Sunspot AR1944 caused something of a stir in early January as it unleashed the most promising Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) of the current season toward Earth just in time for our Stargazing Live evening! Sadly, it missed and we didn't get the Northern lights that evening. The sunspot lived on however and reappeared as AR1967 and incredibly returned again as AR1990. Just as it appeared around the limb it let go with an X4.2 flare - huge but not Earth directed, we were only expecting a glancing blow. But the Earth's magnetic field was very favourable, and we got a good display - even the weather was good!
To celebrate the first anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteorite fall in Russia, the Ulster Museum are holding a Meteorite Day from 13:00 to 16:30 on Saturday 15th February - details here....
Members of the IAA will on hand to answer any telescope queries and there may be Solar Observing if the sky is clear!
Prof. Gerry Gilmore will give the Michael West Spring 2014 lecture on "GAIA mission and the origin of the Milky Way".
Please note the following:-
This lecture will take place in the Larmor Theatre accessed by the West side of the Physics Dept towards the Whitla Hall
A change of venue for this event - to The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra. Running from 5pm-10pm, this evening includes a full range of events - see the night sky through telescopes guided by expert members of the IAA, Stardome shows provided by the IAA and Armagh Planetarium, ask questions of professional astronomers from QUB, comet making and activities by W5 and others!
The full programme of events is available as a PDF download here....http://documents.irishastro.org.uk/sgl2014.pdf
Supernovae are just about the biggest explosions in the universe, and certainly the biggest that we are ever likely to see. Not only that, but they create all the elements above iron in the periodic table, many of which, such as nickel, zinc, selenium, and iodine, are essential for human life. They are also the key element in the 'distance ladder' used in large scale astrophysics and cosmology, as they are used to measure the distance to distant galaxies and galaxy clusters.