Archive for January 6, 2020

A Blog on Nollaig na mBan

Posted in Biographical, Maynooth on January 6, 2020 by telescoper

In the Liturgical Calendar today (6th January) is the date of Epiphany, the tradition arrival date of the Wise Men from the East bearing gifts. Like them I also travelled from the East today and gave arrived at my destination in Maynooth. Not sure about the gifts though.

In Ireland today is also Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Christmas), a day on which it is traditional for women to get together and enjoy their own Christmas, while the menfolk stay at home and handle the chores. Although an old tradition, emanating from the West of Ireland, the traditional Nollaig na mBan has apparently had a bit of a resurgence in recent years.

Anyway it’s been a very quiet Christmas for me, not least in terms of the weather which has been mild and largely rain-free. Except, that is, for the precise time that I walked to the bus stop to get the bus to Cardiff Airport during which I got drenched. I’ve been away from Ireland for a couple of weeks so don’t know what it has been like here but it’s a lot chillier here. My flat is particularly cold as the heating has been off all the time I’ve been away.

I was supposed to be in the office today but I only realised on Saturday that I’d booked my return flight on 6th (today) not 5th (yesterday). Not a great start to a year in which I am supposed to be improving my time management! I probably didn’t miss anything vital as there are no lectures this week; the January examination period starts on Friday and the days before that are meant for private study.

I do have quite a few things to do tomorrow though – including answering a ton of emails – so I think an early night followed by an early start tomorrow morning might be in order!

The Largest Known Spiral Galaxy – UGC 2885

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2020 by telescoper

So here I am, Christmas break over, waiting in Cardiff Airport for my flight back to civilization. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share this wonderful picture, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope, of the galaxy UGC 2885 – the largest known spiral galaxy. You can click on the picture to make it bigger or if you really are a size queen you can download an ultra-high=resolution version here.

UGC 2885 is located about 71 Mpc (232 million light-years) from us, in the direction of the constellation Perseus. The galaxy is 2.5 times wider than our own Milky Way and contains approximately 10 times as many stars. A number of foreground stars (in our Galaxy), identified by the diffraction crosses produced by unresolved point sources, can be seen in the image, including one superimposed on the disk of the galaxy, to the left of its centre. The galaxy UGC 2885 has been nicknamed “Rubin’s galaxy” after Vera Rubin, the astronomer who studied the rotation of the galaxy and found evidence for dark matter therein.

There is a very interesting and informative thread on Twitter by Benne Holwerda covering the background to this latest image of the galaxy:

If you click on the above it will take you to Twitter where you can read the series of linked tweets on this subject by clicking on `show this thread’.