Article written by: Heather Alexander, Education Officer

Here we are, on the count down to Christmas, and we’re having a look at all the Astronotes that have been written for our blog this year. We’ve had input not just from the Education Team this year, but also the Academic Staff of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium. Our resident Astronomers and students have given us so many brilliant blogs, and we can’t wait for 2019 to read more!

Rendition of gravitational waves emitted by the death spiral of two compact stars. Credit: NASA


Astronotes will be taking a short break over the holiday season, but we will be back in 2019 to cater to your every astronomical need. Who knows, you may be seeing us deliver our blog content in new and different ways, so watch this space. Here is a list of all of our favourite blog articles from this epic year of astronomy!


  1. Planetary Exploration in 2018 – This blog was written by resident astronomer Apostolos Christou, who provided many more fascinating blogs throughout 2018. This particular article was a great way to start the year with a look into what planetary exploration would be occurring throughout the year. He covered everything from InSight to Chang’e. Click on the blog title to read more.
  2. Celebrating the Planetarium’s 50th Anniversary: Lindsay’s Great Legacy – If you hadn’t heard, the Planetarium celebrated its 50th Anniversary this year, and what a celebration it was! In February, as we were gearing up for the big day in May, our Director, Professor Michael Burton, wrote down the legacy that his predecessor Eric Lindsay left by creating our wonderful Planetarium. Clink on the blog title to read more.
  3. Remembering Professor Stephen Hawking – In March the world lost one of the greatest mind’s it has seen since Albert Einstein. Professor Stephen Hawking sadly passed away, but he will never be forgotten. Heather Alexander, Education Officer, wrote down our words in a blog of remembrance. Click on the blog title to read more.
  4. Hubble Space Telescope 2018 – We can’t deny how much we love the Hubble Space Telescope here at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and in April, PhD Student, Holly Preece, wrote down her thoughts on the HST and reviewed some its most famous observations.
  5. Massive Stars, What are they? – We jump on to June and Professor Jorick Vink wrote a brilliant article asking the question of “What are Massive Stars?” Jorick is well known for being an expert in this field as was able to give us an insight into his research. Click on the blog title to read more.
  6. Jupiter’s Moons get an Update – The summer started with a bang in the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium when Jupiter got an update. The gas giant went from having only 67 moons, to having a staggering 79! Heather Alexander had a look into this and how these extra moons were discovered. Click on the blog title to read more.
  7. Dark Moon Rising: The Total Lunar Eclipse of 27th July 2018 – July also had a total Lunar Eclipse and Emeritus Director of the Armagh Observatory, Professor Mark Bailey, gave his insight into what to expect for this occurrence, how often it happens and what causes a lunar eclipse. Did anyone get to see it? Click on the blog title to read more.
  8. Hydrogen-Deficient Stars 2018, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium – The Summer also had us getting prepped and ready for our big Hydrogen Deficient Stars Conference in September. In advance of this in August, conference organiser Professor Simon Jeffrey, gave us his insight to what Hydrogen-Deficient Stars really are and what would be discussed at the 4th HDEF Conference. Click on the blog title to read more.
  9. 10 Things we used to Believe about Space – September was a busy month for us with the amazing HDEF Conference, but Heather Alexander had a look into what we used to believe about Space! Over the course of history our ideas have changed quite rapidly! Click on the blog title to read more.
  10. European Planetary Science Congress 2018, An Interview with Rok Nezic – Our astronomers and PhD Students get to attend lots of amazing conferences and seminars throughout the year and in October, Heather interviewed Rok Nezic about his experience attending and presenting at the European Planetary Science Congress. We can honestly say we were so jealous of the amount of fun he had! Click on the blog title to read more.
  11. On the Retirement of Kepler – Professor Gavin Ramsay gave us his insight into the retirement of the Kepler Spacecraft in November. Our astronomers and students have been using the data obtained by the Kepler spacecraft in their research and Gavin told us just how important that is to the organisation. Click on the blog title to read more.
  12. 5 Theories and Conspiracies Debunked – We get our fair share of conspiracy theorists attending the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and we love chatting with them all and having a good old fashioned debate! PhD Student Tom Watts gave us this fascinating blog that debunks the top 5 conspiracies and theories we talk about on a daily basis. Click on the blog title to read more.

The International Space Station as seen in transit across the moon. Credit: Yanina Metodiva


So there you have it, our top 12 blog articles of 2018. As you can see we have covered quite the range of topics and we hope to continue this into 2019. We have a lot of Anniversaries coming our way in the New Year, in particular the 50th Anniversary of the Bovedy Meteorite in April and the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 in July. Just to wrap up our year don’t forget to check out the blog article below on the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8:

  1. Apollo 8 and the First humans to the Moon, 50 Years On – Professor Michael Burton gives us his insight into the Apollo 8 mission, the first mission to successfully take humans to the Moon. These Astronauts didn’t land on the moon however and so are often overshadowed by the Apollo 11 mission, but still this is a wonderful first in our human history and not something that should be forgotten. Click on the blog title to read more.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and we hope you have a wonderful New Year. Here’s to 2019, we will see you then!