"Basketballs and Beyond - Wonders of the Cosmos" was the intriguing title for our March lecture given to us by Jane A Green. Jane is a professional speaker and broadcaster, who has co-presented with Sir Patrick Moore, celebrities and media professionals, and has been featured in various astronomical publications. She scripted a live television/theatre interview with the U.S. Astronomer "Buzz" Aldrin the second man on the moon, has been a guest of the BBC Radio 4 programme Midweek, and Stargazing Live, and was co-presenter of the TOUR OF THE UNIVERSE 2014, appearing with the presenters of the Sky @ Night programme and other high professional speakers. She is currently Uckfield 105 FMs' resident astronomer and co-hosts Astronomy FM under British Skies.
Jane started her talk by saying that she was a senior officer on cruise liners, and got a degree in Astrophysics and Planetary Science, loves horses, and was with the British Horse Racing Authority for ten years, used to talk to her colleagues about astronomy, and that many of them have become interested in astronomy. She also said that she does not usually give talks to Astronomy Societies as she feels that many Societies will "know it all already" (which certainly was not the case with this lecture).
Jane said that she is going to take us on a small to utterly immense journey to show us where earth, stars, planets and the sun are in relation to each other, and to the rest of the universe. A basketball was used throughout the talk to convey space, size and perspective for the many statistics that she gave us. Showing us some lovely images of galaxies and dust clouds she talked about how stars are born, live their lives in stellar nurseries, and die. She then went on to talk about all aspects of the sun, including sunspots and prominences, showed us tornadoes and a tsunami of plasma inside the sun in U.V. light, said that the sun would entirely power the United States for 4 years, and that it is 333,000 times bigger than the earth.
She went on to talk about many aspects of the planets of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and gave us many statistics, while using the basketball for comparisons. We saw many deep sky objects in amazing images on screen. There was an artist's impression of the Milky Way Galaxy with its spiral arms comprised of galaxies. It is thought that 80% of humans on our planet will never see the Milky Way.
We were told about a recent discovery that our Milky Way Galaxy sits on the edge of a gigantic supercluster of galaxies called the Laniakea supercluster, and that the Milky Way seems to be moving towards what is called the "Great Attractor" a dense region of clusters about 160 million light years away.
Jane's final statistic was that "one grain of sand in a Cathedral will still be more packed with sand than space is with stars, and that everything began with subatomic particles inside atoms measuring one ten millionth of a millimetre in a speck of dust, one thousandth the width of a human hair" a difficult statistic to comprehend.
Jane's book the Haynes Astronomy Manual is an international best seller being listed No.6 in Amazon's list of collectible Astronomy books for 2011, was on sale after the talk, and sold out.
Sixty six members and guests came to hear Jane's lecture. There were lots of questions afterwards which she was very happy to answer. Our thanks went to Jane for her fascinating and thought provoking lecture. We were delighted to welcome her.
The raffle was drawn and tea and coffee was available.