For a few days around Sunday 26th May, a close three-way conjunction of planets Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will be visible in the NW sky for a while shortly after sunset. Venus will be the brightest, followed by Jupiter, but on 26th Mercury will be the highest above the horizon of the three, so if you're part of the estimated 99% of the population who have never seen Mercury, now is possibly the best chance you will get! The three planets will all be within 2 degrees, or four moon diameters of each other and will remain close in the evenings before and after 26th.
Wednesday 17th April marks the date of the 39th Annual General Meeting of the Association. The purposes of the meeting are to review the activities of the past year, elect a new Council for the coming year and for the Council to receive feedback from the membership on how they - that's you - would like to see the Association develop.
The Pan-STARRS1 telescope is the largest telescope currently used to systematically survey the sky for comets and asteroids. Since starting in 2010, it has been used to make over 4 million detections of comets, asteroid and other Solar system bodies. This cornucopia of data is allowing us to study many different regions from Near-Earth space to the Kuiper Belt. In this talk Professor Alan Fitzsimmons will describe how Pan-STARRS1 works, how asteroids and comets are found, and what we have discovered so far.
Admission is free, including light refreshments, and all are welcome.
Andor Technologies is a Belfast based company manufacturing a ranges of cameras including some which are capable of high-end astrophotography. The company grew out of the Physics Department of Queens University Belfast and now supplies cameras to the world market. Some of the topics covered by the lecture will include:-
· Lucky Imaging
· Hunting for Extra Solar Planets using various techniques
Comet C/2011 L4 Pan-Starrs is now visible in the Northern Hemisphere! Seeing this new comet is a very tricky observation though it should become easier during the week. Although the Comet is quite bright - current estimates put it as mag 2 or maybe even a bit brighter, it is close to the Sun so is only visible for a short time after sunset. The map above shows where to look, but more important is the choice of viewing location - a good western horizon is essential. Start looking after sunset, probably 30 mins after the actual sunset time. On 12th and 13th March the comet will be close to the crescent Moon making location easier. Because of the twilight it may be difficult to see naked eye, but binoculars will make it a lot easier.
There will be another public astronomy evening on Friday 8th March, at the school from 7.30 p.m onwards.
As well as the school's own 14" Celestron, once again we'll have a selection of our own powerful telescopes and binoculars for viewing the night sky, an exhibition, short astronomy and space films, a selection of meteorites (rocks from space) which you can actually hold, and of course the Stardome mobile planetarium!
You'll have a chance to meet our own 'Ulsternaut', Derek Heatly from Groomsport, who is booked to fly into space with Virgin Galactic.