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Upcoming Events

  • 2nd Nov - Lecture - Dr Phil Marshall (Univ of Oxford) - "Cosmic Telescopes: Focussing and Observing with Gravitational Lenses
  • 16th Nov - Lecture - Brian Harvey - "Future Missions to the Moon and Mars"
  • 18th/19th Nov (or 25th/26th) - Observing at Delamont
  • 30th Nov - Tom Boles "Discovering Supernovae: Motivation and Rewards"
  • 2nd December - Evening Observing / Stardome at Castle Espie
  • 3rd December - Evening Observing / Stardome at Dungannon - details TBC
  • 16th December - Dr Ryan Milligan (QUB) - "Exploring the current rise in Solar Activity"

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IAA Lecture 16th November

The second lecture of the month was given by Irish Space Historian and Author, Brian Harvey. Brian last talked to us in 2009 on "The Chinese Space Programme". This time around he talked about "Future Missions to the Moon and Mars" After outlining the many missions run by the USA and USSR from the early 1960s until 1976, then from the early '90s onwards, Brian moved on to outline the missions now being run and future missions planned by China, Russia, India and Japan, raising the prospect of another Space Race, this time dominated by the Asian countries. It is still open to speculation as to whether the US will regroup and re-enter the race, but for now it seems that China is the one to watch!

This was an excellent talk and we are very grateful to Brian for coming up from Dublin to visit us.

Brian HarveyImage: Paul Evans

The Warm-up talk was a 15 minute tour of the November sky covering Solar Cycle 24, the Planets, some winter constellations and prospects for the Leonid Meteor Shower. It can be seen on the IAA YouTube Channel in 720p HD below.

IAA Lecture 2nd November

November's first lecture was given by Dr Phil Marshall from The University of Oxford and was entitled  "Cosmic Telescopes: Focussing and Observing with Gravitational Lenses"

Gravitational Lenses are a very powerful tool for studying the most distant objects in the universe, and best of all, they are provided by Mother Nature, free of charge! But first you have to find them, and know how to interpret the images. This was a fascinating lecture, revealing the latest findings on the early and most distant parts of our universe, and the implications the evidence gathered has for the existence of Dark Matter.

Phil Marshall at IAA

Jupiter at opposition

The King of the Planets is now directly opposite The Sun in the sky which means it will be at its greatest elevation due South at local midnight (about 00:24 GMT in Belfast) at its maximum magnitude of -2.9. From now on it will be higher up in the evening sky which will suit observers better. Both equatorial bands are now present - last year one went missing for a while, however the Great Red Spot seems very pale as can be seen in this photo by Andy McCrea....


Image:Andy McCrea

Aurora over Ireland

On the morning of 25th October, Solar Cycle 24 delivered a CME to  Earths' atmosphere resulting in a KP7 auroral storm. Nearly all of Ireland and the UK was clouded out, but Ronan Newman of Galway Astronomy Club was very lucky to have clear skies in Co Mayo. Here's the view...

Also, there is a slideshow of all of Ronan's photos of the event here...

Aurora, Co Mayo

Image: Ronan Newman

IAA Lecture 19th October

October's second lecture was given by Seanie Morris from Midlands Astronomy Club. Seanie is a Graphic Designer by day and a DJ on Midlands 103 by night. He is also a keen amateur astronomer and talked to us about "What was it REALLY like on Apollo 11?". This was a fascinating talk about just what was involved in getting astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the Moon while Michael Collins orbited above them. We are most grateful to Seanie for coming up from Tullamore to give us this excellent talk.

Seanie Morris

The 10 minute warm-up was delivered by Dr Andy McCrea and is available on YouTube here...

Images & Video:Paul Evans

Little Stars at Comber Primary School

IAA President Philip Baxter spent a very enjoyable and productive morning with the P4 class at Comber Primary School looking at the work they had done on their space projects. Philip said...

"Their teacher Mrs. Wendy Walker had done all the prep work and had the children primed with their questions, which ranged from, what size is a black hole, how big was Sputnik to how many rockets have been sent into space? Now that was a good one which I had to pass over quickly! I’d brought some rocks to represent moon rocks as well as meteorites and these went down a treat. It’s great to see astronomy back on the school curriculum and hopefully the kids will be looking up in the future."

Here are those "Little Stars"!

Little Stars
Image:Wendy Walker

QUB Astronomer of the Month

The QUB Astrophysics Research Centre have begun a series of video interviews with professional astronomers describing their work. These interviews can be found on the QUB ARC YouTube channel here...



Members are reminded that membership fees are now due for the 2011/12 year as of 1st September. Rates are of course the same as last year and are as follows:-

Single membership: £20 or €25

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

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

You can now join or renew your IAA Membership online by PayPal or Credit or Debit card online here...

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