Welcome to the Moon!

I was in Ballyclare for the first meeting of the Northern Ireland Amateur Astronomy Society last night giving a talk on the Moon. I don't know about the audience but I had a great time. Thanks to all involved for making me so welcome.

I promised to provide sources for all the wacky stuff I talked about so here's a reading list.

Apollo Archive (Images and much more about the Apollo missions)

Bizony, Piers, The man who ran the Moon: James Webb, JFK and the secret history of project Apollo, Icon, Cambridge, 2006 (Fascinating look at how the Apollo missions were managed.)

Chaikin, Andrew, A man on the moon: the voyages of the Apollo astronauts, Penguin, London, 1994 (Complete, accurate, brilliantly written: the best book on Apollo, if you read one book on this list, make it this one!)

Clarke, A.C, “The men on the Moon” in Report on Planet Three, Pan, London, 1984 (Amusing essay on the naming of lunar features)

Godwin, Robert, Project Apollo: exploring the Moon, Apogee, Burlington, 2006 (Very useful pocket-sized guide to the later Apollo missions)

Godwin, Robert, Apollo 11: first men on the Moon, Apogee, Burlington, 2005 (A pocket-sized guide to Neil and Buzz’s excellent adventure)

Godwin, Robert, The lunar exploration scrapbook, a pictorial history of lunar vehicles, Apogee, Ontario, 2007 (A magnificent guide to the evolution of Apollo hardware including vehicles and devices which never flew.)

Kustenmacher, Werner, The Moon: A guide for first-time visitors, Fommers, New York 1999 (A fun and factual lunar travel guide.)

Light, Michael, Full Moon, Jonathon Cape, London, 1999 (A wonderful coffee table book of beautiful photographs taken on Moon missions.)

Mackenzie, Dana, The Big Splat, Wiley, New Jersey, 2003 (Clear account of theories of lunar origin.)

Pellegrino, Charles R. and Stoff, Joshua, Chariots for Apollo: The making of the lunar module, Antheneum, New York, 1985 (History of the Lunar Module with some facts I’ve never seen anywhere else.)

Riley, Christopher and Dolling, Phil, NASA mission AS-506 Apollo 11 1969 (including Saturn V, CM-107, SM-107, LM-5), Haynes, Yeovil, 2009 (Gimmicky presentation but very solid technical description of the Apollo 11 mission’s hardware.)

Rose, Bill, Secret Projects, military space technology, Midland Publishing, Surrey, 2008 (Not specially about the moon, but has a detailed description of a bizarre 1950’s plan to build a US Army base on the Moon)

Shayler, David J, Apollo 11 moonlanding, Ian Allan Ltd, Surrey, 1989 (A minute by minute account of the historic mission)

Smith, Andrew, Moondust: in search of the men who fell to Earth, Bloomsbury, London, 2005 (Very readable account of the lives of the Apollo crews today.)

"It's quiet... Too quiet."

Imaged with the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, NGC 4666 lies some 80 million light years from Earth. All looks calm and peaceful, however the bright centre of this galaxy is actually the site of clashing, titanic forces.

Stirred by the gravitational pull of other near by galaxies such as NGC 4668 (lower left of image), NGC 4666 is pumping out new generations of stars. Very active star-forming galaxies like this are known as starburst galaxies. Starburst galaxies are exciting, turbulent places. Strong stellar winds from giant new stars in the starburst region combine with the the blasts of supernovae to push a mighty flood of hot gas, a "superwind" from the galaxy thousands of light years into intergalactic space. Alas the superwind is too tenuous to see in visible light, but has been observed in X-rays. There is much, much more to the Universe than meets the eye.

Image Credit: ESO