The speed of light in a vacuum, c, is one of the most important constants of nature. It even plays a fundamental role in the definition of the metre, the internationally accepted unit of length. This talk examines the reasons why the speed of light has become so important, and explains the particular role that astronomy has played in establishing its value and its significance.
Steve Broadbent will be giving us a lecture on Astronomical Spectroscopy.
He is a member of the BAA and elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
He is retired from the University of Portsmouth. Initially a chemist, he undertook research into reaction mechanisms. He used to run a spectroscopy laboratory and lectured in computational chemistry and programming.
As an aside he is an active member of and gives regular talks to the Hampshire Astronomical Group including "Constellation of the Month" as well as talks on specific interest areas such as astronomical spectroscopy and individual astronomical observatories.
Do we really understand the northern lights? Tour operators will have us believe that we do, but there are still mysteries hidden behind the dancing curtains of light.
Interweaving the science with a background of their history, folklore and changing landscape, Aurora brings together space, place and science in magnificent style. In a journey that takes her through Scandinavia, Canada and Svalbard, culminating in a spectacular solar eclipse, Dr Melanie Windridge delves into the Northern Lights.
This beautiful and inspiring lecture will describe our connection to the Sun, the scientific processes behind the polar lights, and some of the unwanted technological effects of Space Weather – with beautiful images and adventure stories.
We’re All Going To Die!
The threat from Near-Earth Objects
It came from space! It was 10 km across and it killed nearly all life on Earth! That was 65 million years ago. When might it happen again? The Earth was actually hit by minor asteroids in 1908 and 1947, and recent studies suggest that there are more such objects than previously thought.
The threat is real – it isn't a case of "if", but "when"
On the assumption we survive for the next few days!!! Jerry Stone - Author of "One Small Step", commemorating the first men on the Moon, Founder, The Sir Arthur Clarke Awards and President, The Mars Society UK will be here to talk to us about what we can do about it.
We have a lot to thank the moon for. It has influenced culture, religion and art for as long as humans have looked up and noticed our neighbour, and that's not counting how we probably owe our very existence to it's influence.
Libby Jackson is currently the manager of Human Spaceflight and Microgravity at the UK Space Agency.
From 2007, she worked at Europe's control centre for the International Space Station (ISS) as a flight instructor and controller and in 2010 she became director for the ISS European Space Agency (ESA) Columbus Module. Libby joined the UK Space Agency in 2014 and became spokesperson for Tim Peake's mission to the ISS. She had previously met Tim Peake when working at the NASA Johnson Space Center, just after he had been selected by ESA, and subsequently went on to coordinate the UK Space Agency education and outreach programme for Peake's mission.
Humans first went into space in 1961, landed on the moon in 1969, and have been be continuously living and working on-board the International Space Station since 2000, but where will we explore next? Will the next footsteps be on the Moon or Mars, and who will they belong to? Libby Jackson looks at what the future of human space exploration might hold and the challenges that will need to be overcome by the next generation of explorers.
Libby also released her first book last year.
In regions of space where stars and planets are forming, there are a plethora of molecules. It turns out that our molecular universe plays a key role in governing the processes that lead to star and planet format. But why is chemistry in space so important? In this talk we'll go on a journey from interstellar space to early solar systems, to see how chemistry helps us to understand the astrophysics of star and planet formation, and the potential for the origins of life itself.
It is a pleasure to welcome back our Vice President Professor Robert Lambourne, who will be talking to us about his favourite topic.
Carolin Crawford is an observational astronomer with over twenty years of active research experience, carried out alongside – and later eclipsed by – a growing role in the public communication of science. Carolin is just finishing a four-year term as the Professor of Astronomy for Gresham College, a role she combines with admissions and undergraduate teaching for Emmanuel College, and running an active public outreach programme at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University. She gives many presentations each year to a wide range of audiences, and can often be heard discussing astronomical matters on both national and local radio. Carolin is a confirmed speaker at this year’s International Astronomy Show, and will be bringing us up to speed with the latest developments in ‘Dark energy and the ever expanding Universe’.
Nigel J. Mason, OBE, is Professor of Molecular Physics at The Open University. He began his scientific career at University College London and after becoming a Royal Society University Research Fellow, founded the Molecular Physics group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCL. In 2002 he was appointed Professor of Molecular Physics at The Open University where he has most recently served as Associate Dean for Research, Enterprise and Scholarship for the Faculty of Science.In 2010 he funded the Astrochemistry group at the Open University. His research covers a wide range of topics including astrochemistry, plasma physics and radiation chemistry. Current astrochemical research includes experimental studies of molecular formation on dust grains in the ISM and on planetary surfaces as well as studies of molecular spectroscopy.He is an expert in electron-induced processes both in the ISM and planetary atmospheres. Nigel serves on several national and international committees and review boards, and since 2013 is chair of Europlanet, Europe’s largest planetary science forum. He is also strongly committed to widening participation in science. In 2007 he was awarded the OBE for his services to science. This talk is sure to be very thought provoking and interesting, and you guessed it, one not to be missed!
Pete Lawrence has been a presenter on the long running BBC Sky at Night television programme since 2005. He has been an astronomical consultant for the popular BBC Stargazing Live television series since it began, and appeared on the programme in 2014 as an aurora expert. Pete also writes many of the guides used by the BBC to support the programme. He compiles and writes the monthly Star Guide for the Sky at Night Magazine as well as carrying out equipment reviews on their behalf and acting as their resident imaging expert. He has held this position since the magazine started in 2005.
Pete is highly regarded in the world of astrophotography specialising in capturing time specific events. Many of his images have been published in books, magazines and online across the world. As well as having several decades of experience as an astronomical observer, he also holds an honours degree in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Leicester. As part of his astronomical duties, Pete also acts as an expert guide on specialist trips including those in search of the elusive Northern Lights and solar eclipses. He was awarded the Davies Medal by the Royal Photographic Society in 2014, for his significant contribution in the field of imaging science.
Will Gater is an astronomy journalist, author and presenter. His work has appeared in New Scientist, BBC Sky at Night Magazine, Focus and Astronomy Now, among others. He is the author of several popular astronomy books – including “The Cosmic Keyhole” and “The Night Sky Month by Month” – and is the co-author of Dorling Kindersley’s “The Practical Astronomer and Nature Guide: Stars and Planets”.Will is passionate about communicating the wonders of the Universe to all. He has made numerous appearances on television and radio to talk about astronomy and space, including on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, The Sky at Night and BBC One’s The One Show as well as Sky News, BBC News and the BBC World Service. He has also worked behind the camera as the astronomy researcher on the BBC’s long-running stargazing series The Sky at Night and hosted live astronomy shows for Slooh.com featuring real-time broadcasts of major space events and interviews with prominent astronomers & scientists. Will has a particular passion for the science and spectacle of the Northern Lights and delivers an enthusiastic and informative talk on the subject. As with all our talks this year, another one not to be missed!
Paul is an elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, co-presenter and writer of the popular Awesome Astronomy podcast, ESERO space ambassador for ESA and has appeared on BBC News and Radio to discuss a range of astronomy and space issues as well as being interviewed on the BBC’s flagship astronomy program, “The Sky At Night”. He is also part of the team that runs the bi-annual, family friendly AstroCamp in the Brecon Beacons. Paul’s enthusiasm and knowledge for all things astronomy is infectious. This talk will centre on an update of Tim Peake’s activities aboard the ISS, something close to Paul’s heart in his role as an ambassador for the European Space Agency.
Bob Lambourne is head of The Open University Physics and Astronomy Department. His research interests include astronomy and physics education, and he teaches across many fields including astronomy, particle physics, relativity and cosmology. Bob’s lectures are always popular and we are delighted that he is able to speak for us this time about the lifespan of stars.
Wednesday 18th November at Woodrow High House Sports Hall.
This Lecture details the discovery of Pluto and Charon.
Dr Mike Leggett discusses Pluto: planet or dwarf planet?
He will cover -Neptunian Objects. Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. Kuiper Belt Objects. Plutinos. Cubewanos plus the New Horizons mission to Pluto, Charon and the Kuiper Belt. Oort Cloud. Comets. The boundary of the Solar System. Pioneer &Voyager's Interstellar Mission.
A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, Dr Mike Leggett is also a member of the British Astronomical Association, the Planetary Society and the Society for the History of Astronomy (SHA). As a participant in the SHA Survey of the Astronomical History of the UK, he is currently the coordinator for Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland.
As a founder member of the South Lincolnshire Astronomical and Geophysical Society in 1976, he began to present astronomy talks for his local society. Since that time he has presented lectures for the British Interplanetary Society, at University of Aberdeen evening classes, for the Society for the History of Astronomy and to astronomical societies and other groups throughout the UK. He is currently Publicity Officer for the Milton Keynes Astronomical Society, for whom he has also served as Chairman and Secretary. He is also a Council Member and Publicity Officer for the Society for the History of Astronomy (SHA) and county co-ordinator for Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Rutland in the SHA survey of astronomical history of the UK.
A Graduate in Chemistry and Pharmacology from the University of Nottingham, Dr Leggett also holds a PhD in Chemistry. A Chartered Chemist and a Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, he is a member of the Astrophysical Chemistry Group. He also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Technical Authorship and Communication and is Member of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators.
AGM Only - letcure cancelled, (L) Astrobiology - Understanding the origins of life by Professor Nigel Mason
Cancelled - to further notice
Nigel John Mason was born into physics, his father being Sir John Mason FRS, Director General of the Meteorological Office and a noted environmental physicist. Thus he was "indoctrinated" at an early stage into recognizing physics as the premier science.
After graduating from University College London in 1983 his postgraduate studies involved the study of electron collisions with atoms and molecules in the presence of laser fields. As part of the atomic physics group at UCL he was able to demonstrate, for the first time, a prediction first made in the 1930s that in a three-body collision between an electron, atom and photon the electron may excite the atom by "absorbing" the photon, even if its initial kinetic energy is less than the excitation energy of the atomic state.
Awarded a SERC Postdoctoral Fellowship in 1988 and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 1990 he established the Molecular Physics Group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College London in 1990. The group rapidly developed a wide ranging research programme studying atmospheric physics (in particular the mechanisms of ozone depletion and global warming), collision physics and plasma physics. He was a co-founder of the UCL Centre of Cosmic Chemistry and Physics commencing a research programme to study molecular formation in the interstellar medium and planetary atmospheres.
Appointed Lecturer in 1998 and Reader in 2000 he joined the Open University in September 2002 as Professor of Physics. Co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Astrobiology and The Centre of Atomic and Molecular Engineering his research interests have expanded to include research in nanotechnology, radiation chemistry and the origins of life.
He has served on many National and International Committees and co-ordinates several major European projects. He is a keen promoter of physics and public understanding of science having held senior positions in both the Institute of Physics and the British Association of Science. In his spare time (!) he writes on military history, in particular the Napoleonic Wars. Married to Jane they share their house in Heath and Reach with two Turkish Van Cats, Pushkin and Vashka.
He will endeavour to take us on a wonderful & enlightening journey to discover &
Understand the Origins of Life....
Paul Hill BA(hons) PGCE FRAS
An elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, co-presenter and writer of the popular Awesome Astronomy podcast, committee member of the world famous Baker Street Irregular Astronomers and has appeared on BBC News and Radio to discuss a range of astronomy and space issues as well as being interviewed on The BBC’s flagship astronomy program, The Sky At Night. He is also part of the team that runs the bi-annual, family friendly AstroCamp in the Brecon Beacons. Pauls mission is to take astronomy education into schools and the wider community, enthusing children and adults alike about the universe around us.
Paul will take us on a journey through cosmology, the life and death of stars, life on Earth and what it tells us about what is potentially the ultimate question.
It will cover a little of the original topic that Prof Rawlings was going to cover, but very briefly and will go in a different direction and be thought provoking so as to leave the door open for the original lecture at a later date.
And no, the answer is not 42.
This lecture describes the life and work of Charles Messier, the 18th Century French astronomer whose one hundred and nine Messier Objects still sustain the interest of amateur and professional astronomers today. In addition to describing some of the astronomical objects in Messier’s list, and illustrating them with photographs taken largely by members of Wycombe Astronomical Society, the lecture will cover a brief history of telescopes and the challenges, opportunities (and sometimes hindrances) they presented to the early pioneer astronomers.
Sandy has been a member of Wycombe Astronomical Society since 2007 and is currently a member of the society’s Committee. He runs the Practical Meetings on the first Thursday of every month.