Astronomy News « South Dublin Astronomy

By: South Dublin Astronomy  05/12/2011
Keywords: Astronomy

Astronomy News « South Dublin Astronomy

In this newsletter:

FREE telescope * lunar eclipse tonight * Perseids on the 12th * More spots in astronomers eyes
MAC’s StarBQ * Competitions galore * iPhone astronomy * Out and about

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Brian Noonan of the Irish Astronomical Society contacted me on Tuesday evening about an 8.5-inch f/6 telescope he co-built in 1970 which is available FREE or for a nominal cost to anyone interested

The telescope is on a fork-mount with a worm gear drive (not motorised) and the mirror has been recently re-aluminised. The telescope is currently in County Cavan with the mirror removed and in alternate temporary storage there

If you are interested then the telescope MUST be collected by this weekend (August 8/9) or the school where it currently is will dispose of it (their ultimatum!) The mirror is in safe-keeping with a former teacher so that will survive (the mirror would not be available this weekend, but in about a fortnight’s time.)

Anyone seriously interested in acquiring this historic instrument (octagonal wooden tube styled along the lines of Herschel’s telescopes) should contact Brian Noonan on 086-1976673 in the next day or two for more detailed information.

Brian’s teacher friend also has a 4-inch Vixen achromat refractor on a Polaris mount with a Sky Sensor drive for sale (price €500 to €600 for this newer instrument).

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2009 August 06 — Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon dips into the outer, or penumbral, part of the Earth’s shadow cast in space. Often only a subtle darkening is noticed and even then, the magnitude of a penumbral eclipse needs to be at least 0.70 for anything obvious to be noticed. The magnitude of tonight’s penumbral eclipse is only 0.402. Mid-eclipse occurs at 00h 39m (01h 39m BST) tomorrow morning but even then, nothing will probably be seen by the naked-eye observer. That said, material lofted high in the atmosphere by recent volcanic eruptions may yet play a contribution in how dark tonight’s eclipse is. The very bright “star” shining close to the Moon tonight is the planet Jupiter.

Fred Espenak’s eclipse web page at has more details along with a chart.

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The dependable Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12th this year but conditions are far from ideal as the waning gibbous Moon rises at 20h 30m. However, they are bright and fast with a number leaving brief trains so it is worth the effort to get out and observe them during the normally mild weather. Enhanced rates were noted outside the traditional peak in 2004 so there could be some surprises. There is a possibility we may pass through a ribbon of material on the morning of August 12th, leading to higher numbers of fainter meteors. The full story is on

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Hot on the heels of Anthony Wesley’s discovery of a dark spot on Jupiter marking the site of a comet or asteroid impact ( ), a New York amateur astronomer found a bright spot in the atmosphere of Venus the same day! Scientists speculate that the bright spot could be the upwelling of material in Venus’ atmosphere while others suggest a volcanic eruption on the planet may be the cause. Astronomers have long believed Venus may still have on-going volcanic activity. More details about the discovery are at

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Seanie Morris of the Midlands Astronomy Club has posted details of the group’s annual Perseid StarBQ. The annual event, running since 1992, will be held again this Saturday night, August 8th, at MAC’s observing site in Clonminch two miles outside Tullamore. This is an open invitation for friends of MAC to come and have a barbecue, camp under the stars, and have some fun. MAC will provide the barbecue and cooking implements, you just need to bring your own food and drink, and camp supplies if you intend on staying overnight … oh, and astronomy equipment, just in case!

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1. See for details of a Geological Survey of Ireland photo competition (closing date is October 9th, 2009)

2. The University of Ulster and Armagh Planetarium are running a competition to celebrate the achievements of Jocelyn Bell Burnell. The competition is open to all people aged 14 – 19 in the island of Ireland. For more details see the poster at:

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Programmer and amateur astronomer John Kennedy has released a new sky-charting application for the popular Apple iPhone. You can read more about the application at

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Dr Jayanne English will present a talk in the Science Gallery, TCD, on August 7th. The talk is called Cosmos versus Canvas: Tensions between Art and Science in Astronomy Images, and explores how we perceive astronomical images as science or art – especially when they have been highly processed. More details on the talk can be found at

STAR WARS EXHIBITION: “GALACTIC TREASURES” — This exhibition, run in conjunction with “Emerald Garrison – Knights of the Empire”, runs at Armagh Planetarium from 1 to 28 August. Normal admission charges apply. See and for more details.

Astronomy Ireland will hold a talk called “Mad about meteorites” on August 10th in TCD. More details at

Astronomy Ireland’s annual StarBQ will be held on August 22nd. More details at

Check out further events for IYA 2009 at
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All the best,


The information in this article was current at 02 Dec 2011

Keywords: Astronomy

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Astronomy News « South Dublin Astronomy - astro news

The strength of the force of gravity is one of the determinants of how hot the stars burn– If the force of gravity was stronger, stars would burn up too quickly and erratically for life to exist– If the force of gravity was weaker, stars wouldn’t be hot enough for nuclear fusion; no heavy elements would be produced.