September 2012

Jupiter hit!

Jupiter has been hit by an unknown object, either a Comet or a small Asteroid -full story here…. Despite many amateur astronomers having taken images of the impact site on subsequent Jovian rotations, it appears that as yet no impact scar has appeared in the atmosphere. More on Spaceweather and here…



2012-13 Lecture Programme

We have an excellent programme of lectures lined up for the 2012-13 season with something for everyone – the programme can be seen in full here…. This will kick off on Wednesday 19th September at the Bell Lecture Theatre, Queens University Belfast, at 19:30hrs sharp.

The season opener features well known broadcaster and journalist Leo Enright. The subject will be what is currently the hottest topic in astronomy and space exploration: the amazing Curiosity Rover on Mars

Leo is not only a renowned expert on anything to do with space science, but an excellent and very entertaining speaker: I'm sure that everyone has heard him on radio or TV so you know what to expect.

Doors open about 7.15pm. There is free parking available on the campus in the evenings. Admission Free, including light refreshments.

With thanks to the Astrophysics Research Centre, QUB, for assistance with this event.

Leo Enright

Dr Kate Russo book launch 15th September

IAA member Dr Kate Russo has written a book entitled "Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser". 

Kate is both a clinical psychologist and a highly enthusiastic eclipse chaser, and she has combined the two in this fascinating book about what drives people to travel halfway round the world to see a Total Eclipse of the Sun. The simple answer is of course that it's probably the most amazing, incredible, mind-blowing, emotional spectacle that anyone will ever see. But there's much more to it than that, with lots of different motivations for seeing one, and an even greater range of reactions to the event.

The event is free, with a documentary being shown in the film theatre, followed by some presentations by Kate and others – including IAA Past President and PR Officer Terry Moseley – followed by refreshments and a chance to get a signed copy, chat to Kate, and mingle with other astronomers, psychologists and eclipse chasers.

Everyone is welcome to attend. Details at  – and look under events.

Dr Kate Russo


Dr Peter Gallagher Lecture 3rd October

Our guest on 3rd October will be Solar expert Dr Peter Gallagher from Trinity College, Dublin.

Dr Gallagher is Head of the Solar Physics Group at Trinity and his research is primarily concerned with the understanding of Solar Storms and their impact on Earth – of great interest to us as Solar Cycle 24 gathers pace!

Dr Gallagher obtained a first degree in Physics and Mathematics from University College Dublin, a PhD in Solar Physics from QUB and has since worked on Solar research including a six year stint in the US working firstly at Big Bear Solar Observatory in California and at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

His talk, entitled "LOFAR and The Rosse Observatory" will give us an insight into the latest Solar Reserch being conducted from Ireland.

Dr Peter Gallagher


Dr Lucie Green Lecture 17th October

Our lecture on 17th October will be something a bit special! We are teaming up with the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB to bring Science Communicator, TV and Radio personality and Solar Expert Dr Lucie Green to Belfast to talk to us on the subject of "The Sun".

This lecture will be held in the Larmour Lecture Theatre at QUB and though admission is free, seats will need to be booked due the expected demand. Further details regarding the lecture can be found here….

Details of Dr Green's work can be found on her website here….

Dr Lucie Green


Dave Grennan – 2nd Supernova Discovery

Many congratulations to Dave Grennan for discovering his second supernova – and not from some dark sky site with an ideal climate, but from his own observatory in Raheny, Dublin! Dave used his 36cm Schmidt Cassegrain telescope for the discovery images. 

Discovered on August 22nd, it has just been confirmed. Dave was the first person in the world to spot the light from the gigantic explosion of the dying star. It has been designated 2012ej and is his second supernova discovery in two years!

The exploding star was in 13th magnitude galaxy IC2166 (PGC 19064) in Lynx, and was magnitude 16.2 at discovery. It lies at a distance of about 123 million Light Years, and is a classic Type 1C supernova. The discovery was confirmed by Tom Boles (the world's leading discoverer of supernovae), who recently gave a fascinating lecture on the subject to the IAA in Belfast.

Dave Grennan


Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

The world is currently mourning the death on August 25 of Neil Armstrong, aged 82, the first human being on the Moon. 

As Commander of Apollo 11 his cool nerve and skill in manually piloting the Lunar Module onto the surface when the computer was going to land them in a boulder field, and when they were almost out of fuel was amazing. 

Paul Evans, IAA President said "I watched the moon landing live on TV when I was 7 years old, and was then woken for the moonwalk – about 3am I think! It was the Apollo missions, starting with Apollo 8 that first got me interested in Astronomy and Space Exploration. I'm sure that all in the IAA and others will join me in expressing condolences to Neil's family and friends at this time."


Astronomy in Northern Ireland and Beyond