Club News & Events
April 2017 Meeting PDF Print E-mail

The next meeting of the 2017 season is on Monday 3rd April, it starts at 8pm sharp in our usual venue of Ballyclare High School Lecture Theatre. Directions can be found here.

david liskOur speaker for April is our very own, NIAAS member Dr. David Lisk. The title of his talk is 'Astro Spectroscopy'.

Spectroscopy is a technique used to measure the spectrum of electromagnet radiation and includes the visible light which radiates from stars and hot celestial objects. The technology is now available to the amateur astronomer to make such measurements and enables anyone, using free on line software and a Digital SLR or CCD camera, to participate in this interesting area of astronomy.

Using a Digital Camera or Telescope, fitted with a 'Spectra Grating' along with appropriate analysis software, the amateur can take scientific measurements from stars many hundreds if not thousands of light years away. A stars type, temperature and chemical composition can be determined.
The talk examines what Astronomical Spectroscopy is and pays tribute to its early pioneers. The terms used in Astro-Spectroscopy are explained, for example the identification and importance of Hydrogen Balmer lines which show up as dark strips on the spectrum and how these lines contribute to a stars identification. The equipment and computer software required to carry out spectroscopy on stars is examined and an example of the process of turning a spectrum image into useful calibrated scientific data is undertaken. Such data produced can be compared, for example, to the professional 'Pickles' Star Atlas reference library to identify star types.
This is an exciting aspect of astronomy and is now available to any enthusiastic amateur.

We are delighted to have one of our own members give us a talk on a subject he is interested in, although I suspect this is more than an interest, as David has just had a 2 page article on this topic published in this months Astronomy Now magazine.

About David: Dr David Lisk has been interested in astronomy for many years and his interests also include the study and understanding of black holes and quasars. He was the Head of Informatics and Technology at an Institute of Higher Education where he also lectured in Applied Science.

Please note: Under 16's are very welcome but due to our child protection policy, we ask that they are accompanied by an adult.

As always the talk is free, a donation bucket is available at the door if you wish to support us in our work! Refreshments are available (also free) after the meeting and so is some good chat!

Hope to see you all there!

 
March 2017 Meeting PDF Print E-mail

The next meeting of the 2017 season is on Monday 6th March, it starts at 8pm sharp in our usual venue of Ballyclare High School Lecture Theatre. Directions can be found here.

morgan fraserOur speaker for March is Dr. Morgan Fraser from University College Dublin. The title of his talk is 'Gaia: Mapping the Milky Way and Beyond from Space'.

His talk is going to cover everything about ESA's Gaia mission, how the satellite works and the latest data received from it. If you were with us last month to see Prof. Stephen Smartt talking about supernovae, this talk will carry on nicely as Morgan will also tell us how the Gaia mission detects them.

We are delighted to have Morgan with us for the first time to give us this talk and I'm sure you will all make him very welcome.

About Morgan: Dr. Morgan Fraser is a Royal Society - Science Foundation Ireland University Research Fellow at University College Dublin. He obtained his PhD from Queens University Belfast, where he worked on identifying stars in nearby galaxies which had exploded as supernovae. After this, he spent time as a post-doctoral researcher at Queens, before moving to the University of Cambridge to work on transients found as part of the European Space Agency's Gaia mission. At present his research focusses on whether some stars can collapse to form black holes without a bright supernova explosion, and what drives the outbursts and eruptions seen from the most massive stars.

Please note: Under 16's are very welcome but due to our child protection policy, we ask that they are accompanied by an adult.

As always the talk is free, a donation bucket is available at the door if you wish to support us in our work! Refreshments are available (also free) after the meeting and so is some good chat!

Hope to see you all there!

 
February 2017 Meeting PDF Print E-mail

The next meeting of 2017 is our annual Andrew Trimble Memorial Lecture, it will be held on Monday 6th February, it starts at 8pm sharp in our usual venue of Ballyclare High School Lecture Theatre. Directions can be found here.

stephen smarttOur speaker for this special meeting is Professor Stephen Smartt from Queens University Belfast and his talk is titled 'Black Holes And Disappearing Stars'.

We are delighted to have Stephen back with us for this special talk and I'm sure you will all make him very welcome. Stephen is a global authority on Supernova and is also the Director of the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB. Please have a look at his university page linked here to appreciate the full scope of his work and research.

This is as always a special night in our season, as we remember the contribution that Andrew Trimble made to not just our small society but to the wider field of astronomy in Ireland. Please fell free to come along to this lecture as it promises to be a great night.

Please note: Under 16's are very welcome but due to our child protection policy, we ask that they are accompanied by an adult.

As always the talk is free, a donation bucket is available at the door if you wish to support us in our work! Refreshments are available (also free) after the meeting and so is some good chat!

Hope to see you all there!

 
January 2017 Meeting PDF Print E-mail

The first meeting of the 2017 is on Monday 9th January, it starts at 8pm sharp in our usual venue of Ballyclare High School Lecture Theatre. Directions can be found here.

e_scullionOur speaker for January is Dr. Eamon Scullion from the University of Northumbria Newcastle and his talk is titled 'Solar Vortex'

We are delighted to have Eamon with us for the first time to give us this talk and I'm sure you will all make him very welcome. As you can see below, Eamon's speciality is the sun so we are really looking forward to hearing his lecture.

About Eamon: Originally from North Antrim, Eamon qualified from Queens University in 2005 and followed this up with a Masters by research on Solar Physics at the University of Glasgow.

Between 2007 and 2010, he completed a Ph.D. in Solar Physics with thesis titled, "Investigating Jets in the lower-to-mid Solar Atmosphere: Observations and Numerical Simulations".

Eamon specialises in observational solar physics, which involves image processing and data analysis on high resolution observations of the lower atmosphere of the Sun. 

Please feel free to join us for our first meeting of the year. If you recieved the gift of a telescope for christmas, you are welcome to come along and get some advice from our experts after the lecture.

Please note: Under 16's are very welcome but due to our child protection policy, we ask that they are accompanied by an adult.

As always the talk is free, a donation bucket is available at the door if you wish to support us in our work! Refreshments are available (also free) after the meeting and so is some good chat!

Hope to see you all there!

 
December 2016 Meeting PDF Print E-mail

The last meeting of 2016 is on Monday 5th December, it starts at 8pm sharp in our usual venue of Ballyclare High School Lecture TheatreDirections can be found here.

david_asherOur speaker for December is Dr. David Asher from the Armagh Observatory and his talk is titled 'Did the ancient Maya observe meteor storms?'.

We are delighted to have Dave back with us again to give us another fascinating talk on the subject of meteors. If you have any questions on Meteors this is you chance to ask one of the leading experts in the field!

Dr David Asher has been a regular speaker for us, dating back to 2002! The last time he was with us was in 2012, so we are well overdue another visit from him.

About Dave: Research Fellow at the Armagh Observatory, here is a link to his page and his publications: http://star.arm.ac.uk/~dja/dja.html.

As this is the last meeting of 2016, please come along and join us for what promises to be excellent evening.

Please note: Under 16's are very welcome but due to our child protection policy, we ask that they are accompanied by an adult.

As always the talk is free, a donation bucket is available at the door if you wish to support us in our work! Refreshments are available (also free) after the meeting and so is some good chat!

Hope to see you all there!

 
November 2016 Meeting PDF Print E-mail

JohnThe next meeting of the current season will be held on Monday 7th November 2016, starting at 8pm in Ballyclare High School Lecture Theater. Directions can be found here

We are really pleased to have a good friend to the NIAAS along to give us a talk. Mr John Flannery from SDAS Dublin will be coming up to give us a talk titled 'The Sky By Eye'.

About the talk: Arthur C. Clarke once described the Universe as a device contrived for the perpetual astonishment of astronomers. Anyone can discover that sense of wonder. You just have to look up. It's a common belief you need some form of optical equipment to witness those astonishing sights but that is not the case.

The Sky by Eye is a list that encourages people to observe the Universe with the unaided eye. It comprises objects and phenomena ranging from the whimsical to challenging. Examples include studying the colours of the Moon, tracking a planet through its opposition loop, observing the broad spectrum of atmospheric optics, and much.

The beauty of the Sky by Eye list is that you can delve deeper into areas such as meteor observing or revisit some aspects as your awareness grows. You may take a lifetime to tick off all the sights but the goal is to open your eyes to understanding and appreciating the rhythms of the sky, as well as build a foundation to enhance your enjoyment of astronomy. The list draws on the work of others including Joe Orman (joeorman.shutterace.com/100.pdf), Fred Schaaf, and Chet Raymo, who all touch the soul of why we are naturalists of the night.

About John: John is a software developer for a Dublin-based company. He is a long-time member of the Irish Astronomical Society and edits their journal. John also contributes the monthly solar system notes for Whitaker's Almanac and compiles a widely-used annual calendar for the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies. His main interests in astronomy are world sky lore, history, binocular observing, atmospheric phenomena, and outreach.

We are really excited to have John up with us and we hope you will join us for this meeting as it's one not to miss!

As usual, free refreshments will be available after the meeting along with good chat and a chance to catch up after our break. 

Under 16's are welcome to come along, but we ask that they are accompanied by an adult.

A donation bucket will be available at the door, if any non members wish to support us!

Hope to see you all there!

 
Perseid Meteor Shower BBQ PDF Print E-mail

Perseid_matchett

The annual Perseid meteor shower is looming again, which means that the annual NIAAS bbq and observing session is almost upon us.

Peak viewing time is after dark on the night of Thursday 11th August. This year the number of visible meteors will be somewhat reduced owing to the waxing moon, which reaches first quarter on 10th August. However, astronomers are predicting that the normally rather broad meteor shower will be enhanced on the night of the 11th/12th August by an additional approximately 100 meteors per hour, that is, the shower will exhibit a rare meteor "outburst".

UPDATE! BBQ on TONIGHT (Saturday)! Based on the latest weather forecast we are now planning to run our annual BBQ tonight. As usual we will be meeting in the carpark at Killylane Reservoir about 9.30pm. Directions here!

No optical aid is needed to see the meteors, although by all means bring your telescopes and binoculars along for some regular observing as well as meteor watching. A comfortable seat, or even a sun lounger, is useful, and if you are so inclined, you can bring along pencils and paper or a counter of some sort to record the number of meteors seen.

Cooking equipment will be provided, but please bring your own food and drink. If you have a portable barbecue, bring it with you, as the more cooking facilities we have, the quicker everyone will get fed. We'll try to provide some boiling water for tea and coffee.

Make sure to wrap up warm, and bring a blanket or even a sleeping bag for extra warmth.

As always, let's hope for clear skies on the night. Hope to see a good turnout.

 
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