Category Archives: Event

Cosmic Corner Podcast Episode 7

What’s in the Night Sky for March?

Cosmic Corner is presented by Paul Evans, Sinéad Mannion, and Graham Sales. Highlights for March’s podcast include details on upcoming Irish Astronomy Week, more on, and Midlands Astronomy event Cosmos, see

Solar Cycle 25 is very active so be on the lookout for Aurora, Paul will tell you the best times and websites to use. March skies make for a possible Mercury sighting, a rarity even for the most experienced astronomer and Graham updates us on the Japanese lunar lander, Slim …

Keep Looking Up!… Paul, Graham & Sinéad

Apple Podcasts…/cosmic-corner/id1705184817…


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 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.

 IAA Lecture &  AGM, Wed 12th April, 7.30 p.m, LARMOR LECTURE THEATRE, Physics Building, QUB,

To start off, we’ll have a short lecture by Fraser Gillan  “Comets: Icy Messengers from the Edge of the Solar System”

We will explore the fascinating world of Jupiter Family Comets, a sub-group of short-period comets that originate from the Kuiper Belt region of the Solar System and have an orbital period of less than 20 years. These frequent visitors to the inner Solar System have orbits that are heavily influenced by Jupiter and undergo regular sublimation as they travel through the inner Solar System. By using large scale all-sky survey systems like the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), we can monitor the behaviour of a large amount of these comets throughout a significant fraction of their orbit. In this talk, I will give a brief overview on comets before focusing on Jupiter Family Comets and discussing the dust production that we have studied.


Fraser completed his BSc in Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire in 2019 where his undergraduate research project focused on calculating the orbits and properties of near-Earth asteroids using data from the MHT at the Alston Observatory. Building on his interest of small Solar System bodies, Fraser completed his Masters (by Research) in Astrophysics in 2020 also at the University of Central Lancashire. This work focused on the design and implementation of an automatic detection system to search for Solar System objects in data from NASA’s STEREO mission. Fraser then started his PhD at Queens’s University Belfast in October 2021 working with Prof. Alan Fitzsimmons in the Solar System group investigating the dust production rates in Jupiter Family Comets.
AGM: This will be followed by the AGM,- the usual business matters

ADMISSION FREE, including light refreshments – All welcome!

IAA Lecture Weds 29th March 19:30 BST – Prof Simon Jeffery, AOP.

” SALT and the super-hot zombie stars.”


We are using the Southern African Large Telescope to carry out a survey of chemically-peculiar hot subdwarfs. Several of the stars observed could not be classified as conventional hot subdwarfs. Eight of these turned out to be extremely hot stars  with surface temperatures between 110,000 K and 180,000 K. One is a white dwarf, the remainder are pre-white dwarfs; that is they are contracting towards the hot end of the white dwarf sequence.

Follow-up photometry showed that two are pulsating GW Vir stars. One is the central star of a previously unknown planetary nebula (JeWeKi 1). Four are record-breakers: the hottest DO white dwarf, the two hottest GW Vir stars, and thehottest `naked’ O(H) star.

My talk will describe the background to the survey, the observations being carried out with SALT and the new discoveries. It will attempt to explain how these stars fit into the big picture of how stars approach their final fate and how some are – indeed – dead stars reborn. 

BIO: Simon Jeffery

Simon’s astronomical life started at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, and has taken him via a Physics degree at Imperial College, London, to St Andrews, Scotland and Kiel, Germany, before finally moving to the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium in Northern Ireland, where he works as a senior research astronomer. He has held positions as adjunct Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin and a Visiting Byfellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge. He is a past president of IAU Commission G4 on Pulsating Stars and is currently president of IAU Commission G5 on Stellar and Planetary Atmospheres.

Pursuing a lifelong interest in how stars work and how they vary over time, Simon’s PhD in theoretical stellar structure and evolution was followed by observational and theoretical work on stellar pulsations and atmospheres. Most stars never fully exhaust their initial hydrogen store, but retain a hydrogen surface to the very end. However, in rare and extreme cases, some stars become true ‘helium’ stars. Simon’s goal is to demonstrate their elusive origins. The surprising conclusion is that the great majority appear to have formed from the merger of two very old and faint stars … a double white dwarf. His favourite is the pulsating V652 Herculis — the ‘born-again rocket star’.

Simon would like to spend more time dinghy racing, sings baritone, and hunts wild life and seascapes with a camera.

 IAA Lecture, Wed 15th March, 7.30 p.m, LARMOR LECTURE THEATRE, Physics Building, QUB

“Diving Deeper into the Radio Sky” – Solar, Stellar and Galactic Astronomy with the LOw Frequency ARray, by Jeremy Rigney, DIAS & AOP.

Synopsis: Radio astronomy has developed at an ever-accelerating rate in the past decade. With the construction of the Low Frequency Array, the largest and most sensitive low frequency radio telescope in the world, a new window into the universe has been opened. This has revealed jets from distant galaxies, new stars, and massive bursts from our Sun in higher detail than ever before.

Ireland plays a large role in the LOFAR consortium, providing the most westerly station for the telescope array and further improving its sensitivity and resolution. I will talk about the science being achieved with I-LOFAR since its construction in 2017, and my own research on other stars within our galaxy and the search for other planets with the potential to host life.

Jeremy Rigney is a Lindsay PhD Scholar at DIAS & Armagh Observatory, linked with QUB.

Jeremy graduated from University College Dublin with a degree in Physics with Astronomy and Space Science. He is currently the Eric Lindsay Phd Scholar based jointly between the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and Armagh Observatory. He is registered as a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast. Jeremy’s research focuses on simultaneous optical and radio signatures of dwarf stars to examine the potential impact on orbiting exoplanets. He also observes the sun at radio wavelengths to compare its emission to other stars.

ADMISSION FREE, including light refreshments – All welcome!

Rocket launching at Lough Neagh Saturday25th February

Note you can bring your own bottles and make a Rocket at this event on Saturday PM from 15:30 onwards. Also see the Sky in our Stardome and hopefull see the Moon, Stars and Planets in the real sky if the weather plays ball!

   “Bring your own 2-litre fizzy drinks plastic bottle to make into an amazing rocket, and we’ll have some of our own if you can’t. NB – they must be for carbonated, ie fizzy drinks, to withstand the pressure of the compressed air!

   You can also make your own rocket in advance and bring it along: it must be a ‘fizzy drinks’ bottle as above. The following link gives an idea of what it should look like. Ignore any other websites or videos that mention a cork – we’ll use a different system. All you need to do is fit 3 or 4 stabilising cardboard ‘fins’ at the NECK end of the bottle, and a streamlining nose cone over the BASE of the bottle – it will be launched upside down! It also helps if you fit a small weight (about 50 – 100gm) securely to the centre of the outside of the base of the bottle, before fitting the nose cone

Water Rockets ( Ignore the ‘plume’, and everything below that – we supply the launch equipment.”