IAA Zoom Lecture 29th September

IAA Public Lecture, Wed 29 September, 7. 30 p.m., by Zoom. “Astronomy, Ireland and UNESCO World Heritage” by Prof. Michael Burton, Director of Armagh Observatory & Planetarium.

Abstract: In 2019 UNESCO inscribed two astronomical sites for World Heritage based on their Outstanding Universal Values: Jodrell Bank & Risco Caido. Jodrell’s nomination centred on its pioneering role in the development of radio astronomy and extant examples of scientific infrastructure from the discipline’s origins to today.

  Ireland also has outstanding astronomical astronomical heritage through the pioneering role in development of the field of astronomy played by the observatories of Birr, Dunsink and Armagh. Birr with the Leviathan, the largest telescope in the world for 69 years, providing the seeds that led to the concept of other galaxies, as well as the birth of infrared astronomy. Dunsink and Armagh Observatories represent a key step in the development of the telescope itself, when the design of the building they are housed in became central to their function. Armagh has since continuously been occupied by astronomers, with three generations of telescopes from the 19th century within that illustrate the development of clock-driven equatorial telescope over that period.

The new inscriptions of Jodrell Bank and Risco Caido to the UNESCO World Heritage list raise the question of whether Ireland’s astronomical heritage may also be worthy of such recognition?
   This talk will overview the astronomical history of these Irish observatories and the possibility of seeking UNESCO World Heritage listing for them, as well as some of the issues that must be considered if doing so.

ZOOM, etc, Details.

Time: Sep 29, 2021 07:15 PM London
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Meeting ID: 883 4390 2455
Passcode: 536349

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 Season Opener – Zoom Lecture Weds 15th Sept 19:30

“The Gravitational-Wave Optical Transient Observer and Cataclysmic Variables“, by Christopher Duffy, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium


Following the observation of the first binary neutron star merger in 2017 a new frontier in multi-messenger astronomy has opened up, combining Gravitational Wave and optical astronomy. The Gravitational-Wave Optical Transient  Observatory (GOTO) is a robotic observatory designed with this kind of astronomy at its heart, designed to make use of large instantaneous sky coverage and an automatic scheduler to rapidly followup on detected Gravitational Waves events. This talk will outline the need for observatories such as GOTO, its design and operation and what can be achieved using GOTO. It will further go into detail on one of the leading secondary science goals of GOTO, Cataclysmic Variables, their often varied behaviour and why they are of great interest to us.”

 Speaker Biography:

Chris is a third year PhD student at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and Warwick University. Originally from Scotland Chris studied for his undergraduate and masters degrees at Glasgow University. His PhD is focused on studying transient objects in the night sky; mainly outbursts from Cataclysmic Variables, using wide field survey telescopes. As part of this work Chris is a member of both the GOTO and NGTS (Next Generation Transit Survey) consortia.”

Paul Evans is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: IAA Zoom Meeting
Time: Sep 15, 2021 07:15 PM London

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Meeting ID: 859 7958 2176
Passcode: 918551

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

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Meeting ID: 864 9200 1336
Passcode: 402441

Supporting Documents……






The annual Perseid Meteor shower is one of the two best each year, and this year conditions are favourable, with no bright moonlight to spoil the show.

Meteors, often called Shooting Stars or Falling Stars, are just tiny bits of debris in space which plough into our atmosphere at very high speed and ‘burn away’ in a streak of light lasting just a second or so.
Most of the annual meteor showers are caused by streams of tiny particles emitted from comets as they orbit around the Sun, and the Perseids originate from Comet Swift-Tuttle, named after the two astronomers who discovered it. The Earth passes through this shower of tiny particles each August, with the maximum occurring on the night of August 11-12th, and especially 12-13th, when up to 80 meteors per hour can be observed under ideal conditions in the early hours of the 13th. However, some Perseids can be seen from the beginning of the month up to about the 20th, although the rates are much lower the further away from the date of maximum.
They are called Perseids because they all seem to come from a point in the sky in the constellation of Perseus. They can appear anywhere in the sky, at random, but if you trace the direction of their tracks backwards, they will all appear to come from a small area in Perseus, which lies along the Milky Way. 

Perseus will be rising in the North East when the sky gets dark, and the number of meteors seen will increase from then as Perseus gets higher up in the East and then almost overhead, until dawn twilight gets too bright.
The young crescent Moon will set as twilight ends, so moonlight will not interfere this year.

You don’t need a telescope, or even binoculars, to see them, just your own eyes. But you must allow time for your eyes to adapt to the darkness before you’ll start to see any: if going out from a bright room, this takes 10 minutes for a reasonable view, but around 20 minutes to get the best view. For comfort, use a reclining chair or lounger, and wrap up well as it will get quite cool after a while.

And you should try to observe from the darkest location possible, away from light pollution, i.e. the effects of bright city lights, or even nearby street lights or security lights. If you can see the Milky Way, you’ve got a reasonably good location. The new OM/Davagh Dark Sky Park in the Sperrins is being developed for observing events such as this.
Although they appear to come from Perseus, they can appear anywhere in the sky, and the best place to look is about 50 degrees above the horizon (a bit more than halfway up to the overhead point, and about the same distance to left or right of the radiant, in whichever direction you can get the clearest and darkest view. Obviously if it’s cloudy, you won’t see any, but if you look on the few nights on either side of the 12th/13th, you should still see quite a good display if it’s clear then.
Perseid meteors are fast, as they collide with Earth at a speed of almost 60 km per second. There are a good proportion of bright ones, although as with all showers, there are many more faint ones than bright ones. That’s why you’ll see more from a very dark site, and when your eyes have fully dark-adapted.

METEOR PHOTOGRAPHY:   If you have a digital SLR which can give longish time exposures, and you can manually focus it on infinity, and adjust it to a high ISO (film speed equivalent), you can image the meteors with a bit of luck. Use the widest-angle lens you have. It will help to have a tripod.   Point the camera about 50° up in the sky, about 40° from the radiant, for best results. Consult your camera handbook, or experiment with exposures until the sky fogging becomes too severe. Start with exposures of about 10 minutes, and see if the background is still dark; if not, reduce the exposure times a bit. But usually the bright meteors pass just outside the field of view of the camera!

 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.  The meteors we see burn up at heights of about 100 km down to 80 km. We don’t see the actual meteor itself – just the streak of ionised light which is created as the particle burns away.
Terry Moseley

IAA Zoom Lecture – Weds 21st July 19:30

“A multi-wavelength view of galaxies”

by Dr Maritza Lara-Lopez of AOP.


The formation and evolution of galaxies is intimately dependent on the conversion of gas into stars, the production of heavy elements, recycling of this material into the interstellar medium, and repetitions of this cycle. A detailed understanding of the interplay between gas mass, star formation rate, and heavy elements is clearly important to understand the galaxy evolution process. In this talk I will provide a general overview of all the different telescopes, wavelengths, and the information they provide. From the hot gas, through to the cold gas, through to star formation and back again.


Maritza obtained her PhD in 2011 from the Astrophysical Institute of the Canary Islands (IAC)  in Tenerife, Spain. Later, she moved to a research fellowship at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) in Sydney, Australia, followed by a 3 year ARC Super Science Fellowship at AAO. She then moved for 2 years to Mexico for a research position at the Institute of Astronomy at UNAM.  From 2017- 2020 she was a DARK-Carlsberg foundation fellow at the DARK Cosmology Centre, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

From August 2020 she is a STFC postdoc at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, UK.

 Her PhD thesis won a national prize in Mexico and an institutional prize at IAC/ULL, Spain for the best thesis. In 2016 she won the L’Oreal-UNESCO prize for women in science of Mexico. She has 84 refereed publications in international journals (first author of 11), with more than 2900 citations.

Topic: IAA Meeting 21st July 2021
Time: Jul 21, 2021 07:15 PM London

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Meeting ID: 835 6770 1337
Passcode: 030251

The room will open around 19:15 to allow for a prompt start

This talk will also be Simulcast on our YouTube Channel


Astronomy in Northern Ireland