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IAA at Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, 30th March

DETAILS: Friday 30th March: 6.30pm 'til late:

'Supper with the Stars':  Join the Irish Astronomical Association for a spectacular evening of stargazing and culinary delights at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre.

There will be star shows in a mobile planetarium commencing at 7.30pm, followed by celestial views of the First Quarter Moon, brilliant Venus ("the Evening Star"), and fascinating Jupiter with its four large Galilean moons, plus a lot more! All this is of course weather dependent.

There will also be an exhibition of the best photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and the best ground-based observatories plus some amazing ones by IAA members, a display of telescopes and binoculars, and some amazing meteorites.

£5 entry for stargazing experience.

£15 includes the stargazing and a two course meal (6.30pm, Loughside Café, LNDC).

Booking is essential for this event. Please contact the Interpretative team at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre on 028 3831 1673 for further details and to book a place.

Excellent Aurora photographed from Northern Ireland

Martin McKenna was observing the setting planets from the North Coast on the night of 27th/28th March when a surprise Aurora lit up the sky! The Aurora lasted approximately 6 hours with two major outbursts lighting up the sky - this shot from Ballintoy Harbour!

Ronan Newman from Galway Astronomy Club has put together a slide show of the view of this Aurora from co Sligo here...

Photo Opportunity 3rd April - The Eight Sisters

A close encounter with M45 is a common event when Venus traces its path through the sky as an Evening Star. However this time the encounter is much closer than usual with Venus joining M45 to become the much brighter Eighth Sister!

Photographically, an exposure of 1 second at ISO800 should capture all the stars with a lens in the 135-200mm range. Stopping down a bit should give Venus a "starry" effect. Alternatively a short focal length telescope will give a good view as will binoculars. this is one occasion where a big telescope will give a view that is too narrow!

IAA Lecture 4th April


In a change to the advertised fixture, we are very pleased to welcome John Flannery who will talk to us on "The Outer Limits: Exploring the Outer Solar System"

John lives in Dublin where he is Chairperson of South Dublin Astronomical Society. His interests in the hobby are the history of astronomy, outreach work, and delving into the science of naked-eye astronomy.

His professional background is in IT and he is currently studying for a BSc in Natural Science with the Open University. Although a Dublin resident for the last 25 years, John is originally from Dromineer, a small village by Lough Derg on the River Shannon in North Tipperary.

This promises to be an illuminating look at the large part of our Solar System beyond the planets that we know and love.

The lecture  is  on Wednesday 4th April in the Bell  Lecture Theatre, Physics Building, Queens  University Belfast and starts at  7:30pm sharp. Admission, as always, is free  and all are welcome.

Image: John Murphy

Cosmos 2012 - April 13th to 15th

This Spring, the 20th annual Cosmos Star Party will once again be presented by Midlands Astronomy Club and will again take place in the rural and secluded surroundings of Annaharvey Equestrian Farm, Tullamore in County Offaly. This location affords MAC many advantages, such as being 3 miles from Tullamore on the Portarlington Road, and thus away from most of the light pollution, private surroundings, secure location, and overall a great and relaxed atmosphere.

The speakers this year include:

  • Thierry Legault, world-renowned French astrophotographer

  • Girvan McKay, Midlands Astronomy Club

  • Eamon Ansbro, Kingsland Observatory, Roscommon

  • Kevin Berwick, Dublin

  • Dermot Gannon, Midlands Astronomy Club

  • Apostolos Christou, Armagh Observatory

  • Lawrence Rigney, Midlands Astronomy Club

Further details on the MAC website here..

Magnificent Image of M31 by Martin Campbell

Those of you who have seen the astrophotography of IAA member Martin Campbell will know that he is a master of the art. Martin's latest creation is well up to the usual standard - this is a stack of 131 frames of 5 mins each taken through a Takahashi Epsilon 180 Astrograph with a Canon 5D Mk2 camera on the end and post-processing work in Photoshop CS5. Stunning! Click on the image to access the full size version - warning, 3.5MB file


IAA Lecture 21st March

The second lecture in March was delivered by IAA member Derek Heatly. Derek, who features prominently at almost all our public events, is going to be the first ever astronaut from N. Ireland, assuming all goes to plan. He has booked a flight into space with Richard Branson's 'Virgin Galactic', and has already been given his number in the launch sequence, among other celebrities and private individuals. He may get his flight next year, depending on how well the first commercial flights go.

Derek has already been up to the edge of space in a high-powered supersonic Russian MIG jet fighter, and has done weightless flights in the Russian aircraft used to train their astronauts. He told us of the latest developments in the Virgin Galactic programme, and showed many photos of the test flights of the 'spaceplane' in which he is due to launch.

This lecture, entitled "Stop the World and Let Me Off!" gave a gripping account of Derek's experiences so far, and looked to his future ride into space!


Image:Paul Evans

The Warm-up talk was delivered by Andy McCrea and can be seen here...

IAA Lecture 7th March

Our guest speaker for the first meeting of March was none other than IFAS Chairman and Asteroid discoverer Dave McDonald.

This talk was entitled "Celtic Rock: Discovering Asteroids from Ireland"

Dave's own synopsis is as follows:-

In 1848, Andrew Graham stared through the telescope at Markree Observatory in County Sligo and saw a new object.  He had discovered an asteroid - a chunk of rock left over from the formation of our Solar System 5 billion years ago.  As it happens, this chunk of rock (about 230 miles in diameter) was the ninth asteroid ever discovered world-wide and the only one discovered from Ireland.


"Celtic Rock" will take you on a whistle-stop tour through our Solar System and put asteroids into context - where are they? How did they get there? Where are they going? The presentation will touch on the various discoveries made from Ireland and will mention some of the previous asteroid impacts on Earth and some very close-shaves.  The talk will wrap-up with a very brief history of Irish Astronomy and will look at what the future might hold.


The presentation is highly graphical and requires nothing more than an enquiring and interested mind.  Ideal for all.

Image:Paul Evans

As always, this was an excellent presentation from Dave combining a serious look at science and history together with some added humour that made for a great evening's craic!

Dave also made us aware that we had Three "Asteroid Men" present, so at John McConnell's suggestion we took the opportunity to catch a photo of the three...

Image:Paul Evans

L-R 21782 Davemcdonald, 16993 Moseley, 9929 McConnell



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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