The View From Here newsletter (astronomy events, etc)

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9 years 1 month ago - 9 years 1 month ago #104148 by johnflannery
Hi all,

Just sharing the latest astronomy newsletter I sent out today to my mailing list.


Subscribing to the email newsletters from the various grocery chains means the odd intriguing item turns up which piques the interest. Aldi had a range of solar lights last Sunday with one in particular designed as a lighthouse.

Lighthouses have always had a certain fascination. Typing up this newsletter last night saw me pull up some old photos I had taken of the Fastnet when rounding the rock on a trip from Baltimore. I like to think the remote and often beautifully wild locations of these beacons guide the soul back to nature.

Similarly, there are inspiring people who illuminate the Irish astronomy scene through hard work and dedication.

Two of these leading lights are Mike Foylan and Eamonn Ansbro.

Mike lives near Trim, Co. Meath and uses a 25cm Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope at his Cherryvalley Observatory (IAU code I83) to carry out a program of minor planet astrometry. It was during a recent observing run that Mike found a faint magnitude +14.5 eclipsing binary star never before noted. It lies in the constellation of Ophiuchus and flickers by half a magnitude over a period of two to four hours.

Mike first had to check the legitimacy of his initial measurements and then notify a number of people to do follow-up observations. This all requires a detailed procedure to be followed and then some. The reward is great though and a testament to Mike’s skill.

Read more about Mike’s discovery at www.irishastronomy.org/index.php?option=...71&Itemid=211#104095

Many of us know Eamonn Ansbro who has constructed the largest operational telescope (0.9m) in Ireland at his home in Kingsland, Co. Roscommon. Eamonn has long been involved in the Irish amateur astronomy scene, building his own Schmidt camera a number of years ago and also establishing a specialised optics business.

Eamonn was recently awarded a research degree from the Planetary Space Science Research Institute at the Open University. The work made a significant contribution to Solar System studies as Eamonn carried out a survey at high-ecliptic latitudes on minor planets in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. The survey took place over a period of ten years and led to the finding of 43 suspect objects outside the boundaries of our solar system. Follow-up observations combined with others may boost the argument for a far out Mars-sized object lurking beyond Pluto which is nudging EKBOs at extreme distances into similar perihelia.

I read some of Eamonn’s thesis at the Galway Astronomy Festival and it is a stunning paper giving a fascinating insight into the search for objects at the edge. The sheer hard work and dedication has been justifiably rewarded (the Doctorate was pursued part-time, which is an incredible achievement) and I’m sure you will join me in wishing Dr Ansbro continued successful collaborations with his peers in the field of EKBO and inner Oort Cloud object detection and study.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate Christopher Carragher from Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan who came second in the world in the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics category at ISEF 2015 which was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in mid-May. Christopher previously won Ireland’s SciFest 2014 and his recent success in the US also includes having an asteroid named after him. How cool is that! Read more about Christopher’s winning project at www.ista.ie/news/scifest-student-has-ast...cond-world-isef-2015

I think we should be proud Ireland has so many lighting the way in the sciences,


Solarfest 2015 bookings now open
The above link will allow you book tickets for the public open night in Dunsink Observatory on Friday, June 19th and Solarfest on Saturday, June 20th. Terry Moseley is the guest speaker on the Friday night with a talk titled "Our Sun: Friend or Foe?" Tea & coffee available throughout the day on Saturday but bring sandwiches, etc for your lunch. Speakers on Saturday will cover diverse topics such as the recent total solar eclipse seen from the air off the Irish coast, a 100-year history of solar physics, and how Mercury’s motions frustrated astronomers.

Bright Sparks – a new radio series on RTE (started on May 24th)
Bright Sparks is an eight part science series for RTÉ Radio 1 presented on Sunday nights by TCD physicist Professor Shane Bergin who poses the question; what happens when you enable bright people to follow their curiosity and solve the world’s problems? Shane meets Ireland’s cutting edge scientists and discovers how Irish science and innovation are changing how we live. He explores how these ideas are shaping how we combat disease, face climate change, and how we uncover the mysteries of the universe and the meaning of life itself.

The 10 best unsung female scientists
An excellent article on The Guardian web site looks at the lives of some female scientists you may never have heard of. It’s well worth a read. I’d also recommend some recently archived episodes of Astronomy Cast which explore the careers of female astronomers such as Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Carolyn Porco, and Vera Rubin. See www.astronomycast.com/ for details of the series called Modern Women.

The Weather Experiment
Peter Moore’s recent book The Weather Experiment has featured as the Book of the Week on the BBC. The book explores Robert Fitzroy’s struggles to establish a regular weather forecasting service and features a number of other walk-on characters in the fascinating story of the early history of trying to make sense of the weather. Fitzroy is better remembered as captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin's famous voyage. The above web link will bring you to five short excerpts from the book.

In the sky
Saturn reached opposition on May 23rd but is rather low in Libra as seen from our latitude. Bob King has written a great article on viewing the planet at www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/splash...d-brightest05202015/

The longer nights means ISS watchers will now start to have the opportunity see the space station make multiple passes during the one night of observing. Check out the link at www.heavens-above.com/PassSummary.aspx?s...renure&alt=45&tz=GMT which is set for my location. A series of four passes in the same night can be noted from early June.

Martin McKenna highlights the beginning of Noctilucent Cloud season at his web site www.nightskyhunter.com/Sky%20Events%20Now.html where you can also find a link to a more extensive article about these mysterious wisps ( www.nightskyhunter.com/Noctilucent%20Clouds.html ). Keep an eye on www.spaceweather.com/ too where they display the latest observations from NASA's AIM satellite in the left-hand sidebar. AIM monitors polar mesospheric clouds and tracks blooms of NLCs during the summer season.

International Year of Light
The Irish node of the International Year of Light have an events page at the above link to keep you informed of their program for the year. A terrific stand at the recent Light & Shadow event in UCD showcased a number of hands-on activities.

Physics Busking
The team behind Physics Busking have a busy summer schedule. Besides taking to the streets during the Festival of Curiosity in July, they will also be seen at Bloom and the CoderDojo Foundation @ the RDS. Check out their events page for more details of where to follow their performances. Using everyday household items, the team of voluntary Physics Buskers (experienced science teachers to entrepreneurial researchers) explain a variety of physics concepts so as to create ways to engage the public and share their passion and enthusiasm for science.

Dublin walking tours
Mary Mulvihill’s always entertaining walking tours exploring the history of ideas and inventors around Dublin are held each Saturday and start from the Science Gallery. The excellent Ingenious Dublin book is available as a Kindle download. Within the pages you’ll find out about the more unusual nooks and crannies of Ireland’s capital city. Check out the above link for more details of how to book a walking tour or to download Ingenious Dublin.

1965 -- the year of spacewalking firsts
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalk by Alexei Leonov on March 18th, 1965, and that by American astronaut Ed White on June 3rd, 1965. Both were important steps in the race to the Moon and space station construction as they demonstrated for the first time that space-suited humans could perform tasks and function in the vacuum of space.

The Guardian newspaper recently published some historic photos of Leonov's walk at www.theguardian.com/science/gallery/2015...i-leonov-in-pictures as well as www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/09/...ace-soviet-cosmonaut where you can read about Leonov's feat. Another interesting article can also be found at www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_9035/index.html

Ed White's mission was equally not without difficulties (Leonov struggled to return to the Voskhod capsule) as he found it difficult to control his walk. Author Ben Evans (who has written an excellent series for Springer on space exploration) penned an article about White's historic mission at www.americaspace.com/?p=20663

Friday, June 5th: The Association for Science Education conference in Belfast
St. Mary's University College, Belfast is the venue for the biennial Association for Science Education Conference this year. A wide range of talks and workshops will be held throughout the day. The Frontiers Lectures includes one by Dr Alan Fitzsimmons of QUB titled " Why land on a comet? GCSE science, that’s why!" Check the ASE web site above for more details of the program.

Monday, June 8th: Clean Coasts Ocean Talks at the Science Gallery
The Science Gallery @ TCD will host a series of talks on June 8th to celebrate World Ocean's Day. Speakers have been invited to talk about the link between their work and our blue planet. The event will be streamed live online so that people from all over the world can connect to the event just as our oceans connect us all.

Just as an aside, one of the most extraordinary books I ever read is "Mapping the Deep" by Robert Kunzig. It traces the history of oceanography, our ties to the seas, and wraps up with a discussion on the collapse of the cod fisheries off the north-eastern coast of the US. An article on this very subject by Kunzig (who is also senior environmental editor for National Geographic) can be found at discovermagazine.com/1995/apr/twilightofthecod489

Thursday, June 25th: Prof Monica Grady to give the McCrea Lecture at the RIA
The biennial McCrea Lecture at the Royal Irish Academy will be given this year by Prof Monica Grady of the Open University. Tickets are €5 and can be booked at the RIA web link above.

In November 2014 the European Space Agency landed a probe on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. As a member of the science team, Professor Monica Grady was at mission control when the landing occurred. In her talk she will introduce the topic of comets and explain why some people think they may have led to life on Earth and possibly its destruction through mass extinctions. She will also give a personal account of the Rosetta Mission, her involvement with it, and discusses some of the latest results from Rosetta.

An excellent podcast exploring Rosetta’s results to date can be found at www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts...onomy/space-boffins/

Saturday, June 27th: IAA Summer BBQ
The Irish Astronomical Association will have their annual BBQ in late-June at Armagh Observatory. Thanks to the Director, Prof Mark Bailey, and to Dr David Asher and Dr Tolis Christou who will be hosting. Admission is free to all IAA members and guests: You bring your own food, drinks, eating utensils, plates, cup, etc, and we provide the cooking facilities. We also hope to have Bob Campbell and his amazing rocket-launching machine! Can anyone beat Alison Simms's amazing rocket which won the distance/height competition last year? More details to follow.

July 23rd to 26th: Festival of Curiosity in Dublin
Dublin once again plays host this July to the annual Festival of Curiosity. The event program has not been announced yet but you can subscribe to the Festival's newsletter at the link above to learn about what is planned. Dublin Maker will take place on Saturday, June 25th in a tented village in the grounds of TCD. See www.dublinmaker.ie/ for more details.

Thoughts on an anniversary
The Phoenix lander touched down in the north polar region of Mars on May 25th, 2008 and spent three months studying its environment. It concluded its mission in November that year with a final communication to Earth as the craft succumbed to oncoming winter. Affixed to the lander though is a mini-DVD that contains messages to future Martian colonists (see www.planetary.org/explore/projects/vom/ ) and I'd like to wrap up this edition of the newsletter with an excerpt from a particularly powerful piece by Carl Sagan:

Maybe we’re on Mars because of the magnificent science that can be done there — the gates of the wonder world are opening in our time. Maybe we’re on Mars because we have to be, because there’s a deep nomadic impulse built into us by the evolutionary process — we come, after all, from hunter-gatherers, and for 99.9% of our tenure on Earth we’ve been wanderers. And the next place to wander to is Mars.

But whatever the reason you’re on Mars is, I’m glad you’re there.

And I wish I was with you.
Last edit: 9 years 1 month ago by johnflannery.
The following user(s) said Thank You: michael_murphy, johnomahony, Mike, Fermidox

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