November 3rd Public Lecture
"Pulsars: Physics at its most Extreme"
For our November 3rd Lecture we welcome Paul Moran who is an astronomer based at the Centre for Astronomy at NUI Galway, his research involves Pulsars that probably are the most strangest and enigmatic objects in the Universe that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. Despite over forty years of observation and theory, pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars, have defied an explanation of how they work. Pulsars are about one and a half times the mass of the Sun, but are so small they could fit into Galway Bay. Consequently they represent extreme matter. They have a magnetic field which can be greater than a million billion times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field. Their density is also about a million, billion times greater than the density of the Earth. They are formed during a massive explosion at the end of a star's life known as a Type II Supernova. During a Supernova, the light from a single star outshines its host galaxy which contains up to hundred billion stars or more.
Paul was involved in a team that made an important breakthrough in the understanding of how pulsars work,using their super computers and a reverse engineering approach, they were able to establish for the first time that most of the light from a pulsar comes from close to the star's surface. This is contrary to most pulsar models and points to a new way of analysing observational data from pulsars. The work at NUI Galway involved observations of the Crab pulsar formed in April 1054 when it was observed as a daytime star – unusually, very few observations of this event come from Europe, although it was observed by Irish monks and recorded in the Irish Annals while it was not until 1967 that Pulsars were ofically discovered by Northern Ireland Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell.
Starting from Scratch? Free Beginners Workshops
As part of our outreach program we offer a series of free monthly "Back to Basics" beginner workshops held at NUI Galway where both the public and club members can expand their knowledge and observing skills as well as meeting new people. Workshops start at 7.30pm and take place at Room 220 in the Physics Department in NUI Galway just off the main concourse. We hope to see as many as you at them and remember entry is free, Beginners are most welcome.
Public awareness of radio astronomy lags far behind that of its optical counterpart. The vague image of huge dishes pointed at the sky is perhaps the only connection that many people can make with this new and and highly technology driven science. While, most people can relate on some level to the intrigue of peering through an eyepiece at some distant object, a bump on a graph which might cause great excitement among amateur radio astronomers, does little to stir the public imagination. It is this general lack of familiarity with radio astronomy that gives birth to an array of extremely broad and often difficult to answer questions. Some of those questions will be tackled here with Tom Frawley of the Galway Radio Club on October 20th at 7.30pm.
See the International Space Station this Month
Next month represents a great chance of getting a clear view of what is the biggest man-made object ever launched into space. The International Space Station will make a series of movements over Irish skies from the 9th to the 28th of October, giving the Irish public a good number of opportunities to marvel at it. Look out for a bright moving point of light, moving roughly from west, through south, to east.
It will appear to move slowly at first as it comes above the western horizon, then appearing to move faster when it gets closest to us in the southern part of the sky, when it will be much brighter than any of the stars. A fantastic new App called "ISS Detector" can be downloaded for your Smart phone, Laptop or Tablet and is Free, easy to use and includes weather conditions, timings and a compass. To see how to use it see HERE or to view our guide to the ISS see HERE, Photo by Clint Coen, a short time lapse of the ISS over Galway Bay
Galway Astronomy Festival
Our view of the Universe has changed dramatically. Hundreds of planets of startling diversity have been discovered orbiting distant suns. Other astronomical observations have also revealed that most of the matter in the Universe is dark and invisible and that the expansion of the universe is accelerating in an unexpected and unexplained way. New missions pave the way to a better understanding of our solar system and its cosmic interlopers including comets. Recent discoveries, powerful new ways to observe the Universe, and bold new ideas to understand it have created scientific opportunities without precedent. Some of these big questions will be addresses at the 2015 Galway Astronomy Festival with a host well known amateur and academic astronomers from Ireland and the UK. Entry only €20, discounts for children, A great day out.
1 Professor Michael Perryman (UCD): co author of the "Millennium Star Atlas" and project scientist of the GAIA Space Astrometry mission. (FREE PUBLIC LECTURE)
2 Daniel (Eclipsedan) Lynch: Irish Eclipse chaser of ten international Total Solar Eclipses and his talk will serve as a prelude to the March 2015 Solar Eclipse
3 Nick Howes: Amateur astronomer at the Kielder Observatory, UK, Consultant and Science writer
4 Damien Peach: World renowned planetary imager, Damien has spent the last ten years documenting the changing face of our solar system with crystal clear images good enough to stand alongside those of the Hubble Space Telescope
5 Professor Susan McKenna Lawlor: Space Technology Ireland & NUI Maynooth, her talk will look at the Rosetta Comet mission for which her team built an instrument on its lander that will touchdown on the comet this November.
6 Dr Christopher Watson: Excellent speaker on the topic of Exoplanetary worlds from Queens University Belfast
7 Dave Grennan: Dublin based Supernova discoverer with a home built telescope
If you have any queries regarding the Club call the chairperson; Ronan Newman at 0868434003