Astronomers Archive

  • Some seven months ago, a NASA spacecraft called InSight was launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket and headed to Mars (Figure 1). If all goes well, the spacecraft will land on the Martian surface at around 8pm UK time this Monday 26th November and begin its science investigation. InSight is a fixed lander (see Figure 2 below), a much simpler affair than the Curiosity rover that arrived in 2012 and continues its trek across the floor of Gale crater to this day. Mobility, is however, not required for the specific aim of the mission. 

    Insight on InSight

    Some seven months ago, a NASA spacecraft called InSight was launched atop an Atlas 5 rocket and headed to Mars (Figure 1). If all goes well, the spacecraft will land on the Martian surface at around 8pm UK time this Monday 26th November and begin its science investigation. InSight is a fixed lander (see Figure 2 below), a much simpler affair than the Curiosity rover that arrived in 2012 and continues its trek across the floor of Gale crater to this day. Mobility, is however, not required for the specific aim of the mission. 

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  • NASA has announced the retirement of the Kepler spacecraft. After launch in March 2009, it began a continuous observation of a 115 square degree field of view (the diameter of the moon is 1/2 a degree) between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

    On the retirement of Kepler

    NASA has announced the retirement of the Kepler spacecraft. After launch in March 2009, it began a continuous observation of a 115 square degree field of view (the diameter of the moon is 1/2 a degree) between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

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  • 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?

    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?

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  • Have you ever been worried about the impact of an asteroid wiping out human life? Well, I have some disturbing news for you: there is another possibility involving the explosion of a massive star that gives rise to a gamma-ray burst (called by astronomers simply a GRB), when the star ends its life producing a black hole.

    How Iron Keeps Us Safe

    Have you ever been worried about the impact of an asteroid wiping out human life? Well, I have some disturbing news for you: there is another possibility involving the explosion of a massive star that gives rise to a gamma-ray burst (called by astronomers simply a GRB), when the star ends its life producing a black hole.

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  • Approximately every other star in the Milky Way galaxy is in a 'binary' system. These binaries are made up of two stars orbiting around a common centre of gravity. The time taken for the stars in the binary to make one revolution is called the 'orbital period'. Binaries have a wide range of orbital period. The closest stellar system to the Sun is alpha Centauri which has two stars not unlike our Sun orbiting around one another every 80 years. A third member of the system, Proxima Centauri, which is much smaller red dwarf star, orbits around these two stars once every 10,000 years.

    A new ultra-compact binary star

    Approximately every other star in the Milky Way galaxy is in a 'binary' system. These binaries are made up of two stars orbiting around a common centre of gravity. The time taken for the stars in the binary to make one revolution is called the 'orbital period'. Binaries have a wide range of orbital period. The closest stellar system to the Sun is alpha Centauri which has two stars not unlike our Sun orbiting around one another every 80 years. A third member of the system, Proxima Centauri, which is much smaller red dwarf star, orbits around these two stars once every 10,000 years.

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  • Article by Michael Burton, Director of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recently discovered organic molecules in 3 billion year old Martian rocks. This material may have […]

    The Milky Way is not low fat: grease in space

    Article by Michael Burton, Director of the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recently discovered organic molecules in 3 billion year old Martian rocks. This material may have […]

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  • Article by Jorick Vink , Astronomer at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium When you are fortunate enough to have a clear view of the night sky, and you start wondering […]

    Massive stars – what are they?

    Article by Jorick Vink , Astronomer at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium When you are fortunate enough to have a clear view of the night sky, and you start wondering […]

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  • Article by: Tom Watts In collaboration with universities in England, Australia and Thailand, the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is part of a team operating and commissioning the new Gravitational wave […]

    La Palma and GOTO

    Article by: Tom Watts In collaboration with universities in England, Australia and Thailand, the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is part of a team operating and commissioning the new Gravitational wave […]

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  •   No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before. – Professor Stephen Hawking Today, […]

    Remembering Professor Stephen Hawking

      No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before. – Professor Stephen Hawking Today, […]

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  • Article written by: Phil Hall Two weeks ago, a space-suited mannequin was strapped inside a cherry red car, the car was strapped inside a rocket, and the whole lot was […]

    Spaceflight for Dummies

    Article written by: Phil Hall Two weeks ago, a space-suited mannequin was strapped inside a cherry red car, the car was strapped inside a rocket, and the whole lot was […]

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