20th February – Dr Chris Watson – “Mapping the surfaces of stars – giant spots and shadows”

The next Irish Astronomical Association public lecture will be given by Dr Chris Watson of Queens University, Belfast. 

His talk is entitled "Mapping the surfaces of stars – giant spots and shadows". 
Chris is well-known amongst our members through his involvement in the Jupiter Watches and Stargazing Live events of the last two years as well as his talk to us in April 2010.
This is certain to be a fascinating talk, on a fascinating subject! It's on WEDNESDAY 20th February, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome!

Sat 16th February – Stargazing and Stardome at North Down Museum

The Irish Astronomical Association will be holding another of their very popular astronomy evenings at the Museum beside Bangor Castle, on Saturday evening, 16 February, at 6.30 p.m. Once again we'll have a selection of powerful telescopes and binoculars for viewing the night sky, an exhibition, short astronomy and space films, a selection of meteorites (rocks from space) which you can actually hold, and of course the Stardome mobile planetarium just in case of bad weather. And you'll have a chance to meet our own 'Ulsternaut', Derek Heatly from Groomsport, who is booked to fly into space with Virgin Galactic.

There will be free shows in the Stardome at 6.30, 7.15, 8.00 and 8.45, and these MUST be booked in advance by ringing the Museum at 028 9127 1200.
The highlight will be a spectacular Moon high in the sky, providing jaw-dropping views in the telescopes. In addition we will get a great view of giant Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, with its four large Moons. And as a special treat we can watch the International Space Station, the largest, brightest and heaviest object ever put into space, blazing across the sky. All those of course are weather dependant.

6th February – Prof Lorraine Hanlon – “The Gloria Project”

GLORIA stands for "GLObal Robotic-telescopes Intelligent Array" and will be the first free and open access network of robotic telescopes in the world. It will be a Web 2.0 environment where users can do research in astronomy by observing with robotic telescopes, and/or by analysing data that other users have acquired with GLORIA.

The user community (consisting of amateurs, citizen scientists, school children, students and professionals) will not only generate content, but will also be able to control telescopes around the world, either directly, in ‘teleoperation’ mode, or via scheduled observations. The community will also make decisions about the network behaviour and priorities,  that will give "intelligence" to GLORIA, while the drudge work (such as creating telescope schedules to satisfy various constraints) will be done by algorithms developed for the purpose.
The project is being funded by the EU-FP7 and I will present an overview of our progress to date in bringing the network into operation.
The Lecture will be held in the Bell Theatre, Queens University Belfast at 7:30pm on Wednesday 6th February. All are welcome.

23rd January – Lecture – Dr Tolis Christou, Armagh Observatory

The next IAA public lecture will be on Wednesday 23 January, at 7.30 p.m.

It will be given by Dr Tolis Christou, of Armagh Observatory. It has the intriguing title "Horseshoes, Tadpoles, and other weirdnesses: Asteroids and Planets Learning to Live Together". That should pique your curiosity! The only clue I'll give is that Tolis is an expert on the orbits and interactions of all the objects in the Solar System.
Admission is free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome.
This lecture will as usual be in the Bell Lecture theatre, Physics building, main QUB Campus.

10th January – BBC Stargazing Live at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre

As in years past, the IAA will be the BBC's main partner in Northern Ireland delivering events over the three days of Stargazing Live from Tues 8th to Thurs 10th January. The main event this year will again be held at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre on Oxford Island near Craigavon just off the Lurgan junction on the M1.

This will be a major event, with schools activities in the afternoon, and the programme for the general public starting at about 6 p.m. There will be a much bigger and more varied programme even than last year, so this is something not to be missed.  Attractions on offer will include Star Shows in the Mobile Planetarium, Boat trips with Star Guides on the Lough, telescopic observing of Jupiter and its moons, and the Deep Sky, Comet making, and many, many more! Even if it's cloudy, we will have the telescopes set up inside on display and of course the indoor activities won't be weather dependent!

There will also be a two hour live radio programme on BBC Radio Ulster coming from the event from 7pm until 9pm.

9th January – Lecture – Prof Phil Dufton “45 years in Astronomy”

Our meeting on 9th January will feature  a lecture by by Prof Phil Dufton of QUB: "Forty-five Years in Astronomy".

Prof Dufton, who has given us several fascinating lectures before, has had a long and varied career in astronomy, and has seen some amazing changes in what we know, or think we know, about the universe. That promises to be a very interesting and informative talk.

It will be at 7.30 p.m. in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, QUB.

8th January 2013 – Jupiter Watch at QUB


On Tuesday 8 January, the IAA will be working with the astronomers at QUB to deliver another public 'Jupiter Watch', in the grounds just in front of the main Lanyon building of Queen's, starting at 6 p.m.
We will be bringing along as many telescopes as we can muster, as last year we had a lovely clear night, and some 600 members of the public got to see Jupiter and its moons through about 10 telescopes. This year there is merit in getting there early – for the first 30mins or so of the session the Great Red Spot will be visible near the edge of the Jovian disc!
If it's cloudy there will instead be a public lecture by Dr Chris Watson of QUB, in the nearby physics building.

IAA New Year Party – 5th January

This year's New Year Party will be held on Saturday 5th January. We start with a buffet meal at McBrides restaurant in The Square, Comber, followed by a special private screening of a film in the local Tudor private cinema. Meet at McBrides at about 5.30 p.m. for 6.0. p.m. The film will be "Men in Black 3". This film has a rating of PG-13, so parental discretion is advised regarding any children.

We will also have free refreshments at the Tudor Cinema, including Terry's notorious seasonal punch (notorious because no-one else can make one like it!), tea & coffee, and soft drinks. We will also have George's entertaining and challenging quiz. You MUST book in advance, by 28th December: £15 per adult. Download the flyer and form here…

12th December – Members Night – Triple Bill!

On Wednesday 12th of December we have a very special topical night with three of our Council members taking the stage.

First up, Terry Moseley will give his account of the recent Total Solar Eclipse in Australia. Terry will be followed by Andy McCrea who saw the eclipse from a different vantage point and managed to take some excellent photographs of the event.

After this, David Collins will give us a short introduction to his new book, "The Star of Bethlehem". This is a preview of his main talk which will be delivered at Stormont on Friday 14th December.

This promises to be a power packed evening with plenty of fun to bring 2012 to an end with a bang!

Astronomy in Northern Ireland