October is here! It is one of our favourite months as there is so much more to see in the sky and the nights are getting deliciously darker. One thing to remember when you are stargazing is to wrap up warm when you venture outside. The nights are getting much colder, and with some of the best stargazing occurring in the early hours of the morning, we don’t want anyone catching a chill. Thermals and a thermos filled with hot chocolate or coffee will do the trick. Also don’t forget that we will be starting our Star Tracker evenings in the coming months!
Have you ever been worried about the impact of an asteroid wiping out human life? Well, I have some disturbing news for you: there is another possibility involving the explosion of a massive star that gives rise to a gamma-ray burst (called by astronomers simply a GRB), when the star ends its life producing a black hole.
September 2018 will see over 50 astronomers from around the world gather at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium to discuss the latest news about hydrogen-deficient stars. These stars have lost nearly all the hydrogen from which they were made, to leave only nuclear ash. Astronomers want to learn how these rare and short-lived remnants formed, and what drives their spectacular changes in brightness.
July 4, 2018 saw the 150th birthday of Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 – 1921), one of the most important astronomers of the 20th century. Born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, Leavitt graduated from Radfcliffe College, Harvard, in 1892. She then stayed on at the Harvard College Observatory as a volunteer research assistant. Whilst attempting a graduate degree in astronomy and travelling in Europe, she became ill with grave consequences for her hearing. In 1902, then director, Edward Pickering, invited Henrietta to join the permanent staff at Harvard, where she was assigned to study “variable” stars.
The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium are holding a special event to mark the lunar eclipse, coming at almost the same time as the opposition of Mars. The event has proved so popular that tickets sold out within a couple of hours of being released, so we have written this blog entry to tell you about what will happen if you missed out on obtaining a ticket or are going to try to observe the eclipse from elsewhere.
Space is always changing. New things are discovered frequently, and the latest discovery was made inside our own solar system. Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, now has a staggering 79 moons in its orbit. Compare this to Earth’s lonely, singular moon and this shows you just how monstrous the gas giant planet is in size.
This article has been inspired by the many questions we get asked here at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium. We love being asked questions but we thought it would be funny to have a look at the questions you really should never ask an Astronomer. We hope this gives you a bit of a laugh!
Approximately every other star in the Milky Way galaxy is in a ‘binary’ system. These binaries are made up of two stars orbiting around a common centre of gravity. The time taken for the stars in the binary to make one revolution is called the ‘orbital period’. Binaries have a wide range of orbital period. The closest stellar system to the Sun is alpha Centauri which has two stars not unlike our Sun orbiting around one another every 80 years. A third member of the system, Proxima Centauri, which is much smaller red dwarf star, orbits around these two stars once every 10,000 years.
Article by Michael Burton, Director of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recently discovered organic molecules in 3 billion year old Martian rocks. This material may have been delivered by meteorites and comets to the young planet. Deep space is full of organic matter. Organic matter contains Read more…
Article by Jorick Vink , Astronomer at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium When you are fortunate enough to have a clear view of the night sky, and you start wondering about the properties of all these sources of light, you might be amazed to find out all these stars have Read more…