NUI Galway Host Christmas Talk on Long-Haired Stars

Dec 11 2013 Posted: 13:00 GMT

NUI Galway’s Astronomy Society, with the Galway Astronomy Club, will welcome Astronomer Dr Jacqueline Keane for a special Christmas talk entitled ‘2013: The Year of the Long-haired Stars’. The free talk will take place on Tuesday, 17 December at 7.30pm in IT 250, IT Building, NUI Galway.

In ancient times, comets or “long-haired stars” inspired terror because of their sudden appearance, potentially great brightness, and large tails. Comets, long considered harbingers of doom, have been blamed for some of history's darkest times. About once a decade, a truly spectacular comet is visible even through the bright city lights.

This public talk will discuss what comets are and how comets help us understand the formation of the Solar System. A summary of the Comet ISON observing campaign will be presented, with a special focus on the University of Hawaii campaign using numerous 10-meter telescopes at 14000 feet on the summit of Mauna Kea. The prospects of viewing comets in 2014 will also be discussed.

Dr Jacqueline Keane is an Assistant Astronomer at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. An NUI Galway BSc in Physics and Masters in Astronomy graduate, Dr Keane received her PhD in Astrophysics from Groningen University in the Netherlands, where she worked with the Infrared Space Observatory observations of interstellar ice features and their formation via grain-surface reactions. After her PhD, she moved to California to work at the NASA Ames Research Center where her work concentrated on understanding the composition of cold material in star-forming molecular clouds using the Spitzer space-based telescope. Dr Keane currently specialises in ground-based observations of comets and how they can be used to understand the conditions in the early Solar System.

The NUI Galway Astronomy society is in its second year with nearly 600 members. The main goal of the society is to promote astronomy, both recreationally and academically. Throughout the year the society hosts a series of talks on astronomy and organise events to increase general awareness and understanding of astronomy and host a series of talks on astronomy and events throughout the year. They work with the Galway Astronomy club and are supported by the University's Centre for Astronomy.

For more information on NUI Galway’s Astronomy Society and Galway Astronomy Club visit or


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