We will be Observing with the Mobile Planetarium at Portballintrae Visitors' Centre from 7:30pm onwards on Friday 23rd November. The Forecast is good - a 10 day old Moon and Jupiter will be in the sky with opportunities to see many other objects through our telescopes. Indoors we'll have displays of astronomical paraphernalia and experts on hand to help you set up your telescope, so if you have one and haven't been getting the use you hoped from it, bring it along! As always, all are welcome
Total Eclipse Cairns, Queensland, Australia – 14th November 2012
After checking out the site close to Ellis Beach, roughly 5km north of Palm Cove earlier in the day, my wife Shirley and our fellow umbraphiles, Col and Marcia Maybury headed to Col’s aptly named ‘Hat tree’ beach. The name came from a hat which Col had tied to a tree on an earlier ‘reckie’ visit with his lovely wife Marcia.
Our lecture on 14th November concerns the Sun again, but this time from a different perspective. As the Sun emerges from the deepest minimum in a century, some scientists are beginning to suspect that we may be on the verge of another period of low solar activity like the Maunder Minimum. This was a period in the 17th century when the sunspot cycle seemed to be almost put on hold with many fewer sunspots even at the peaks of the 11 year cycle. This brought about "The Little Ice Age" during which Europe and North America had very cold winters. Certain irregularities in the way Solar Cycle 24 is developing look as if we may be about to experience something similar!
On the evening of Tuesday 13th November the Moon will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun giving rise to the phenomenon that many consider to be nature's finest spectacle, the Total Solar Eclipse. Unfortunately the event is only visible in a narrow corridor which sweeps across the Pacific making landfall in North Queensland in the early morning of 14th November local time.
One of the best astronomical projects to have been launched this year is the Dark Sky Discovery programme which the IAA is working on in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Space Office. The first of what we hope will be many of these events takes place at Delamont Country Park on Friday 9th November at 7pmand is being run in association with Down District Council