Science this week – supernova!

Supernova in the Cigar Galaxy

As you might have seen, the BBC reported that a supernova – that is, an exploding star – had been observed in M82, the Cigar Galaxy.  Astronomers from all our local astronomical societies have been observing it, although in my opinion, it looks better in photos!  One thing to remember is that the Cigar Galaxy is a very, very long way away… and so that star actually exploded 12 million years ago.  On Earth, this is in the middle of the Miocene epoch, which saw the rise of the apes – a very long time ago indeed!  One thing that everyone should remember is that when you look out into space, you’re looking back in time: you see the sun as it was 8 minutes ago, Proxima Centauri (our second nearest star) as it was 4 years ago. And the Pleiades?  Almost 400 years ago.  A journey through history, just by looking up!

A close encounter of the laval kind…

Bryan Lowry, a native American and Hawaii resident, lives fairly close to an active volcano.  So close, in fact, that he likes taking videos of it.  In this video, he places a can of cola in the path of some extremely hot (although not as hot as a supernova!) lava, and watched what happened…

Radioactivity Workshops

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, signups for my radioactivity workshops are now open. To sign up, please click the link!

Durham University AstroSoc host Chris Lintott

On Tuesday 4th February (a week today), Durham University Astronomical Society will be hosting a talk by Dr. Chris Lintott from the University of Oxford and presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night programme! (You may have also seen him recently on Stargazing Live, talking about his latest citizen science project.).  The talk will take place at 7pm in PH8 (Durham University Physics Department).  There will be refreshments available from 6:30pm prior to the talk, and the event is open and free to all.

Chris will be answering the question, “is the Milky Way special?”

“As we have come to understand the galaxies which surround us, so our perspectives on our own home system, the Milky Way, have shifted. Using recent results from surveys of our cosmic neighbourhood, this talk asks whether there is anything unusual about our home.”

And finally, one for those interested in Professional Development

Justifiably, I mention a lot about the tutoring and learning side of Educational Services in my “Science this Week” posts, however, I know there are a few industry professionals (and those from the IOP!) who read my posts… so this is an event for you!

On the first Tuesday of every month, the North East Technology Park (NETPark), Sedgefield host a “Breakfast Briefing” session at the Incubator.  The sessions start at 8am with coffee and a bacon sandwich (free for NETPark NET members), and finish at 9.30am.  The topics are generally business oriented and  very varied.  This month’s will take place on the 4th February, and is entitled “how good design can help your business succeed”, and will be given by speaker Lawrie Cunningham. No prior knowledge is assumed, and all are welcomed! Places can be booked via

Keep an eye out in future weeks for more details of my upcoming CPD opportunities!