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20th October - IAA Lecture at QUB - Dr Don Pollacco (QUB) - "The Next Generation Exoplanet surveys: Super-Earths in the habitable
zones of late type stars"

29th October - Portballintrae Halloween Festival- Evening Observing with Mobile Planetarium. Map

3rd November - IAA Lecture - Dr John Quinn (UCD) - "Gamma Ray Astronomy - A New Window on the Extreme Universe"

13th November - WWT Castle Espie – Evening Observing with Mobile Planetarium

16th November - Telescope evening at Armagh Planetarium with Evening Observing (TBC)

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First observing night of the season!

The IAA kicked off its first observing session of the 10/11 season at Delamont Country Park on the 1st October 2010. Around a dozen members took advantage of the relatively warm conditions (by NI standards anyway) of around 9 degrees.  

A low pressure front had passed through earlier in the day leaving super clear and dark skies for all to enjoy. The summer Milky Way was extremely bright and was easy to spot as it arced overhead. Comet Hartley was in a nice position below Cassiopeia at mag' +6 and great views of it were had with a selection of scopes, including 2 12" dobsonians.

A range of summer and autumn objects were observed including Stephans Quintet in Pegasus by our deep sky expert Ivan Mc Allister. Jupiter and the Great Red Spot were observed, along with Io very close by. A couple of sporadic meteors and several satellites were also seen. The wind picked up for a while, so the flasks came out, and tea /coffee and bicci's (thanks Jo!) kept us warm.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening under superb Co. Down skies.

Image: David Stewart  

More observing events will follow:  We are providing Star Shows on Friday 29th October as part of the Portballintrae Halloween Festival. We last visited Portballintrae when they opened their new Village Hall in July 2009 and we are very pleased to have been asked back. Being an evening event we are hoping to include some real sky observing as well as the planetarium.

On 13th November we will return to what has become a very regular venue for us - Castle Espie. Again, this will be an evening event so we will be providing telescopes for observing as well as Star Shows in the Mobile Planetarium.

Last but not least we have put together a programme of Observing Evenings. The vagaries of the Irish weather make these a little difficult to organise, so we have earmarked up to four days each month and ranked them in order of preference - first a Friday, then the following Saturday, and then a second weekend if both days are clouded out. The decision is made at 1800hrs on the day and is communicated via the IAA Forum

IAA ‘Snap the Logo’ Competition - Extended Deadline!

There is still time to enter this simple competition!

Simply download an image of the I.A.A. LOGO and take an unusual or quirky snap incorporating the logo. It could be with a personality, up in a hot air balloon, underwater - the choice is yours. The photograph that raises awareness of the Association and produces some publicity may get extra points! The winning entry will be chosen by the I.A.A. President and the prize will be a £25.00 book token. The winner will be announced at the October meeting.

How to enter.

Take your photograph and either ‘post’ it on the I.A.A. forum at www.irishastro.org, or e-mail it to iaaphil@googlemail.com


Entries to be received by 31/10/10.

No Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, etc. to be used.

Only one entry per person, so pick your best!

All entries, including the winning one, are free for use by the I.A.A. for display in our magazine ‘Stardust’, as well as on our web page or in any other I.A.A. publication.

Good Luck!

Comet 103P Hartley

We have a new comet in the sky - currently needing binoculars to see, but possibly becoming naked-eye visible later in the month!

Comet 103P Hartley is a short period comet with a period of 6.46 years and was discovered by Malcolm Hartley at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia in 1986. The comet is very fast moving so it is best to look at finder charts here...

Dr Andy McCrea has taken these excellent pictures of the Comet - the lower shot is a wider view including NGC 281 - The Pacman Nebula.

Comet Hartley's closest approach to Earth occurs on 22nd October - we will have to wait and see if it brightens further before then. As is always the way with comets, we have no way of knowing what will happen - we just have to wait and see!



Members are reminded that subscriptions for the 2010/11 Year are now due. Regrettably due to rising costs we have had to increase the subscriptions for IAA membership. For the 2010/2011 season these will be as follows:-

Single membership: £20 or €25

Family Membership (all members of a family at one address): £25 or €30

Note that this is the first rate increase in five years and still includes an unmatched programme of lectures, observing nights, other events and a subscription to our highly regarded quarterly magazine, "Stardust", delivered to your door.

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