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Upcoming Events

19th May - Lecture - Prof. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell - see main article

15th Jun - Total Lunar Eclipse - Scrabo Tower, Co Down

18th Jun - Fun Day at Glenavy - Stardome and Solar Observing

25th Jun - IAA Summer Barbeque - Armagh Observatory

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The Irish Astronomical Association was formed in 1974 and draws its 200 members from both the UK and Ireland. The IAA membership ranges from complete beginners to accomplished observers and astrophotographers.

IAA Events in June

We have a packed programme of events coming up in June!

Weds 15th June - Total Lunar Eclipse

On 15th June the Moon will rise in the East already totally eclipsed. We will be observing this from Scrabo Tower. We will start with a Barbeque from 7:30pm onwards with the Moon rising at 9:55pm with totality ending at 10:02pm. Late stayers will be able to view the partial phases and Saturn which will be very close to the star Porrima

Note this is weather dependent event so please check the IAA Forum at 6pm on the evening for a go/no-go decision.

Sat 18th June - Stardome and Solar Observing at Glenavy Fun Day

As part of the Glenavy Festival Week we will be attending with the Stardome and, if the weather holds up, Solar telescopes.

Sat 25th June - Barbeque at Armagh Observatory

This is our Annual Summer barbeque....... details to follow


Lecture - Prof Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell

The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) is pleased to announce that Prof. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell will deliver its annual lecture on Thursday the 19 May in the Conor Lecture Theatre, University of Ulster, York Street, Belfast. The event will begin with a short reception at 6.30pm and the lecture will start at 7.oopm. The title of Prof Burnell's lecture is, 'The end of the world in 2012-science communication, science education and science scares'. The lecture will be of particular interest to members of the association who are teachers and others involved in education. However, all members are welcome to attend. In order to reserve a place please e mail lecture2011@gtcni.org.uk

Aidan P Fitzgerald Medal 2011 awarded

"The Aidan P. Fitzgerald Memorial Medal is the prestigious award of the Irish Astronomical Association, and is named in memory of one of its leading members back in the 40's and 50's. It is presented not more than once per year for "Outstanding Service to the Association" to someone usually, but not necessarily in a Council post.

Aidan Fitzgerald was born in Limerick, Ireland and had a keen interest in astronomy since childhood. Later he bought telescopes and other equipment and set them up in an observatory in his back garden. He became a leading light in the Belfast Centre of the old Irish Astronomical Society, and later became Chairman. He was also on the editorial board of the Irish Astronomical Journal. By profession, he was a principal officer in the Northern Ireland Ministry of Health and Local Government, and had been awarded the O.B.E. He never married, and died suddenly in the summer of 1964 from a heart attack, just short of his retirement.In June 1954, the planet Mars was closer to earth than it had been for several years, but the most ideal conditions for observation were from the southern hemisphere. Astronomers from all over the world co-operated to make observations of the planet and a committee was set up under the chairmanship of Professor Earl C. Slipher from the Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Slipher was probably the greatest authority on Mars and was to observe and photograph the red planet from the Lamont-Hussey Observatory at Bloemfontein, South Africa  using the great 27-inch refractor, (now dismantled)  Fitzgerald was invited to join him at the invitation of the National Geographic Society who sponsored the studies, which were to last some four months.

As to the medal itself, it is tastefully minted in bronze gilt, and on the obverse shows the profile of the famous "South Refractor" at Dunsink Observatory outside Dublin, while the reverse has the recipients name and date engraved inside a laurel wreath." (Many thanks to John C McConnell for the above words)

This year the Medal was awarded to David Stewart, the Association's Observing Co-Ordinator.

IAA President Philip Baxter, presenting the award, said, "In an unassuming way, David has given a great deal of support to the Association.

Always ready to help, by offering advice and encouragement, especially to those just starting out in astronomy, or those trying to polish up their skills, specifically in astrophotography.

I know that this has been a huge benefit to many people, especially those attending the Observing nights and has been very much appreciated ."

An excellent achivement, well deserved, Congratulations David!

Image: Paul Evans



Image: IAA









IAA Winter Events Gallery

We have held a number of events over the Winter season, all with great success. There's been a visit to Dalriada School in Ballymoney, a Stardome night at Castle Espie and of course the excellent Cosmic Cuilcagh event at the marble Arch Geopark in Fermanagh where we worked with the staff from Armagh Planetarium and Dr Mike Simms from the Ulster Museum to provide a weekend of education and entertainment for the general public.

Have a look at a collection of snaps taken by our members here...

Image: David Stewart

STS-134 - Endeavour's Last Flight - latest news

The STS-134 Endeavour mission is now scheduled for launch no earlier than 16th May due to technical problems which caused the 29th April launch to be scrubbed.

Additionally, the STS-135 Atlantis mission has been approved - this will carry a four man crew since there will be no backup shuttle available - in the event of Atlantis being unfit to return to Earth the crew will return from the ISS on a Soyuz capsule.

The remaining mission schedule is thus as follows:-

16th May

Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-134/ISS AMS

Launch Time: 8:56 am EDT (1:56pm BST)

early July 

Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-135

Launch Time: TBA

Image: NASA

Membership renewals and New Joiners

Members are reminded that subscriptions for the 2011/12 Year are due from September 1st.

New Joiners can download an application form here...

Anyone joining the Association from now onwards will get membership through 'til August 2012

Membership fees are as follows:-

Single membership: £20 or €25

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

The benefits of membership include an unmatched programme of lectures, observing nights, other events and a subscription to our highly regarded quarterly magazine, "Stardust", delivered to your door.

(C) IAA 2011 - All Rights Reserved