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1  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Dr Brian Marsden (1937 - 2010) on: November 18, 2010, 08:49:30 pm
Indeed very sad news.  Brian was a very generous man with his time and his amazing and encyclopaedic knowledge.  Brian was instrumental in the naming process for my mum's asteroid and I will be forever grateful to him for that.  I was shocked when John McC phoned to pass on the sad news.  John I know he was a very close personal friend to you and you also have my sympathies at this time.

Ár dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís.

2  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Dave Grennan Discovers Supernova! on: October 07, 2010, 11:06:35 pm
Hi All,

Thanks so much for all the kind words and especially to John McC for keeping a lid on all of this while we were waiting on the specturm to confirm the discovery.  I am particularly please that Prof.Smartt from Queen's played such an important role in this discovery.

It's been a hectic few days since CBET issued the formal telegram on Monday night. Yesterday was crazy as for some reason this really caught the attention of the media.  In case you missed here are some links;,null,230   (RTÉ 6 One news) (Press Assiciation Video) (Irish Times) (Belfast Telegraph)

So thanks to everyone here for the kind words and I hope to see you soon.

Best Wishes,


3  General Category / Astronomy & Space / NGC 2841 in Ursa Major. on: May 03, 2010, 12:51:11 am
I haven't published any pictures for quite some time. This is primarily down to spending most of my time alternating between asteroid and supernova surveys. However while rooting through some data I remembered this which I had captured but not finished.

NGC2841 is a lovely tighly wound spiral in Ursa Major. It has an integrated magnitude of +9.2. It's 42 million light years

Here's the pic (be sure to click on the image for the full size)

The image itself contains 3hours of luminance combined with 90mins each of RGB. The colour was then G2V calibrated.

Equipment was C14 @ f/5.0 (Optec Nextgen focal reducer), AP1200, SBIG ST8 and CFW9 filter wheel with Astronomik LRGB filters.

Hope you like it.
4  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Comet 2010/H2 (Vales) on: April 20, 2010, 02:30:56 pm
Chaps a very strange comet discovered by an amateur.

One of the longest mpec's in history.  A couple of strange things about this comet.  Although if was discovered at just below mag +13, Richard Kowalski of the Catalina Sky Survey reports that there was nothing on CSS plates taken of that area just a few days beforehand with a limiting magnitude of +19.0.  So This looks like a significant event happened in the intervening period to cause this flare.

Secondly there is very little evidence of coma.  In fact there was a lot of initial doubt before the discovery was announced if this even was a comet.  There was no evidence of coma on my follow up images.  However minor planets don't just jump from below mag +19 to brighter than +13 in a few days so it has to be a comet.  Who knows maybe it will flare again?  Its currently in Virgo and definitely worth a look for those with bigger scopes.

5  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Weekend Widefields on: February 17, 2010, 03:30:44 pm
Very nice shots Paul.  Love the atmosphere of the first one.  Well done!
6  General Category / Astronomy & Space / NGC 2903 in Leo on: February 17, 2010, 03:28:43 pm
Hi All,

Been a while since I managed any imaging at all.  Nice clear skies on Monday night allowed the following capture of NGC 2903 in Leo.  One of my fav galaxies, but not one I've had much luck with before;
(click on the image for the full size version)

Clear skies,

7  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Mars (30 Jan) by Carl and Dave. on: February 01, 2010, 09:45:54 pm
Thanks for the kind comments lads.  I certainly enjoyed the diversion afforded by the Mars opposition.  Nice to have something else to do around full Moon.   This was my very first ever image of Mars so hopefully,  I've found something to fill in a few hours around full moon when it always seems to be gloriously clear. 
8  General Category / Weather & Atmospherics / Tropical Storm Grace. on: October 06, 2009, 02:16:49 pm
Has anyone else noticed that this tropical storm is almost about to make landfall around Kerry right now.  Met Eireann said last night that this storm would dissapate as it merges with the atlantic low tracking across the country.  The latest sat pics seem to suggest that this is intensifying if anything.

By the look of things this storm looks like tracking right across the south of the country.  I'd say Kerry Cork and waterford look most at risk from some serious amounts of rainfall at least.
9  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: A very busy sky! on: August 19, 2009, 05:00:36 pm
Very nice photos Richard.  I concur that the first one is particularly noteworthy.  Very nice indeed.  Congrats.
10  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Asteroid (215016) Catherinegriffin = 2008 US3 on: August 17, 2009, 11:59:16 am
Hi All,

Just thought I'd post a link to a piece which appeared in this mornings Irish Times.
11  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Asteroid (215016) Catherinegriffin = 2008 US3 on: August 10, 2009, 09:59:24 pm
Thanks for all the kind words folks.  I was particularly pleased to receive a phone call of congrats from our own John McConnell.  It was a really nice gesture and much appreciated.
12  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Asteroid (215016) Catherinegriffin = 2008 US3 on: August 08, 2009, 01:18:35 pm
I'm absolutely delighted to be able to announce that my first asteroid discovery has now been officially named and numbered. You may remember that I was lucky enough to have discovered this asteroid back in October 2008. Since then with the help of other Minor Planet Observers all around the world, its orbit was tied down well enough in May for the Minor Planet Centre to give it an official number.  This allowed me to submit a naming citation to the IAU. The 'Committee for Small Body Naming' were obviously in agreement and yesterday the citation was published as follows;

The following citation is from MPC 66729:

(215016) Catherinegriffin = 2008 US3
     Catherine Grennan (née Griffin, 1939-2004) was the mother of the
discoverer.  She encouraged his interest in amateur astronomy, and this led to
the discovery of this minor planet.

As mentioned in the citation, this asteroid is named in memory of my mum.  She passed away in 2004.  It was she who gave me my first pair of binoculars to study the night sky.  When I was a kid I'd be out back just looking up at the stars instead of complaining and making my come back inside, she would bring me a hat and coat and say 'Just 15 more minutes then come inside'.
13  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Dark impact mark in Jupiters south polar region 19 July on: July 21, 2009, 02:44:14 pm
The asteroid theory has one BIG problem.  The area around Jupiter is notably devoid of asteroids because the 'big guy' has already swept them all up or ejected them to the langragian points as trojans. Don't forget that SL9 was broken on its first pass of Jupiter.  Given this there is no reason to beleive that if this indeed was a comet it was also broken on its first pass (which may or may not have also been its last).  The other piece of evidence supporting a soft body impact event is the secondary scarring which indicate substantial fallback.  A harder body would have punched much deeper and would have resulted in a more defined scar with far less secondary scarring.

Also it is almost certain that any asteroid with satellites which got this close to jupiter would have had to have made relatively close passes previously.  This would almost certainly result in the asteroid and any potential moons parting company at that stage (again tidal forces).
14  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Dark impact mark in Jupiters south polar region 19 July on: July 21, 2009, 11:59:04 am
Indeed ... but given that the impact mark is so large, by comparison with SL9 we're talking about a 1 Km +, possibly 2 Km diameter object; I think a "fresh" comet would have some sort of tail if it were out by Jupiter and should have been detected long since. Don't forget that, the more we look at even small asteroids, the more we find have small satellites.

The news media seem to be studiously avoiding reporting this event, not even a whisper on e.g. the science page on the BBC News site.

I would not be surprised one little bit if even a comet of this size went undetected.  For lots of reasons.  It is likely to be a fresh 'first timer' and may well have come from jupiter's blind side.  A 1-2k object at Jupiter's distance would be in the mag +20 range. Also I wouldn't expect too much of a tail out by Jupiter.  Also surveys would tend to avoid searching the area immediately around Jupiter meaning that the only chance for it to be detected was when it was not in the Jupiter zone and hence even further away and fainter.

I see what you mean about the news media, I suspect this is due in part to all of the unknowns which still exist.  I also heard that JPL are aware that some of us are unhappy that Anthony's part in all of this was understated by them.
15  General Category / Astronomy & Space / Re: Dark impact mark in Jupiters south polar region 19 July on: July 21, 2009, 01:33:07 am
Guys, the seeing was the worst ever here in Dublin last night so no images from last night. BTW thanks Keith for posting the times as I didn;t get the chance to do that.  Hopefully we'll get the chance to grab some decent imagery of it before it fades.

Martin:  You really didn't see the SL9 event in 1994?  Hate to rub it in but a few of us also got to spend a lovely afternoon in Sligo with the late Gene Shoemaker and his lovely wife in 1995.  (Reminder: to self must scan those slides of that day!).  I'll never forget it as long as I live.  I was helping out at an astronomy ireland event in Dublin.  I was setting up the scope, looked at jupiter and there was two big black eyes looking back at me, i'll never forget it.  They were like big panda eyes.  Definitely the highlight of my astronomical life.

Anyway back on topic.  Further news that JPL has now confirmed an impact event.

(a little dissapointed at how Anthony Wesley's contribution is played down in the above article to be honest)

Keck were looking at it today also.

What really interests me is the discussion on the nature of the impactor.  My money is on a comet.  If you look closely at Anthony's image you can see two little spots at thefour o clock position to the main spot.  This suggest to me that this was a fragmented body.  Given that the immediate around Jupiter should be pretty clear of minor planets then this all would suggest a comet or perhaps a loosly bound minor planet in a highly elliptical orbit perhaps?

Anyway thats my 2 cent.
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