Category Archives: IAA

IAA Subscriptions now due

As of 1st September membership falls due.

Membership of the IAA has been held at £20 (€25) per year for Individual Membership or £25 (€30) per year for Family Membership (all members of a family at one address) from September to August and entitles members to attend all IAA events including our regular speaker programme.

We are returning to Queen’s University, Belfast at the start of the Lecture Season on 23rd September – this will be in the larger Larmour Theatre – at least initially, to allow greater Social Distancing.

Where possible we will record these lectures and share them on our YouTube Channel for the benefit of those who may not feel comfortable venturing out just yet.

Also, there are four issues of the IAA magazine “Stardust” produced annually and these will be delivered to your home address.

The Return of Face-to-Face Lectures

Well after two and a half years of Covid and the associated lockdowns we are finally returning to in-person meetings at Queen’s University, Belfast

This time we will meet in the Larmour Theatre which is in the same building as before but accessed by turning right just after the Whitla Hall.

The Larmour is much larger than the Bell and if our previous audience levels continue then there will be much more space for Social Distancing.

For those who are not yet ready to join us in a live situation our intention is to provide a recording of the lectures within a day or two where we can. These will be on our YouTube Channel where you will find an archive of many past lectures including those we ran on Zoom during the Pandemic.

We are currently finalising the Programme but the first two lectures are as follows:_

21st Sep: Dr Steph Merritt, QUB: “Last Horizons – the Edge of the Solar System” (synopsis below)

5th Oct: Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, QUB: “Moving an Asteroid – Did we do it?” (the results of the DART impact on Didymos)

Synopsis of the first talk:

In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto seemed to mark the furthermost boundary of our solar system. Here, it was thought, was the mysterious Planet X, the ninth planet responsible for inexplicable irregularities in the orbit of Uranus.

The discovery of Pluto’s small mass briefly gave Planet X new life: but the discovery that Uranus’s orbit was not irregular after all seemed to kill it once more. There were nine planets in the solar system, with Pluto as the last: an idea that held for decades, an idea we were all taught in school.

But now, with Pluto demoted to a dwarf planet, and several other Pluto-like objects discovered in the distant frontiers of the system, the Planet X hypothesis has been unexpectedly resurrected. What lies beyond Pluto? Is there yet another planet out there in the coldest, darkest reaches of our solar system? What is the evidence for this new Planet Nine?  And if it truly exists, might the upcoming Legacy Space and Time Survey at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory discover it?

SuBscriptions now due

As of 1st September membership falls due and we are pleased to announce that our recent problems with PayPal have now been resolved.

Membership of the IAA has been held at £20 (€25) per year for Individual Membership or £25 (€30) per year for Family Membership (all members of a family at one address) from September to August and entitles members to attend all IAA events including our regular speaker programme currently running on the Zoom platform but hopefully returning to Queen’s University, Belfast as soon as circumstances allow.

Also, there are four issues of the IAA magazine “Stardust” produced annually and these will be delivered to your home address.

IAA AGM 18th August 1930

As previously advised this meeting will take place on Zoom. All are welcome but only paid-up members may take part in the formal business which will be conducted as swiftly as possible.

On completion of the formal business Paul Evans will deliver a live presentation on “The Sky in Autumn 2021”

Details as follows…….

Topic: IAA AGM
Time: Aug 18, 2021 07:15 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 864 9200 1336
Passcode: 402441

Supporting Documents……

IAA AGM HELD, New Council Elected

The postponed AGM was held on the evening of 26th August 2020 by Zoom. Thank you to all the members who took part, it worked very well and we now have a new Council elected – details here…..

This Council will meet early in September to evaluate the best way forwards given the continuing impact of Covid-19. We do not expect to be able to hold live lecture meetings for some time so we will endeavour to do the best possible for our members.

As always, the latest information will appear here.

IAA AGM 2020

Following the Covid-19 lockdown the Council cancelled the last two meetings of the season, including the Annual General Meeting scheduled for 15th April.

It now seems unlikely that we will be able to run a normal lecture programme for the rest of this calendar year, though we are working on alternative approaches to that.

As mentioned previously, it is our intention to hold the AGM online via Zoom Conferencing at 19:30 on Weds 26th August.

Paid-up members of the IAA can join the conference – details as follows……

Topic: IAA AGM
Time: Aug 26, 2020 07:30 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting here…….

This will open approx 5mins before the start time. Zoom gives us 40mins so please can we start promptly and get through the necessary business as quickly as possible. If there is any time left we’ll leave it open for chat If important business remains outstanding after 40mins we can all reconnect using the same link above!

Those who haven’t used Zoom before, it is very simple – click on the link and any necessary software will download and install.

Note, I (Paul) will be the gatekeeper and host of this meeting and will only be allowing paid-up members in.

Supporting documents are as follows……

David Beesley FRAS

I joined the Irish Astronomical Society when I was roughly nine or ten years old (c 1963-64) and one of my earliest recollections was of meeting David Beesley, who at the time was IAS Belfast Centre Honorary Secretary, and I remember well how keen he was to help and give advice to a budding young astronomer. 

David lived all his life in East Belfast and through the early sixties, seventies and eighties and even into the 1990s David was a leading light in IAS/IAA activity – organising, lecturing and observing. He was a principal driving force in the IAA after its formation in 1974 acting as Honorary Secretary and President for many years. His forte was double stars and he enjoyed nothing better than to explain the intricate details of how to use an eyepiece micrometer to measure the position angle and separation of these stars. He was a regular contributor to the prestigious Irish Astronomical Journal (IAJ), edited by Ernst Öpik from Armagh Observatory, and he submitted accurate double star observations to the BAA for many years. Here you can find help when you need payroll service provider. David was also Editor of Stardust for several decades and it was through his hand-delivery of the magazine that I grew to know him well. I lived close to David in East Belfast and he would frequently pick me up and take me with him to various observing events and trips – such as the visit to Patrick Moore’s house in the Mall in Armagh, or the observing sessions at the Giant’s ring etc. We travelled together to Birr on many occasions to attend the Star Parties there.  David also worked for a spell at the Planetarium as a lecturer although eventually he found the travelling too much and joined heating and plumbing suppliers, Beggs and Partners in Belfast where he worked until retirement. In 1989 David was the first person to be awarded the IAA’s Fitzgerald Medal for ‘outstanding service to the Association’, and in 2000 David was the first person to be awarded the IAA’s most prestigious award for ‘exceptional service to astronomy’ – the Öpik medal. 

David suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the last few years and it eventually forced him to drop out of Association life, but he passed away on 18th April 2020 as a result of contracting Covid-19. Although he spent his last year or so in a nursing home in Belfast, David did not lose his interest in things astronomical nor his sharpness of mind. We spoke just a few weeks before his death when he discussed measuring sunspot diameters using his trusty micometer and telescope from his nursing home room. 

David was a quiet and respectful person, a true gentleman who commanded significant respect through his knowledge, unassuming manner and dedication to his lifelong hobby. David is survived by his wife Hazel, who was also a member of the Association and they were both deeply committed Christians. David has a son Mark and daughter Fiona. He was a ‘giant’ of the Irish amateur astronomy community and will be sadly missed by all.

Andy McCrea, 19th April 2020.

Covid-19 Virus

The IAA Council has met to consider the situation regarding the Covid-19 Pandemic and has reluctantly come to the conclusion that we must cancel the events planned for the remainder of the season. Therefore, the lectures on 18th March and 1st April are CANCELLED and the Annual General Meeting planned for 15th April is postponed until September.

There will be no Observing sessions organised for the remainder of the season (20th/21st, 27th/28th March, 17th/18th and 24th/25th April)

Further information will appear here as this situation develops

IAA Lecture Programme 2018-19

Subscriptions are now open and renewals due for the New Lecture Season which is almost complete – see below…….

You can join us here……… Membership has been held at £20 individual and £25 family – this has been the case for several years now and represents fantastic value!

Meetings are held at the Bell Theatre in Queen's University Belfast – see here for directions……. The proceedngs begin at 19:30 sharp and begin with the President's Welcome and a warm-up talk by one of our experienced astronomers, followed by the main talk, usually given by a Professional Astronomer. Tea, coffee, biscuits and chat is available after the meeting with proceedings usuall closing around 21:30.

We also run Observing evenings, usually at Delamont Country Park in County Down – details here……….

During the course of the year we run a number of outreach sessions at various venues some of which will include the IAA's very popular Stardome Planetarium. Details will appear on this website.


Sep 19th – Dr Frank Prendergast, DIT: "From Neolithic to Iron Age – Case Studies in Irish Archaeoastronomy"
Oct 3rd –  Prof Luke Drury: Prof Emeritus, DIAS: "The Dawn of Multi-Messenger Astronomy".
Oct 17th –  Prof Gerry Doyle, AOP: "The Probability of a Doomsday Solar Superflare: Fact or Fiction?"
Oct 31st –  Dr Wes Fraser, QUB:  tbc
Nov 14th –  Michael O'Connell. "Amateur Observations of Meteors"
Nov 28th –  Prof Stephen Smartt, ARC, QUB, "Kilonovae"
Dec 12th –  Paul Evans "Apollo 8 – Christmas Around the Moon"
Jan 5th 2019 – New Year Party
Jan 9th – tbc
Jan 23rd –  Dr Neale Gibson, ARC, QUB – “Exploring Alien Worlds: How to find life in the Universe”
Feb 6th –  Dr Kate Maguire, ARC, QUB, "Gravitational Waves – Ripples in Spcetime"
Feb 20th –  Dr Norah Patten Inspire Space, Scientist-Astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM. "From Mayo to Space"
Mar 6th –  Prof Peter Gallagher, (ex TCD, new head of DIAS) tbc, prob on Parker solar Probe and I-Lofar
Mar 20th –  tbc
Apr 3rd –  Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, tbc
Apr 17th –  AGM

New IAA Council elected

We had an excellent AGM+ night at the IAA with a brilliant talk on The European Solar Telescope Project by Dr Ada Ortiz followed by the AGM.

The new Council was elected with Brian Beesley taking over from Paul Evans as President. Paul had served as President for 5 of the previous 6 years during a period of continued growth for the Association.

The Aidan Fitzgerald Award was presented to IAAmember and Professional Photographer Bernie Brown for her fantastic work on the Images of Starlight and Heavens Above Astrophotography exhibitions. 

From the left, Pat O'Neill, Tony Kempston, Adam Jeffers, Danny Collins, Fitzgerald Medal Winner Bernie Brown, outgoing President Paul Evans, Terry Moseley and incoming President Brian Beesley

The full Council is as shown here….