observatory tour

Wednesday 17th April marks the date of the 45th 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.

 

This year there will be two additional features to add to the formal business.

Firstly, Past President Paul Evans will bring his Apollo at 50 series of talks up to date with a short talk about Apollo 11 – the mission that achieved President Kennedy’s goal of Landing a Man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

Secondly, Prof Alan Fitzsimmons will run tours of the Observatory on top of the Physics Building for those interested.

All are welcome, though of course only paid up members are eligible to vote on business matters. Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments thelockboss. We are located in the Bell Theatre, Department of Mathematics and Physics, QUB – details here……

 
With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.