New Year Lecture
"Dreams of becoming an Astronaut: A Vision becoming a Reality"
On January 12th we present a special New Year lecture by Norah Patten from Limerick University on her quest to become the first Irish person to go into space. A native of Ballina, County Mayo; Norah Patten first visited NASA in her teenage years and afterwards set her heart on a career in the space sector and fuelled with excitement and determination. Her passion continued into secondary school when for her second year art project she built a Saturn V model rocket made from washing-up liquid bottles with an Irish flag painted on the side. When she completed her Leaving Certificate she went to the University of Limerick to study Aeronautical Engineering and graduated in 2006 with a first class honors' degree.
In the summer of 2010 she was a participant in the Space Studies Program (SSP) at the International Space University (ISU) which opened the doors into her space career. She is currently the chairperson of the Space Management and Business Department at ISU SSP while her full time job is in Limerick as Communications and Outreach Manager with the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp). She recently co-coordinated 'The Only Way is Up' initiative at IComp in which an experiment designed by secondary school students from Saint Nessan's Community College, Limerick to determine how man-made products are sustainable in Space and, in this instance, to determine if reinforced concrete can be used as a building material. This experiment was sent to the International Space Station and has since been returned to Earth by
When she read about the Lynx Space Academy competition, she knew she had to apply. The competition is run by Lynx and is offering 22 people from across the globe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel into space. There are three stages involved in the competition and the first stage is down to votes. She has set up a Face book page 'Ireland's First Astronaut' with details of how people can vote. Towards the end of 2016 the Lynx space plane is expected to begin flying suborbital space tourism. Unlike the Virgin Space Ship Two which is air launched, the pilot will ignite the four rocket engines on the runway and begin a steep climb. The engines will be shut off at approximately 190,000 feet travelling three times the speed of sound (Mach 3); the space plane will then continue to climb, unpowered until it and coasts to peak altitude of 350,000ft. The spacecraft will experience a little over four minutes of weightlessness before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.
A Jewel in the Night
One of the jewels of the Winter sky is now on prominently on view. Its is a A diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way south of Orion's Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344 ± 20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth.
The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. It has a mass of about 2000 times the mass of the Sun. Photo taken by Cormac Coyne on the smallest of the Aran Islands; Inish Oirr recently using a Canon 7d with EdgeHD 8", 0.7 Focal Reducer, ISO 1250, 205 seconds exposure.
Watch out for the Geminids this week
When it comes to annual meteor showers, mid-December's Geminids rank right up there with August's Perseids as a great, dependable display. Geminids will peak on the nights of Saturday and Sunday, December 13th and 14th.On those nights, under a clear, dark sky, you might see a "shooting star" every minute from about 10pm until dawn. If your sky has lots of light pollution then the count will be lower, but the brightest meteors will still shine through. Light from a last-quarter Moon won't become a hindrance until it rises close to midnight. The Geminids can be annually observed between December 4 and December 17, with its peak activity being around December 14th.
The shower owes its name to the constellation Gemini from where the meteors seem to emerge from in the sky. Unlike most other meteor showers, the Geminids are associated not with a comet but with an asteroid - the 3200 Phaethon. The asteroid takes about 1.4 years to orbit around the Sun. The Geminids are considered to be one of the more spectacular meteor shower during a year, with the possibility of sighting around 120 meteors per hour at its peak. While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower – just lay down on the ground and look directly above and you are bound to see some meteors – astronomers suggest looking towards the south to view the Geminids.
Back to Basics Workshops
As part of our outreach program we offer a series of free monthly "Back to Basics" beginner workshops held at NUI Galway where both the public and club members can expand their knowledge and observing skills as well as meeting new people. Workshops start at 7.30pm and take place at Room 220 in the Physics Department in NUI Galway just off the main concourse. We hope to see as many as you at them and remember entry is free, Beginners are most welcome.
Our next Workshop will take place on Monday the Decemnber 8th on the subject of "Telescopes for Christmas" while on the 19th of January at 7.30pm with a talk by veteran member Markus Woerner with a workshop entitled "History in the Heavens Above-Identifying the Constellations and Naming the Stars".
NB..This is a change from the original program.
Galway Astronomy Festival 2015
Galway Astronomy Festival themed "New World's, New Horizons" is taking place on February 21st, come along to a great day of events with workshops, trade and information stalls and talks by internationally acclaimed speakers. Now in its 12th year, has become one of the most popular events in Ireland of the Irish astronomical calender, where amateurs and professionals meet, essential for exchanging information, successful stargazing and mutual progress. We look forward to seeing you, hopefully under clear skies. Entry for the full day only €20 or why not come along to our afternoon free talk entitled "Measuring the Distances to the Stars & The Making of History's Greatest Star Map" by British astrophysicist Michael Perryman.
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1 Professor Michael Perryman (UCD): "Measuring the Distances to the Stars"
Co author of the "Millennium Star Atlas" and project scientist of the GAIA Space Astrometry mission. (FREE PUBLIC LECTURE)
2 Daniel (Eclipsedan) Lynch: "Light into Dark: Chasing Total Solar Eclipses"
Irish Eclipse chaser of ten international Total Solar Eclipses and his talk will serve as a prelude to the March 2015 Solar Eclipse.
3 Nick Howes: "A Tail of Two Comets - Serendipity and Discovery" and after Dinner talk : "Under African Skies... the Astro Safari adventure of a lifetime"
Amateur astronomer at the Kielder Observatory, UK, Consultant and Science writer
4 Damian Peach: "Worlds of the Solar System
World renowned planetary imager, Damian has spent the last ten years documenting the changing face of our solar system with crystal clear images good enough to stand alongside those of the Hubble Space Telescope
5 Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor: "The Rosetta Mission and its lander Philae"
Susan Mckenna Lawlor is the Emeritus professor in Experimental physics at the National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM) and the founder and director of Space Technology Ireland Ltd which builds instrumentation for various space experiments flown on ESA, NASA and Russian missions. She also developed a set of instruments to monitor the Martian solar wind on the Mars Express mission launched by the European Space Agency. Her talk will look at the Rosetta Comet mission for which her team built an instrument on its lander that will touchdown on the comet this November.
6 Dr Christopher Watson: Title TBA
Dr Chris Watson from Queens University Belfast who will provide the very latest up-to-date information on the fascinating area of research about Extra Solar Planets. At QUB he has lectureship position studying the impact of stellar activity on the nature and detection of extra-solar planets and has been busy designing techniques to help in the hunt for these New Worlds orbiting other stars
7 Dave Grennan: Title TBA
Dave Grennan well known Irish amateur astronomer and Supernova hunter based at his Dublin suburban home observatory; "J41 Raheney Observatory". He has discovered three Supernovae in recent years and more recently his third using a home built telescope with a mirror that he ground himself. Dave will present a workshop during the lunch break detailing the delicate steps involved for a person to make their own perfect mirror for use on a telescope.
If you have any queries regarding the Club call the chairperson; Ronan Newman at 0868434003