All posts by iaaadmin

IAA  LECTURE, Wed 7th February, 7.30 p.m. Dr Laura Scott, Armagh Observatory & Planetarium: “Heavy Metal Stars”


Most stars are made of hydrogen and helium, with only tiny amounts of other elements. The ‘heavy metal stars’ are different – their atmospheres appear to be enriched in exotic heavy elements such as lead, zirconium and others. I will explain how the heavy metal stars differ from the norm, and what causes these elements to accumulate in their atmospheres.


Laua is from England and did her masters in astrophysics at the University of Birmingham, before moving to Keele to do a PhD on convection in massive stars. Now she lives in Armagh and works at the Observatory, researching stellar atmospheres.

VENUE: Larmor Lecture Theatre, Astrophysics Research Centre, Physics Building, QUB.

Admission free, including light refreshments, All welcome.

Cosmic Corner February Podcast

What’s in the Night Sky for February? Cosmic Corner is presented by Paul Evans, Sinéad Mannion, and Graham Sales. Highlights for February’s podcast include details on upcoming Irish Astronomy Week, more on, see dancing morning planets in our winter sky, Orion is still on display, Paul tells us about the Artemis slippage and find out how this week is historically a sad week for NASA. We discuss the sad demise of Ingenuity but how much it achieved going beyond its initial remit. Finally, Paul makes us super jealous of his new toy, the Seestar S50. … Keep Looking Up!… Paul, Graham & Sinéad


Apple Podcasts

IAA Lecture, Weds 13th December – Two for the price of one (Free!)

Luke Majury

 I am Luke, a PhD student researching multi-wavelength observations of solar flares under Dr. Ryan Milligan. I have recently completed my first year of PhD study following the completion of an integrated master’s degree in astrophysics at QUB. Before starting an integrated master’s degree, I developed an interest in astronomy whilst undertaking a GCSE in the subject during my spare time under the tutelage of my secondary school physics teacher. My research currently revolves around comparisons of hydrogen Lyman-alpha and hard X-ray emissions during solar flares.

Synopsis/Abstract: Solar flares are among the most powerful events in our solar system. They occur due to the release of magnetic energy in the uppermost layer of the solar atmosphere. This process accelerates particles to high energies, with these energetic particles dissipating their energy via Coulomb collisions, resulting in a burst of electromagnetic radiation which we observe as a flare. Solar flares have been observed as early as 1859 during the Carrington event, since then great advances have been made in our understanding of flares via both observational and theoretical work. As we approach the peak of solar cycle 25 flares will become more frequent, allowing for abundant observations to be made with state-of-the-art observatories such as Solar Orbiter, Solar-C and the Advanced Space-Based Solar Observatory.

Thomas Moore

Title: Fast! Slow? Bright or Faint‽: exploring the diversity of supernovae

With the advent of large-scale robotic sky surveys, the number of supernovae we discover has ’exploded’. In this talk I will discuss what supernovae are, some of the history of their discovery and their incredible diversity.

I will also discuss the discovery, follow-up, and periodic signals of SN 2022jli – the most exciting supernova of the decade? (although I am biased).


Thomas is a final year astrophysics PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast where he obtained an MSci in Physics with Astrophysics in 2021. His research focuses on observation and modelling of supernovae discovered by the ATLAS all-sky survey and spectroscopic observations using the ESO New Technology Telescope.  

Venue: Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics building, Queen’s University Belfast, 7.30 p.m.

Admission free, including light refreshments. All welcome.

IAA Lecture, Weds 29th November – Dr. Jean Costes (QUB)

Title: Toward the discovery and characterisation of Earth-like planets

Abstract: More than 25 years after the first discovery of an exoplanet around a main-sequence star, more than 5000 exoplanets have been detected and confirmed.

These new discoveries have shown us the great diversity of exoplanets present in our galaxy. In the next decade, one of the major scientific challenges will be the discovery of habitable Earth-like worlds.

 For example, the next European Space Agency mission PLATO (due to launch in 2026) is specifically tasked with finding Earth-analogue transiting planets. After describing basic concepts on the discovery of exoplanets, I’ll present during this talk some of the latest updates on the detection and characterisation of exoplanets. My focus will be on the remaining challenges that we are facing in order to detect our Earth 2.0.

Biography: I’m Jean Costes, a Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast.

I’m mainly working on the detection of exoplanets, focusing on the mitigation of stellar activity. As part of the HiRISE core team (a new instrument that we installed last summer at ESO Paranal in Chile)

I’m also looking into exoplanet atmospheres. 

Venue: Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics building, Queen’s University Belfast, 7.30 p.m.

Admission free, including light refreshments. All welcome.

IAA PUBLIC LECTURE, Wed 15 November, “Living with a (Active) Star”, by Dr Elizabeth Butler, ARC, QUB

Synopsis: Space weather is a very complex field, involving many different subject areas, that as a community we are still working to grasp. This talk will discuss what some current points of concern are, and the science and missions being directed at them. 

Biography: Elizabeth Butler grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, hating physics. She wanted to write novels about dragons instead. Something shifted in high school – enough that she graduated from Northern Michigan University with a double bachelors in physics and writing.

After taking a gap year to drive mowers and utility carts around 32 miles of hiking trails while composing poetry in her head, she was accepted as a graduate student by the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Department of the University of Colorado in Boulder. There, she fell in love with planetariums, solar physics, and the developing field of space weather, and later used all three to become a Fellow in the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research program.

After weathering two wildfire evacuation notices, a mass shooting, and a global pandemic, she graduated with her PhD in 2022, defending a dissertation that was two thirds solar flare physics and one third human subjects work on bridging the space weather research and forecasting communities.

She then accepted the opportunity to move across the pond to work at Queen’s Astrophysics Research Centre, where she has only received one of the seven visits threatened by friends and family. “

IAA PUBLIC LECTURE, Wed 1 November, Apollo to Artemis – The Next Giant Leap, by Paul Evans


In 1961 President Kennedy set NASA the goal of landing a Man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth by the end of the decade. This goal was achieved by Apollo 11 in July 1969 and further Moon missions followed until the program ended in 1972. The US presence in space changed focus to the Space Shuttle which ran from 1981 until it was ended in 2011.
In the 1990s the idea of returning to the Moon began to gain traction and in the 2000s the Constellation Program took shape with the design of the Orion capsule and the Ares rockets, however this program was cancelled after only one test launch.

 The program returned as Artemis in the mid-2010s and the first Mission – unmanned- took place in 2022 and was successful. Further mission will follow, this time crewed. 

This talk will look back at the Apollo history and the intermediate steps and will then focus on the upcoming next steps in the Artemis program giving a guide to what to expect in coming years.


Paul was a schoolboy in the 1960s and had some interest in Space. In 1968, with the Apollo 8 crewed Moon mission, this interest really lifted off, boosted by a Christmas present of  Patrick Moore’s “Oberservers’ guide to Astronomy” which began his lifelong interest in all things space.

Paul has lived in NI since 2003 and is currently in his sixth non-consecutive year as IAA President and has also been Chair of IFAS where he is currently Vice-Chair.

He lives on the Antrim Coast with wife Jude and cat Ollie and during the day he keeps the TV and Radio on air.

Venue: Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics building, Queen’s University Belfast, 7.30 p.m.

Admission free, including light refreshments. All welcome.

 IAA PUBLIC LECTURE, Wed, 18 October, by Richard Goodrich

Fear and Loathing in the Heavens: The 1910 Return of Halley’s Comet”

SYNOPSIS: In 1705, Edmond Halley liberated humanity from the belief that comets were portents of doom; two centuries later, in 1910, as Halley’s Comet returned to perihelion, newspapers and magazines, religious leaders, misguided theorists, and shameless grifters managed to rekindle that fear. When astronomers announced that the earth would pass through the comet’s tail, opportunists exploited human anxiety—often with fatal consequences.

  Richard Goodrich, author of Comet Madness: How the 1910 Return of Halley’s Comet (almost) Destroyed Civilization, will give us an entertaining lecture about the comet’s 1910 return and the reasons that many believed the earth would not survive the encounter.


Richard J. Goodrich (Ph.D., University of St Andrews) is an author and historian. After twenty years teaching in British and US universities, Richard resigned his position to pursue a full-time writing career. His interests range from Ancient History (the Roman Empire and early Church history) to the modern age. Comet Madness, Richard’s first foray into popular history is available from Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith, and other fine bookstores. Learn more about Richard and his work at his website:

Larmor Lecture Theatre, Physics building, Queen’s University Belfast, 7.30 p.m.

Admission free, including light refreshments. All welcome.