Club News & Events

Eclipse 2015 Report PDF Print E-mail

The star of the show this week was the sun! Not only did we get to see a great partial solar eclipse this morning (Friday 20th March 2015), we also had a couple of nights of fantastic Aurora display! Tuesday night being one of the best for a good few years!

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Solar Eclipse:
We had been told for the last few days by the local weathermen, not to expect to be able to see the eclipse as there would be too much cloud cover! For most of N.Ireland, it seems they were correct, but thankfully not for us! Our event was held at Belfast Zoo and started at 8.20am. When we arrived the sun was totally covered by the cloud but we had high hopes that would change soon and we were correct! At approx. 8.40am the sun broke through the clouds and there was a scurry of activity as everyone put on their solar glasses, which we had supplied for free. Our telescopes, 7 in total, were aligned, focused and off we went.


Images by Jonathan Bingham


At this point, approx. 100 people were seeing an eclipse, many for the first time!

Stargazing Live Events 2015 (Change of Venue!) PDF Print E-mail

bbc stargazing live

Stargazing Live Events 2015!

We are pleased to announce, with collaboration of the BBC Stargazing live television program, two great events this month!


The first event is on Friday 20th March. On this morning there will be a partial eclipse when over 90% of the sun will be covered by the moon. This is one not to be missed, as the next time we get one any better than this in Ireland, won't be until 2090!
Belfast Zoo LogoThe NIAAS will be gathering our telescopes and solar equipment and be on site at Belfast Zoo Carpark, Antrim Road, Belfast, Co.Antim (Please note this change of venue due to increased interest and accessibility options). We are delighted to be hosting this event with Belfast Zoo and their support in hosting it is greatly appreciated! The event starts at 8.20am and finishes at 10.40am. Everyone is welcome to join us here, where you will be able to view this event SAFELY! As well as our solar equipped telescopes, we will also have free solar glasses available, as we have a limited number of these, they will be issued on a first come first serve basis.
For the location of Belfast Zoo, please click this link to google maps where you can also get directions!
If you are going to come along or maybe more importantly, if you are intending to view this event from home, then please read this safety information and remember, never look directly at the sun, without the correct equipment!


Our second event is on Tuesday 24th March. We are really pleased to be holding our Annual Stargazing live evening at the Armagh Planetarium. This event starts at 6.30pm! This is the 5th year that the Planetarium has opened its doors in the evening and together we have brought the wonders of the skies outside, and fantastic events inside, to the general public. This night has been fantastically popular in the past and I'm sure this year will be too. Please note: If you are intending to go to one of the Planetariums theatre shows on the night, please book in advance by ringing them to hold a place.

Both of these events are completely free, but please remember that the telescope viewing for the eclipse and the Planetarium evening are weather dependant, so keep all fingers and toes crossed!


Gerry Anderson PDF Print E-mail

This week Northern Ireland lost one of its best known radio presenters. BBC presenter Gerry Anderson died at the age of 69 after a long illness. You may be wondering why I am writing this on an astronomy website!

Gerry was actually quite a good friend to the society, in his years of good health past chair Mia Hanna would regularly be on his radio show talking about our society and advertising our events.

Have a listen to the first phone in she done with him, very funny! 

Gerry also hosted our BBC Stargazing Live Event in Derry/Londonderry in 2012. Below are some pictures with our members:




Gerry, we'll miss you at the NIAAS!

Weather at Killylane PDF Print E-mail

You can now check the weather forecast for the NIAAS observing site at Killylane, supplied by!


Click this logo!

Andrew Trimble PDF Print E-mail
January 2002


ANDREW TRIMBLE (1907 - 2002)

It is with deep regret that we record the sad passing of the Society's only Honorary Life Member, Mr Andrew Trimble, who died on January 31st 2002, a few weeks short of his 95th birthday, after a short illness.

Andrew Trimble was the eldest son in a family of eight children of the late Mr Hamilton Trimble, and was born at Gortavale near Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. When Andrew was five, the family moved to Corkhill, near Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.

In his teens he joined the Ulster Special Constabulary and when nineteen joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the earliest age for joining. He achieved top marks in the Police Education Exam, while at Police Headquarters in Belfast, gaining the highest marks ever awarded in that exam. In 1929 he assisted in the formation of the RUC Traffic Branch, after which he moved to the clerical section. He was promoted to sergeant and moved to Bessbrook, and subsequently to Newtownhamilton, Poyntzpass, Lurgan and Donaghadee. Andrew was also an expert rifle shot, being a former winner of the Ulster Championship Medal.

In 1928 he was a member of the guard of honour for Lord Craigavon at the opening of Ballymena Town Hall, and again for the funeral procession of Lord Carson in Belfast. In 1952 he was one of only three sergeants who were chosen to represent the RUC at the funeral of King George VI. He retired in 1959 and he and his wife Elizabeth whom he had married in 1936 went to live at Finaghy outside Belfast.

Sadly Elizabeth died in 1992 when they lived at Moira in Co. Down, and Andrew continued there for another four years before a period in hospital forced him to move to Cullybackey, Co. Antrim, where he remained until a few weeks before his death.

Andrew had many interests and hobbies. These included photography, gardening and nature. Even in recent years he enjoyed being out in the garden planting flowers and watching the wildlife, but his greatest love was probably astronomy.

His interest in astronomy began when as a young boy on his father's farm, he studied the stars on clear nights and wondered what they were. Then one day at school he swapped his pocketknife for a small Boy Scout telescope, and the marvellous views of the starfields, even as seen in such a small instrument, aroused in him his love of astronomy that he retained for the rest of his long life. He always counted as his greatest moment, the occasion when he first saw the planet Saturn with its marvellous rings through the big 10-inch (25cm) refractor at the Armagh Observatory, and until very recently still observed with a Vixen 4-inch (102mm) refractor which he had bought on his 89th birthday! With this telescope his astronomical career had reached a new beginning.

In the early years he was very much a lone worker, carrying out his observations and reading up by himself. Then one day shortly after WW2, while stationed in Poyntzpass, Co. Armagh, his rector invited him to come and lecture on astronomy to the Church Youth Guild. Having no illustrations he contacted Armagh Observatory for the loan of some slides. His call was taken by the late Dr Ernst J Öpik, and not only did he loan him the slides, but invited him to become a member of the then Armagh Centre of the Irish Astronomical Society, now the IAA.

For a number of years he was Chairman of the Belfast Centre of the IAS and was so when I joined back in 1968, and to a young boy at that time, he was like a father- figure. In later years he was elected President of the IAS, which at that time covered all Ireland and was the highest post attainable in amateur astronomy in Ireland. I was honoured when three years ago in my capacity as Chairman of the East Antrim Astronomical Society, we invited him to become Honorary Life Member, a position that made him very proud to accept.

Andrew was a Committed Christian, and like King David of old, he was convinced that "The Heavens declare the Glory of God", and he always regretted that few, if any, astronomical writers give to God the credit of being the creator, controller, and upholder of the Universe.

By John McConnell FRAS

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