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Free Astro Calendar from IFAS!

Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control it was not possible to get the IFAS Astronomy Calendar printed in time for distribution this year, so rather than waste the effort already put in, the IFAS Committee have decided to distribute the calendar for download free of charge.

This is an excellent piece of work with time-critical astronomical information written from an Irish perspective and many thanks are due to John Flannery for the many hours he has spent pulling this together.

Note that for copyright and size reasons this free edition does not include the images that were to be part of the printed version.

The Calendar can be downloaded from this link….

Lecture Weds 6th January, 7.30 p.m. “When Earth encounters interplanetary matter: Bananas, Wings and Totoro”, by Dr David Asher, Armagh Observatory

Dr David Asher is an expert on the dynamics and orbits of objects in the Solar System, and how they interact with each other and the Earth.
 
He recently appeared on BBC TV (above) highlighting the potential danger posed to Earth by "Centaur" objects – giant comets in the outer solar system of which hundreds have been discovered in recent years.
 
We are delighted to welcome David back as a speaker; he has given us some fascinating lectures over the years, with intriguing titles, and this one is no exception! To find out what it's all about come along on Weds 6th Jan 2016.
 
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.

IAA NEW YEAR PARTY, SATURDAY 2nd JANUARY 2016

The Irish Astronomical Association’s New Year Party will be held as usual in the Tudor Cinema, Drumhirk, Comber on Saturday 2nd January 2016. A buffet meal will be available in McBrides the Square, Comber. Food will be served at 6.00pm, but it is advisable to be there at 5.30pm.

After the meal, members and guests will then make their way to the nearby Tudor Cinema for the feature film `STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS’ starting at 7.30pm and followed by a prize quiz.

Free refreshments will be available at the cinema, including Terry Moseley’s hot punch!

N.B. Due to seating capacity restrictions at the Tudor Cinema, numbers will be limited to 60, so early booking is advisable.

Download the application form here…..

ISS Passes with Tim Peake on Board!

Following on from the successful Soyuz mission delivering Tim Peake to the Interbational Space Station, you'll be able to see Tim passing over Northern Ireland once or twice an evening until Christmas Eve.

The station appears as a bright object, almost as bright as Venus rising in the South-West and moving slowly across the sky – at 17,500mph! It takes about five minutes to cross the sky completely. The graphic above shows the times for Belfast – for those in the West of the province it will be just a few seconds earlier – at 5 miles per second it doesn't make much difference!

Photographers may want to put a camera on a tripod with a wide angle lens and time exposure of 15-30 seconds where the path of the station will show up as a line on the frame.

See the latest updates on the link below.

http://heavens-above.com/PassSummary.aspx?satid=25544&lat=54.583&lng=-5.933&loc=Belfast&alt=5&tz=GMT

Lecture Weds 16th Dec 7:30pm – Tony Drennan – “Sherlock Holmes, Pocahontas, and the Star Atlas with no stars”

Tony is a Past President of the Association from the 1977/78 season and we believe he is the youngest person ever to hold the post being in his early 20s at the time, though his successor, Brian Beesley runs him close on that record!

We are delighted to welcome back Tony as a speaker; he has given us some fascinating lectures over the years, with intriguing titles, and this one is no exception. To find out what it's all about you'll have to come along!

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.
 

Lecture Weds 2nd Dec, 7:30pm – Prof Susan McKenna-Lawlor, NUIM, STIL: “Rosetta Mission, its Philae Lander, and the First Irish Satellite”

Susan McKenna-Lawlor is is an Emeritus Professor at the Maynooth University Department of Experimental Physics. She was a Member of the Senate of The National University of Ireland and a member of the Governing Authority of Maynooth University. She is also Managing Director of  Space Technology Ireland, Ltd (STIL) which builds instrumentation for space missions.
 
She has been involved with various experiments flown on ESA, NASA and Russian Space Agency missions. She developed a set of instruments to monitor the Martian solar wind on the Mars Express mission launched by the European Space Agency. The instruments were designed to collect clues to the mystery of water on Mars – where it is or was, where it came from and what happened to it.
 
Her work earned her one of the most prestigious honours available to space scientists – election to the International Academy of Astronautics.
 
Professor Susan McKenna-Lawlor received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science (DSc) in  2005 for her contribution to astrophysics from the University of Ulster.
 
The title of her talk is "The Rosetta Mission and its Lander Philae"  The topics covered will include: an account of the ten year Cruise Phase of the Rosetta Mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and what was learned along the way,  the rendezvous of Rosetta with Comet 67P/C-G; the deployment of Philae and its landing on the cometary surface; first results obtained during the surface campaign  and what is happening now.
 
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.
 

Lecture Weds 18th November, 7.30 p.m. “On the Shoulders of Giants; The Story of (part of) Our Quest to Understand the Cosmos”, by Brian MacGabhann

Brian MacGabhann is Chairman of Galway Astronomy Club and we are very pleased to have him as our guest this week.
 
Recently the news was announced that the Voyager space probe has finally left the solar system and entered deep space, becoming the most distant manmade object ever. But barely 5,000 years ago our ancestors stared with fear and incomprehension at the bewildering display of lights that appeared nightly over their heads. Armed with nothing more than their wits our species has slowly and haltingly groped towards an understanding of the universe around us and our place in it, and it is amazing to think that by the time we finally did manage to leave this rock in 1961 we had already arrived at a broad understanding of how the universe operated.



This is the story of that quest, from the ancient Egyptians, who saw in the skies the workings of their gods, to the Greeks who sought for a naturalistic explanation of what was happening, through the middle ages when brilliant thinkers fought against the restrictions of their culture and of their own beliefs and assumptions to struggle towards and ever more accurate understanding. It is a story of heroes and cowards, KazinoEkstra.com humility and arrogance, imagination and tunnel vision. Along the way we will encounter a host of fascinating characters, some larger than life, some odd and reclusive, some downright potty, including such famous names as Copernicus, Newton, Galileo and Aristotle.

 
This is a superb lecture, with lots of interesting insights into the background of the development of astronomical thought: You may think you know the history of astronomy fairly well, but I’ll bet you’ll learn something new!. Visit lendbubble com au.
 
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.

Lecture – 7:30pm Weds 4th November – Dr Maria Cullen – “Anazoeing Mars”

Anazoeing Mars – the revitalisation, or re-lifeing, of a planet. Ana- = re- and zoe = all life; Anazoeing – a Greek-based term to describe the act of bringing Mars back to life, based on its own biota, through tending it to ameliorate the potential for human occupation of Mars into the future. Mars today presents a very hostile suite of environments for humans. As we grow in our understanding of Earth we realise that certain forms of life can exist in challenging places and can adapt to these settings in diverse ways. As our knowledge of Mars improves, we begin to identify potential niches for life there. We are posing fresh questions about life itself and potential ecophysiological windows of opportunity.
 
With the initiation of human exploration of Mars, the building of biomes and the anazoeing of a "dead", or "mostly dead" planet, we will learn more about the fragility of life and the resilience of life, in a wider planetary setting. Technological developments, new insights and organizational advances will help us to address threats of our own making to life on our home planet.
 
This lecture will take stock of what we know so far about the Martian environment. It will review the proposals suggested to anazoe or re-initiate life on Mars so that humans can live and work there in increasing comfort and safety. There will be some discussion of the technological and ethical challenges involved when attempting to work with Mars-life if it currently exists or to kick-start life and to tend it in a direction that would suit us on another planet!
 
Maria Cullen is an Irish geomicrobiologist with a long-term interest in the requirements and potential for life in our Solar System. Her company, AlphaTaxa, is based at Dublin City University Innovation Campus. 
 
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.

Lecture – 7:30pm Weds 21st October – David Shayler FBIS – “The Astronomer Astronauts”

Spaceflight historian David J. Shayler, FBIS (Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society – or as Dave likes to call it – Future Briton In Space!) was born in England in 1955.  His lifelong interest in space exploration began by drawing rockets aged 5 but it was not until the launch of Apollo 8 to the moon in December 1968 that the interest for human space exploration became a passion. His first articles were published by the British Interplanetary Society in the late 1970’s and in 1982 he created Astro Info Service (www.astroinfoservice.co.uk) to focus his research efforts. His first book was published in 1987 and now has over 20 titles to his name including works on the American and Russian space programmes, the topics of space walking, women in space, and the human exploration of Mars.
 
In 1989 he applied as a cosmonaut candidate for the UK Project Juno programme with the Soviet Union (now Russia). The mission was to spend seven days in space aboard the space station Mir. Dave did not reach the final selection but progressed further than he expected. The mission was flown by Helen Sharman in May 1991. In support of his research Dave has visited NASA in the United States and the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia, where visits to space training facilities and handling real space hardware has provided a valuable insight into the activities of a space explorer and the realities of flying and living in space.
 
He is a friend of many former and current astronauts and cosmonauts, some of whom have accompanied Dave of visits to schools across the country.  For over 20 years Dave has delivered space presentations and workshops to children and social groups across the UK. This programme has developed into a three tier project of presentations, mini and full day workshops to help the younger generation develop an interest in science and technology and the world around them.
 
Dave lives in the West Midlands and enjoys spending time with his wife Bel, Jenna a rather large white German shepherd (who is also our company mascot) and indulging in his love of cooking.
 
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.

Lecture – 7:30pm Weds 7th October – Terry Moseley – “Our Sun: Friend or Foe?”

In a a change to the programme, the lecture will be given by Terry Moseley BEM, current PR Officer and Meetings Organiser of the IAA, not to mention Past President for a total of 10 years in four stints over a period of 35 years! 

Terry's Lecture, entitled "Our Sun: Friend or Foe?" will tell us plenty about our nearest star……

"We take the Sun, our own star, for granted. Without it, life as we know it would be impossible on Earth. And of course it has lots of other benefits, ranging from Solar Energy to lovely sights such as the aurorae, rainbows and magnificent sunsets.
 
But it's actually a huge seething cauldron of superhot plasma, powered by incomprehensibly powerful nuclear reactions in its core. And it's not entirely static or stable, and when things happen on the Sun, they can have very serious consequences for us on Earth.
 
This talk will look at all the benefits we get from the Sun, and contrast them with the known and possible dangers, answering some common questions such as How long will it shine? What happens if it gets hotter? Will it expand and engulf the Earth? Will it explode like a nova or supernova?"
 
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.