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Upcoming Eventst

  • 7th January 2012 - IAA New Year Party
  • 11th January - Lecture - Prof Stephen Smartt - "Astronomy with the PANSTARRS 1 telescope"
  • 16-18th January - BBC Stargazing Live!
  • 25th January - Lecture - Paul Evans "Manned Space Exploration - the First 50 Years"
  • 27th January - A Night under the Stars at Delamont Country Park with BBC Radio Ulster

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BBC Stargazing Live!

Those who remember last year's series will be pleased to hear that "Stargazing Live!" is returning to BBC 2 in the New Year for another three nights of astronomy presented again by Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain. This year the series of three programmes will be bigger and better than before, and the excellent news is that the IAA will be partnering Armagh Planetarium, Queens University Astronomers and the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre for the main event in Northern Ireland, currently scheduled for Tuesday 17th January. The programmes themselves will be on BBC 2 from 8:00 until 9:30PM on 16th, 17th and 18th January. Also, we expect the News and Weather teams in BBC NI to take an interest.

We will be involved in events over this period as follows:-

Monday 16th January 1800-2100 - Public Jupiter Watch in conjunction with the Astronomers at Queens University Belfast. In the event of inclement weather Dr Chris Watson will deliver a Public Astronomy Lecture in the Larmour Theatre.

Tuesday 17th January 1800-2100 - The Main event at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre nr Lurgan - programme of events as follows....

  • Public Observing if clear: Venus, Jupiter, + all the usual Deep Sky wonders with a selection of powerful telescopes and binoculars.
  • Stardome presentations: due to the expected demand, these will be ticket only, issued on a first come - first served basis.
  • Amazing Photo Exhibition: The fantastic A0 size photos produced for IYA 2009 will again be on show, plus some of the best from other sources.
  • Telescope and binocular exhibition: see all the varieties available, the pros and cons of each, and learn how to use them to their best capacity.
  • Meteorites: an exhibition of many different sorts of meteorites - hold in your hand a piece of outer space (if you can hold it!), with experts there to talk about them.
  • Our first "Ulsternaut" - Derek Heatly from Co Down, who has booked to go into space with Virgin Galactic's Spaceship One will be there to talk about his training experiences and forthcoming flight, with videos.
  • Astrophotography for beginners" - A 'taster session' by our own expert, Paul Evans.
  • Q&A session: 'Everything you always wanted to know about astronomy' - a panel of experts will be there to answer questions from the public on everything from the Andromeda Galaxy to the Zeeman Effect.
  • Hands-On demos: How to make a comet, etc.
  • Children's activities, such as making willow stars.

In other words, something for everyone! Note that we are hoping for clear skies on both of these nights and it is likely to be cold, so please wear warm clothes - ie coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

Wednesday 18th January - events as follows:-

Armagh Observatory in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency will be presenting a series of events at An Creagán and Beaghmore Stone Circles - details on the Observatory website here...

Armagh Planetarium will be presenting a Stargazing Live event - details on the Planetarium website here...

Date & Venue TBC - Talk by IAA Webmaster Paul Evans "Getting Started in Astrophotography"


IAA Lecture 11th January

The first of January's talks will be given by Professor Stephen Smartt, Professor of Astrophysics at Queens University, Belfast, entitled "Astronomy with the PanSTARRS1 Telescope"

The PanSTARRS1 is a 1.8 meter (60-inch) diameter telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, and is designed to automatically search the skies for objects that either move or change their brightness from night to night. It contains the world's largest digital camera, with 1,400 megapixels, and can image a patch of sky about 40 times the area of the full moon, much larger than any similar-sized telescope on Earth or in space. 

The lecture is on WEDNESDAY 11 January, at 7.30 p.m., in the Bell Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queen's University, Belfast. ADMISSION IS FREE, as always, and includes light refreshments. Everyone is welcome!


Amazing Sungrazing Comet!

Comet Lovejoy was originally thought to be one of many comets that appear on the Solar monitoring telescopes, dive into the Sun and are never seen again. This one was different however. On 16th December Comet Lovejoy passed within 75,000 miles of the Sun and survived the trip! It is now visible - sadly only in the Southern Hemisphere - as a spectacular object before sunrise. It has also been filmed from the ISS where astronaut Dan Burbank has described it as "the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space!"

See video from NASA here... and magnificent photos from Rob McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory here...

IAA Lecture 14th December

December's lecture featured Dr Ryan Milligan from Queens University Belfast. Dr Milligan is a local astronomer who used to drive lorries for a living then decided to take up Astronomy as a full-time pursuit, studying at QUB then working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington DC.

This talk, entitled "Exploring the current rise in Solar Activity" covered all aspects of Dr Milligan's work including a few clips from "disaster" movies exploring the hypothesis that the end of the world as we know it will be brought about by a solar flare next year, and why this probably won't happen!

The warm-up talk was delivered by Stardust Editor Dr Andy McCrea and can be seen below, in glorious 720p HD.

Image:Paul Evans

IAA New Year Party

A date for the diary - the IAA New Year Party will be held again at McBrides Restaurant in Comber, County Down at 5:30PM on Saturday 7th January followed by a film, "Cowboys and Aliens" at the Tudor Cinema in Comber afterwards. Regular features including Terry's Hot Punch, and of course the Quiz will be included. Further details on the booking form 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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