last chance until 2117 to see a Transit of the planet Venus - where
Venus passes in front of the Sun - takes place on 6th June. The most
favoured locations are Eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand, but
it is possible to see the some of the event from Ireland. However the
choice of time and location is crucial, and Terry Moseley has put
together an excellent article explaining
the choices here....
permitting there will be an IAA Public Viewing Event on the East
Antrim coast - Terry
has reconnoitred a number of sites considering a number of factors
including visibility, accessibility and car parking and we have chosen
Garron Point on the Antrim Coast Road as offering the best opportunity
of any site on the Island of Ireland.
the event of Sea Fog, always a possibility on this coast, a secondary
site has been chosen at Ballycoose - aka Knock Dhu or the car park on
the Feystown Road above Cairncastle. The sunrise is apparently just
visible from this site if we use the southerly end of the car park for
observing, and offers an elevation of 270m though the duration of
visibility is some seconds shorter than
that even though the Sun will be low in the sky, the usual precautions
still need to be observed - Never view the Sun directly with the naked
eye or with any unfiltered optical device, such as binoculars or a
eagle-eyed may have noticed a new tab on the drop-down menu - "IAA
History". This is a work in progress - the Webmaster is pulling
together, piece by piece, some items of history related to the past of
the Association. Thus far we have records of Awards given by the
Association together with past Presidents going back to the
establishment of the Belfast centre of the Irish Astronomical Society
progress are the collection of all past officials and past speakers, as
well as an improved archive of "Stardust", the quarterly magazine of
the Association, so keep an eye on this new Tab - it will expand in
months to come!
IAA AGM 18th
April marked the date of the 38th Annual General Meeting of the
Association. The purposes of the meeting were to review the activities
of the past year, elect a new Council for the coming year and for the
Council to receive feedback from the membership on how they - that's
you - would like to see the Association develop.
the Aidan P Fitzgerald Medal was awarded - this year to IAA Treasurer
and Membership Secretary Jo Magill - a thoroughly well deserved award
for the work Jo puts in, not just looking after the finances, but for
the effort she puts in to almost every Outreach event, Meeting and
"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
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
provide some entertainment following the formal proceedings, long
standing IAA member Michael Duffy talked to us about "Revenge of the
Armchair Astronomer" which consisted of a look at the use of remotely
controlled telescopes, notably itelescope.net which Michael uses for
included in the talk were some images from Michaels collection covering
the rich history of the Association.
is shown right with incoming President Paul Evans
In a change to the advertised
fixture, we were very pleased to welcome John Flannery who talked
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.
was an illuminating look at the large part of our Solar System
beyond the planets that we know and love.
Many thanks to John for stepping in
at short notice!