IAS Banner

Stars, Comets and Mince Pies

Friday, 13th December 2019 (19.30 hrs) at Dunsink Observatory, Dublin 15.

The IAS is organising this special social event, for amateur astronomers, to mark the festive season.

This year it will include short talks:

Rocket engines and orbital mechanics by Kevin Fleming.
Science Buzz organised by Michael Grehan and his team.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Observatory by Terry Moseley.

These will be followed by a special Astronomy Table Quiz (organised by Patricia Carroll). We will also have a selection of images from our Images of Starlight exhibition on display.

Light refreshments will be available including mince pies and plenty of chat before a warm log fire. The night is for amateur astronomers and their friends. The IAS would specially like to extend the invitation to our many friends in IFAS Clubs and in the various astronomy groups. Most of all it is hoped this event will be an opportunity for like minded people to meet old friends and make new ones and we look forward to seeing you there.


Mira is still a naked-eye object

The Long Period Variable star Omicron Ceti (proper name Mira) is now declining a little, now at 4th magnitude at the beginning of December 2019. The mean period of variation is 332 days and when at minimum it is usually 10th magnitude.


Outer Giants on view in the Evening Sky

In the beginning of December 2019 the planet Neptune is just 1.5° WSW of Phi Aquarii (magnitude 4.2) and still well on view in the evening sky. Neptune is mag 7.9 and was at opposition on 10th September 2019. Steadily held binoculars should suffice.

Uranus came to opposition on 28th October 2019. In early December 2019 it lies 11.3° south of Alpha Arietis (mag 2.0). Uranus is then of magnitude 5.7 and an easy binocular object.


Membership renewal is due

Members are reminded that annual subscriptions are now due. If you have already paid thank you.


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


What's on?

2019 Dec 13, IAS Event, Dunsink Obs.

Please see EVENTS/opposite for more details and further events.

If you would like to attend Dunsink Observatory Public Open Nights that are supported by the IAS, you can find more details at Dunsink Observatory.



Visit our Facebook page:



Application form: Join Here

Copyright © I.A.S., Authors & Imagers. Webmasters: John O'Neill & Sara Beck.