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Covid-19 Virus Notice

17th March 2020: All IAS meetings and observing nights are cancelled until futher notice. This includes our AGM.

We urge each of you to take care and we look forward to seeing you all when the Government recommendations change. In the meantime, we might have some clear skies and I hope you can make best use of them.


Betelgeuse re-brightening

The famous red-giant star Betelgeuse, in Orion, is now brightening again. It was about mag +1.1 in mid March 2020. The recent minimum is the faintest since the 1920s.


Venus brilliant in the Evening Sky

Venus is now a glorious object in the Evening sky, brighter than any other planet or star. The magnitude -4.5 planet sets nearly 5 hours after the Sun and is visible in a dark sky. Greatest elongation occurred on 24th March 2020.

To reduce the glare from the planet the best time to look in a telescope is during Twilight. It now 'half' phase. We see the gleaming cloud tops of the planet. Try using filters to tease out some details.

The Chart show the position of Venus at the end of civil twilight from Dublin. (Produced by J.O'Neill).

venus graph

Sky-High 2020

skyhigh 2020

Our yearly almanac Sky-High 2020 is now available. It is now in its 28th year.

Sky-High has articles on upcoming events regarding Planets, Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, Eclipses and Variable Stars. It has a detailed Diary tailored for Irish Observers. It includes a handy table of sunset and twilight times as well as Moon phases. It also features a number of guest articles.

Please see more details, that includes information in obtaining a copy.

Please note that paid-up IAS members have been mailed a free copy. Sky-High 2019 has been added to the free Archive.



Members observe Total Solar Eclipse of 9 March 2016 from Indonesia

solar eclipse

Angela O'Connell reports:

A view of totality from the MS Volendam, on the starboard bow, mid-ship. We were located in the Makassar Strait between the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi, about 1½ degrees south of the equator. The sea was surprisingly calm and the ship was steady allowing those of us with tripods to relax and concentrate on the spectacle which lasted 2 min 46 sec approximately. Photo (at left) taken 08:34 (local time), 9th March 2016 with Lumix GM5 on automatic night scene setting.


solar eclipse

Terry Moseley reports:

The solar corona during totality. Photo taken 08:36 (local time), 9th March 2016 with Canon Power Shot with x42 zoom.

The next total solar eclipse occurs in August 2017, only touching land in USA.



Total Lunar Eclipse of 28 September 2015 was well seen by most

lunar eclipse

We were treated to a fine total lunar eclipse.

The photo of the eclipse was taken by J. O'Neill, at 02.21 UT, with a 106 mm refractor at f/8. This was 10 min after the start of totality.

The next total lunar eclipse visible from Ireland occurs in July 2018.

Members please report any observations, drawings or photographs to our Director of Observations, Liam Smyth for inclusion in the next issue of Orbit.



Comet Lovejoy 2014 Q2 near Polaris

In late May 2015, the comet passed about 1° from the pole star Polaris. Remarkably, it was still visible (as of 23 May) in binoculars, at just below mag 8. It was an excellent time to image the comet with a fixed camera, as trailing would be slight.

The photo (below) of the comet is by John O'Neill and was taken on 9-10 January 2015 (cropped; 200 mm camera lens). The drawing of 19 January 2015 is by Deirdre Kelleghan, with details appended.

Please report any observations, drawings or photographs to our Director of Observations, Liam Smyth.

comet lovejoy

comet lovejoy


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