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Upcoming Events

  • 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...

Pictures of the events will appear in the Stargazing Live 2012 Gallery as they become available

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

IAA Member is IFAS Astronomer of the Year

Congratulations are due to IAA member Neill McKeown who has been voted IFAS Astronomer of the Year by the members of the IFAS website.

For over 5 years Neill has produced a monthly observing guide for IFAS which is used on the IAA website, and in a modified form at our lectures.

So well done indeed to Neill, a wholly justified award for all the hard work!

Neill is seen here being presented with a little something as a token of the IAA's appreciation for his work.

IAA Lecture 11th January

The first of January's talks was 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. 

This was a fascinating account of Professor Smartt's work with the camera which centres on his interest of finding supernovae in other galaxies, though the instrument is so versatile that it can also find asteroids, comets and near Earth objects that could pose a threat to the planet!

The warm-up talk was delivered by Paul Evans and centred on the objects it will be possible to observe at the upcoming Stargazing Live events.

Images:Paul Evans


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...

(c) Irish Astronomical Association 2011 - All Rights Reserved