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Upcoming Events

  • 22nd Jul - Public Astronomy Lecture at QUB - details below
  • 3rd Aug - Public Astronomy Lecture at QUB - details below
  • 12th/13th Aug - Perseid Meteor shower - details TBA
  • 14th Aug - Solar Day at Castle Espie


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Noctilucent Cloud Season gets into its stride!

Dr Andy McCrea, Past President of the IAA and current Editor of Sturdust magazine got a result on Saturday Night, 2nd July! The best Noctilucent Cloud (NLC) display of the current season appeared in the northern sky around 2am.

These clouds are called Noctilucent, or "Night Shining" as they appear a luminous electric blue colour in the night sky. In fact they are thin and very high clouds - 50-55 miles above the Earth's surface - which are illuminated by the Sun's light shining over the North Pole.

See more of Andy's shots in the gallery here....


Last Space Shuttle mission

The last Shuttle mission - STS 135 to the International Space Station - will launch, all being well, on Friday July 8th.

The 12-day STS-135 mission will be the final journey of a Shuttle into space, carrying a crew of four astronauts and more than 3.5 tonnes of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) and testing a robotic refuelling system.

STS-135 will be the 135th Shuttle flight, bringing the project to an end, more than 30 years after the first flight of Columbia in 1981. The astronauts on this final flight are Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim. Only 4 astronauts can be safely carried on this mission, in case the Shuttle is damaged, and they have to return in one of the much smaller Russian craft.

Projected launch time is 11:26am EDT which is 4:26pm in the UK and Ireland. Among the various items being taken into space for the first time is an Apple iPhone!


Talks at QUB in association with the IAA


This summer will see the first in a series of public lectures at Queen's University where the sky is not the limit. Everyone is invited to hear how astronomers discover monstrous black holes and dangerous asteroids, from international scientists who are leading the work.

The Michael West Public Lectures in astronomy will be held each year to explain some of the latest and most exciting discoveries in the world of Astronomy. They are named after Dr. Michael West, who is supporting scientific research and public outreach in the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queens.

The first talk on "SuperMassive Black Holes" will be held on Friday 22nd July in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. It will be given byProfessor Reinhard Genzel, Director of the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Professor Genzel is an international expert on investigating black holes that weigh millions of times more than our Sun. In 2008 he won the prestigious Shaw Prize for establishing the existence of a huge Black Hole in the centre of our own Milky Way.

The second talk on "Killer Asteroids" will be given on Wednesday 3rd August by Dr. Robert Jedicke from the University of Hawaii. Dr. Jedicke is a renowned asteroid hunter, and is leading the search for dangerous asteroids with the new PanSTARRS1 telescope in Hawaii. "This telescope in one of a kind, and is allowing us to discover everything from nearby asteroids to exploding stars in the most distant galaxies" said Professor Stephen Smartt, director of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen's.

Both talks will take place in the Larmor Lecture Theatre in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Queen's. Attendance at the talks is free of charge, but seats must be booked either by phone at 028 9097 3202, or by visiting the website http://tinyurl.com/MichaelWestLecture Series and registering there.

These talks have been organised by the Astrophysics Research Centre at QUB, in association with the Irish Astronomical Association.

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