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Public Lecture

Sungrazing Comets - Falling Into Hell

by Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, Queens University Belfast.

February 13th 2017
Venue: Physics Building Trinity College Dublin

We are extremely honoured to be hosting our February lecture with Prof. Alan Fitzsimmons, QUB. Prof. Fitzsimmons is a world class speaker who is a regular  on every National Geographic, Discovery Channel, & BBC documentary about Comets.  We are absolutely delighted that he has agreed to give us a Public Lecture and we urge you all to see why he is in such demand with the world's best documentary makers.

Book Tickets February 2017
Lecture DVD February 2017
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Our contact number is 086 06 46 555 during office hours. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused should you have any difficulties.

About the Lecture

Many people are familiar with the idea of comets being icy visitors from the outer Solar system. The Sun's heat allows the releases of gas and dust from the comet, forming the coma and tails which look so impressive in images. Many comets either orbit the Sun regularly,  or go around the Sun once never to return in a single lifetime (if at all).  But most comets are in fact spotted on kamikaze dives towards the very edge of the Sun, to be vaporised in a final blaze of glory. This talk will explain how these comets are discovered, how we are starting to understand their nature, and what happens to them as they fall into their personal hells.


About the Lecturer

I am an astronomer in the QUB Astrophysics Research Centre  and a member of the Solar System Group . My primary research interests are in performing observations of minor bodies in our solar system, comets and asteroids. These studies are generally based on observations performed on the UK supported telescopes in the Canary Islands ( ING ) and Chile ( ESO ), although for the past few years I've been looking at the firehose of data from Pan-STARRS 1 . For an idea of what these telescopes look like, here's a picture of me standing nervously under the ESO Very Large Telescope .

My official University stats page is here , but in summary I am a currently a member of the following  current projects:

  • UK Pan-STARRS Science Consortium - finding lots of NEOs, asteroids and comets
  • UK LSST Consortium - we will find lots of NEOs and other stuff
  • NEOShield-2 Project - proposing how to move an asteroid, you know, just in case...
  • The Rosetta ground-based observations  team - following Rosetta and comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko all around the Sun
  • ISSI Near-Sun Comet Team -what are the properties of Sungrazing and Sunskirting comets, and how do they interact with the solar corona?
  • ISSI Main-Belt Comet Team -ices in the asteroid belt.




After the lecture there will be a social reception in The Lombard and we encourage all of you to come along for a chat.
All are welcome to attend and free food will be kindly provided by The Lombard.

Keep up to date on our Facebook and Twitter sites - links on the left.

A prize draw will be held after the lecture.


Booking Information

Date Monday 13th February
Subject to change - please check back later
Time 8:00p.m.

Physics Department , Fitzgerald Building, Trinity College Dublin.
There is an entrance on Lincoln Place (not far from the Merrion Square end of TCD). If you get the DART or bus to Pearse St, or drive. Use the Science Gallery entrance on Pearse Street (near the corner with Westland Row) There are maps here:  Here

Parking: Mark Street , Marks Lane , Lombard St. East .

Free Parking on the above streets after 7pm
Click HERE for a building map of Trinity College campus
Click HERE for Map of area

Admission €10 (€5 Astronomy Ireland members and concessions)
Tickets where possible should be booked in advance. Tickets can also be purchased at the door on the night, please come along 15 minutes early to accommodate.
Book Tickets February 2017

Call 086 06 46 555 to book tickets over the phone using Debit/ Credit Card
Send a cheque/ PO/ Draft, made payable to Astronomy Ireland to PO BOX 2888, Dublin 5.


This lecture is also available to people nationwide on DVD.
To order a copy of the DVD simply:
Order by credit/ debit card online
Lecture DVD February 2017
Enter Phone Number
Call 086 06 46 555
Alternatively post a Cheque or postal order to: Astronomy Ireland, PO. Box 2888, Dublin 5.
Cost: DVD's cost €10 each incl P&P (€5 Astronomy Ireland members)
Book Tickets February 2017
Lecture DVD February 2017
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Acknowledgment: Astronomy Ireland would like to thank the TCD Astrophysics Research Group for hosting AI public lectures in Trinity College Dublin.

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