Updated on 13 March 2011 – thanks to Conor Prendergast
Last night, whilst most of Northern Ireland’s political bloggers were finding out about the stars of the Slugger Awards in the Cathedral Quarter of the city, some 50 or 60 people were observing UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects), aliens, planets, and stars in the Queen’s Quarter.
There was, however, some connexion between what was happening in Hill Street and in Elmwood Avenue. Three of the four of us that had been involved with the Hammering Out of the Slugger Awards were actually in one location and not the other. Guess which three and in which location we were to be found.
Those in Elmwood Avenue learnt from
ConorColin Johnston CSci CPhys MInstP AMRAeS from the Armagh Planetarium that there is a huge increase in the sightings of UFOs reported to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the years 2006-8. Of course we can’t see what’s happening now as the MoD ceased to respond to reports of UFOs on 1 December 2009.
Our man from the Planetarium started with how he got into astronomy and UFOs in the first place. Apparently all of this is because of a book that he, as a child, pestered his mother to buy him. [Sounds a bit like others of us in other areas–Ed.]
Some facts presented:
- European Space Mission Mars Express found methane and ammonia in the atmosphere of Mars.
- Since 1995, astronomers have found 530 planets orbiting other stars, the vast majority of which are huge gas planets.
Epsilon Eridani b is one of the planets found by astronomers.
Kepler-10b is the first exoplanet found by astronomers using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. It orbits Kepler-10 in the Draco constellation. Kepler-10 is about the same size as our sun though it is about 560 light years away. The planet Kepler-10b is estimated to have a surface temperature of approximately 1833 Kelvin (1559.85 degree Celsius, 2839.73 degree Fahrenheit) which is hot enough to melt iron.
And back to the UFOs
Future reading for me will be finding out more about the Royal Order of Tibet, George Adamski, Barney & Betty Hill in 1961.
What can be mistaken for UFOs nowadays?
Chinese lanterns seems to be top of the list at the moment. Certainly they can prove to be a puzzle to some as to what they are. I remember seeing some over Gilwell Park last September. Chinese lanterns not only are reported as UFOs but also annoy farmers and HM Coastguard, so let’s hope that those releasing them are more responsible and use the biodegradable versions.
Planets – Venus, Jupiter
It seems that many people have no idea what is above them in the night sky. Obviously they were not inspired by Sir Patrick Moore (as Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, HonFRS, FRAS is more commonly known) on The Sky at Night to go out into the fields around them [unlike someone else you know very well–Ed.] and lie in the grass with binoculars, a star map, and try to identify what they were seeing.
The recommendation of
ConorColin Johnston is to find out what is above us in the sky. That way, if we see a strange light being below the moon, we may well know that it is in fact simply the planet Venus.
But back to Earth in Hill Street –
Our congratulations go to:
- Naomi Long MP for winning the Politician of the Year award.
- The Bloody Sunday Campaign for best campaign of the year.
- William Crawley of the BBC as Thinker and Explainer
- DUP Party Conference for best Creative Engagement
- Colum Eastwood of Derry City Council for best Up and Coming Politician
- Dawn Purvis, Patsy McGlone and John Dallat of the Public Accounts Committee for best Constructive Opposition
- Martin McGuinness for Building Trust and Credibility in Politics
- Mark Devenport as Political Journalist of the year
- Darragh MacIntyre for best Investigative Journalism.
Let’s hope that these stars and many others will continue to shine out in the dark world of politics in Northern Ireland.
My thanks to the Belfast Skeptics for hosting the talk by
- Vatican Demonologist: UFOs “Not Demonic” (grantlawrence.blogspot.com)
- Kepler Mission Discover’s Earth-size Exoplanets (prweb.com)
- The year of the UFO? Let’s get real (cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com)
- UFO Sighting Reports (ufos.about.com)