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!

In Memoriam – Sir Patrick Moore 1923-2012

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing away of Sir Patrick Moore who died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Selsey today, 9th December 2012 aged 89.  Here is a personal tribute by IAA Past President Terry Moseley….


A PERSONAL TRIBUTE to Sir Patrick Moore, FRS, honorary life member of the IAA,
by Terry Moseley

I was lucky enough to be living in Armagh when Patrick, as he then was, arrived to be Director of the newly announced Planetarium. Having just bought his Observers Book of Astronomy and made a simple 2″ (50mm) refractor, I had then bought 2 kits to grind 8.5″ (21.6cm) mirrors, so I wrote to him for advice. He invited me to call and see him at his house on the Mall, and thus began a lifelong friendship.

He took me under his wing, let me use his telescopes, and soon we were both using the 10″ (25cm) Grubb refractor at Armagh Observatory. Very many nights we spent there, observing Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon, Mars, variable stars, novae, comets and so on.
On cloudy nights, and there were a few, we wrote up our observations, worked on articles for magazines, played chess, and listened to his extensive collection of moneta classical music, all supplemented by endless supplies of coffee and Marie biscuits, supplied by his mother, or his housekeeper ‘Woodie”.
He persuaded me to give my first astronomy lecture, (to an audience including 3 professional astronomers!) and even invited me as the guest expert on observing Jupiter on the Sky at Night, which in those days was live! Well, in at the deep end is the best way.
When he left Armagh for Selsey, he gave me as a parting gift, the optics for my 14.6″ (37cm) reflector, saying ‘you can make the rest’, and I did. As well as that he has given me copies of almost all the books he has written, but what I valued far more was his advice and friendship, his crazy sense of humour, and his unique perspective on life.
I stayed with him many times in Selsey, and as he didn’t like driving I often drove him up to the BBC in London to record the Sky At Night, meeting many famous astronomers in the process.
I was also invited to all the major Sky at Night anniversary parties: 25th, 40th, 50th etc, and the attendance by many top professional astronomers at those events is an indication of the esteem in which he was held.
He was not without his faults, but overall I can say that he is one of the most intelligent, kindest and most generous people I have ever known. And he is of course totally irreplaceable. I will miss him greatly at this is how to get free robux with no verification .
The picture above shows Patrick (as he then was) on board the MV Monte Umbe off the Coast of Africa in 1973 with IAA member John C McConnell during a trip to observe the longest Total Solar Eclipse of the 20th Century. Thanks to John for the use of his photo.

4th December, Armagh Planetarium – Awesome Universe


Launch of new photograph exhibit, free Christmas show and stargazing

The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of when European astronomers headed south, to Chile, determined to build the most powerful ground-based telescopes in the world and founded ESO (European Southern Observatory).

Armagh Planetarium is celebrating this anniversary by launching a new gallery exhibition. Around 40 visually stunning images have been erected with captions, showcasing celestial objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters as seen by ESO’s observatories, as well as beautiful images of the observatories themselves, which are located in some of the most unusual places on Earth.

Join us for our launch night on Tuesday 4th December 2012 where we will unveil our gallery. You will also have the opportunity to see our Christmas theatre show “Mystery of the Christmas Star” FREE and if the skies are clear we will be observing the wonders of the December night sky.

Please note that spaces for the FREE theatre show are limited so pre-booking is essential. Call us on 028 3752 3689.

6pm – Doors open

7pm – Gallery Launch

7:30pm – Mystery of the Christmas Star Theatre show

8pm – Night sky observing

9pm – Doors close

Lecture 28th November – Dr Chiaki Kobayashi

Our lecture on 28th November will be brought to us by Chiaki Kobayashi. The lecture, entitled "The origin of elements and evolution of galaxies" is described here by Dr Kobayashi in her own words…..

From the observed initial conditions, a snapshot of the Universe at about 300, 000 years after the Big Bang, I am simulating the formation and evolution of galaxies over 13 billion years using a super computer. In the galaxies, stars are born and die, explode as supernovae, and eject heavy elements such as carbon and oxygen, from which human beings are born. Comparing with observations of nearby and distant galaxies, I will summarize what we know about the origin of elements.

Dr Kobayashi was born in Tokyo, Japan, and studied for her undergraduate and PhD at the University of Tokyo. She also worked in Munich, Germany; Canberra, Australia, and is now a Senior Lecturer at University of Hertfordshire. 

All are welcome to this lecture – starting 7:30pm sharp in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Queens University, Belfast


Astronomy in Northern Ireland and Beyond