December Night Sky 2020

So the nights are drawing in and in as we get closer to the festive season, and though Christmas might not be quite the same as usual this year, there’s still plenty to celebrate. One great socially distanced activity you can do is stargazing! It’s outdoors and doesn’t require a group, and so you can easily go out and have a wee look up at the stars – just make sure to wrap up warm at this time of year!

2019: A Chinese Year of the Moon

The rapidly-approaching 2019 will let us mark a half-century since human beings took the first steps on a body other than the Earth, namely our own Moon. But, come the New Year, lunar exploration is likely to make the headlines for one other reason: a number of robotic spacecraft built by three different nations will attempt to repeat the feat accomplished by the Apollo programme and land on the Moon’s surface.

Insight on InSight

Some seven months ago, a NASA spacecraft called InSight was launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket and headed to Mars (Figure 1). If all goes well, the spacecraft will land on the Martian surface at around 8pm UK time this Monday 26th November and begin its science investigation. InSight is a fixed lander (see Figure 2 below), a much simpler affair than the Curiosity rover that arrived in 2012 and continues its trek across the floor of Gale crater to this day. Mobility, is however, not required for the specific aim of the mission. 

Dark Moon Rising: the total lunar eclipse of 27 July, 2018

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.

Sir Patrick Moore and the First Man on the Moon – 49 years on

July 20 1969 saw, arguably, the most famous event in all of human history when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon and left his footprints there – a mark still indelibly framed in the lunar dust today, some 49 years later.  It may seem almost as incredible that it is indeed nearly half a century ago that this epochal event occurred, one that united all of humanity for a short while, as we stared at that yellow orb in our night skies to know that one of our species was walking on it surface.