What’s in the Sky this December?

The long cold dark nights have well and truly settled in, and now that it’s December it’s officially acceptable to say the C word. Christmas, Christmas is coming! And so is Santa Claus! Decorations are going up, there’s mad panic to buy Christmas presents and families are organising who’s having dinner and where. Ahh I love this time of year.

Exo-Moons and Goblins

The discovery of planets orbiting around other stars has been one of humankinds greatest achievements. The existance of these ‘exo-planets’ can challenge our perception of our place in the universe. Since the first confirmed detection of a planet around another normal star (51 Peg) in 1995, many thousands of planets have been discovered. Indeed, it is likely that most stars will have their own system of planets. It is important in answering the question – is there intelligent life out there?

Hydrogen-Deficient Stars 2018 – Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

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. 

Measuring the Universe – 150th birthday of Henrietta Swan Leavitt

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.