Lecture - Weds 1st March - Dr Katja Poppenhaeger (QUB) - "Exotic worlds: planets in other solar systems and what they might look like"

Dr Katja Poppenhaeger

Dr Poppenhaeger will talk about how astronomers discover planets in other solar systems, and show a few of the most breathtaking scenarios for what those planets may look like. What would life be like on a habitable world around a tiny red sun? Could a moon around a giant planet be habitable? What would happen if an Earth-like planet were just a tiny bit closer to its sun than we are to ours? She will give a glimpse into the science behind these questions, and show which stars out there actually have possibly habitable worlds around them. There will be ample opportunity for asking questions after the talk.

Weds 22nd Feb 6:30pm - "Exploring the Red Planet - Adventures of the Curiosity Rover" by Professor Sanjeev Gupta, Imperial College, London.

Prof Sanjeev Gupta
"Since the first flyby in 1965 Mars has been extensively explored by orbiters, landers and rovers and today we know a great deal about the planet's surface, atmosphere and geological history.  This lecture will focus on the results from the most recent NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission - the 'Curiosity' Rover Mission.  It will also look forward to the upcoming European mission."    

Lecture Weds 15th Feb - Dr Michele Bannister, QUB "Icy Wonders of the Outer Solar System"

Dr Michele Bannister
Recent discoveries are revealing intricate structure in the populations of tiny icy worlds that orbit far beyond Neptune. Surveys with some of the world’s largest telescopes are mapping the depths of this vast region. With the >800 discoveries from the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, we are writing the history of how our Solar System was sculpted into shape by the migration of Neptune and the other giant planets. I’ll also discuss the few known extreme orbits in this region, and whether they hint at the elusive presence of a distant giant Planet Nine.

ISS Lunar Transit Photographed from Sprucefield

IAA President Paul Evans has successfully imaged a transit of the International Space Station (ISS) from Northern Ireland. Using information provided by the website Calsky.org, Paul determined that Sprucefield near Lisburn would be on the centreline of the transit which would take place after the ISS had passed Venus and Mars and moved into Earth's shadow. It so happened that the sky was clear if slightly hazy so an attempt was made. Paul used his Celestron ED 80 telescope with Lumix G7 camera at prime focus in 4K video mode, taking 25 8 megapixel images every second.

Lecture Weds 1st Feb: 'All Craters Great and Small' , by Dr Mike Simms, Ulster Museum

Dr Mike Simms
Fewer then 200 impact craters are currently known on Earth but others must lie hidden beneath younger rocks. At Meteor Crater, in Arizona, the classic example of an impact crater, Mike will explain how careful detective work over many decades led to the realisation, firstly, that all is not what it seems, and ultimately gave rise to an understanding of some of the Meteor Crater enigmas.

Lecture 18th January - Dr Kate Maguire, QUB, "Cosmic Lighthouses: Supernovae and the Dark Universe"

Dr Kate Maguire
Supernovae mark the explosive deaths of some stars at the end of their lives. These incredibly bright explosions can be seen to great distances in the Universe. Supernovae were essential to the unexpected discovery that the expansion rate of the Universe is accelerating, invoking the presence of the mysterious and unexplained quantity, dark energy. I will describe what we know (and don’t know) about these stellar explosions, and how future transient surveys plan to use them to uncover the nature of dark energy.