July 2012


Jupiter / Moon Close Encounter

On the night of 14th/15th July around 04:00 BST Jupiter will pass very close to the waning crescent Moon. In fact, viewed from more southerly locations there will be an occultation. The South of England is far enough South to see this, but from Northern Ireland we will get a very near miss. Note this is in the early hours of Sunday morning, and the weather prospects look reasonable!

Moon and Jupiter

Image: Paul Evans / Stellarium


Possible Aurora 14th/15th July

As well as the Jupiter / Moon encounter, the gigantic Sunspot AR1520 emitted an X-class flare on Thursday resulting in a Coronal mass Ejection (CME) that is arriving on 14th July. Therefore, keep an eye on the skies to the North after sunset for possible auroral activity!

The montage by Peter Paice below shows this sunspot at an earlier stage on 7th July..

Sun 7th July 2012Image: Peter Paice


Summer Programme

We have a solid programme of outreach events lined up for the Summer season with something for everyone and of course don't forget, the 2012-13 season of meetings will kick off on Wednesday 19th September at the Bell Lecture Theatre, Queens University Belfast, at 19:30hrs sharp.


Castle Espie 12th August

On Sunday 12th August we will return to WWF Castle Espie in County Down for another Solar Day – again from 2pm to 5pm. This venue has become a regular on the Summer calendar over the last few years and a s well as Solar Observing we will be offering displays of meteorites and other astronomical paraphenalia and of course Star Shows in the Mobile Planetarium. Also, if you are one of the many who has bought a telescope but found it a bit tricky to set up, bring it along and one of our experts will show you how to get it set up to give its best.

Castle EspieImage: Pat O'Neill 2010


Perseid Meteor Shower

This date also coincides with the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower – that actual peak is 10am on 12th this year, and the conditions are very good with The Moon in a waning crescent phase not visible until the early hours of the morning. Our intention is to hold the annual Perseid Barbeque at Delamont Country Park on the night of Saturday 11th August, however given that the peak straddles two nights we will hold the night of Sunday 12th in reserve in case we are rained off or clouded out on the Saturday night.

Image: Paul Evans 2004

IAA History

The eagle-eyed may have noticed a new tab on the drop-down menu – "IAA History". This is a work in progress – the Webmaster is pulling together, piece by piece, some items of history related to the past of the Association. Thus far we have records of Awards given by the Association together with past Presidents going back to the establishment of the Belfast centre of the Irish Astronomical Society in 1946.

In progress are the collection of all past officials and past speakers, as well as an improved archive of "Stardust", the quarterly magazine of the Association, so keep an eye on this new Tab – it will expand in months to come!

Astronomy in Northern Ireland and Beyond