Public Talks

Monthly Talks on Astronomical Topics of Interest

Monthly Public Talks

Our popular monthly talks are for members and the public to learn about some aspects of astronomy. These talks are aimed at ‘middle of the road’ level so the talk will appeal to members of the public with no prior knowledge, newcomers as well as those who have been interested in the subject for a number of years.

Topics from imaging the night sky, through to Cosmology, we invite speakers from all over the UK and the World.

We make a small charge on the door of £3.00 to cover our expenses

Our local venue:

Clanfield Memorial Hall,
South Lane,

If you wish to view this location on MultiMap please click here

All talks start at 7:45pm unless otherwise stated

Friday, 14th December 2018

How We'll Live on Mars

A talk by Colin Stuart

Cost: £3 for non-members

Humans will soon make their first trip to Mars.
How will we get there? What challenges will you have to overcome and what spectacular sights await the successful? In a talk packed full of stunning visuals and the latest scientific thinking, astronomy author Colin Stuart takes us on a journey to the Red Planet to witness the majesty of a Martian sunset.
Based on his two latest books – The Traveller's Guide to Mars and How to Live in Space – as well as his work with astronaut Tim Peake, strap in for a voyage of discovery and wonder that's truly out of this world.
Our speaker, Colin Stuart, will be bringing a wide range of books along for sale (half a dozen different titles or so). They range in price from £6 to £15.

Friday, 11th January 2019

The Cradle of the Sun - Did Our Solar System Form in a Star Cluster?

A talk by Dr Richard J Parker

Cost: £3 for non-members

Dr Parker is a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, working at the University of Sheffield who delivered a talk about the "Search for Planet 9" at the 2018 BAA Winchester Weekend. For this talk, he will be considering where our Sun was born.

Stars like the Sun do not form in isolation, but rather in the company of tens to millions of other stars. These stellar birth-places are often very hostile astrophysical environments, where planets can be disrupted or prevented from forming altogether. However, there are several strands of evidence that suggest the Sun MUST have formed in such a dense environment. In this talk, I will discuss the evidence for and against the Solar System's formation within a star cluster. 

Friday, 8th February 2019

The search for Planet Vulcan

A talk by Paul Fellows

Cost: £3 for non-members

This talk looks at the science and scientists involved in the prediction, search and reported discovery of planet Vulcan - a planet that never was.

We will look into just why it was predicted, and ask “Why did so many people firmly believe that it must be out there?” and “Why had it not been seen before?”. The talk covers a mixture of the observations and the theory of this tale over a period of 100 years, culminating of course in the story of how eventually of it needed a genius to come along and resolve things and revolutionize all of physics to explain what was going on.

Then we will take a more light-hearted look at other examples of mistaken discoveries and surprises in the history of the moons and planets. Did you know for instance that the Earth has two moons?
About Paul Fellows 

Paul Fellows is chair of the Cambridge Astronomical Association and co-presenter of the public observing season at the University of Cambridge leading the live outdoor shows every week (or giving indoor presentations when the clouds get in the way!). Either way these attract audiences of 200+ on a regular basis and are aimed to appeal to people of all levels from the complete beginner who wants to know where to start, yet hopefully adding something even for the more knowledgeable. He is also a regular speaker on board Queen Mary 2 for Cunard Line. 

Paul received his first degree from Cambridge University in Natural Science in 1982 before joining the University Computer Laboratory and working on compilers and interpreters for programming languages which lead on to a career in many hi-tech companies in Cambridge being awarded the Queens award for Technology, and made a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology in 2005. 

However he has always retained an interest in astronomy since building his first telescope aged 14 and experiencing the “wow” moment of seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time. He has been stargazing for some 40 years and has his own private observatory where he images the sky, taking pictures of galaxies, clusters, nebulae and planets and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2006. Many of his own images will appear in his talks.

Paul Fellows is an old friend of Hampshire Astronomical Group, having been a member back in the days when we were the Portsmouth Astronomical Group.


Image from lithographic map of 1846

Friday, 12th April 2019


A talk by Dr Seshadri Nadathur

Cost: £3 for non-members

Dr Seshadri Nadathur is a Dennis Sciama Fellow at the Institute of Cosmology & Gravitation of the University of Portsmouth.
Details of his talk will be added here shortly.

Friday, 10th May 2019

Multimessenger Astronomy

A talk by Dr Stephen Webb

Cost: £3 for non-members

Almost everything we know about the universe came from observing electromagnetic radiation.
But information from astrophysical events can reach us via three other types of messenger:
  • charged cosmic rays,
  • neutrinos,
  • and gravitational waves.

By combining signals from the four different messengers we can gain new insights.

This talk looks at how multimessenger astronomy recently shed light on a decades-old puzzle, and it looks forward to what we might learn next.

Friday, 8th November 2019

The Consequences of Contact with ET

A talk by Martin Griffiths

Cost: £3 for non-members

We have been searching deliberately for extraterrestrial signals since the 1960’s. Although so much thought, effort and technology has been invested in the search for ETI, little consideration has been given to the consequences of such contact and how discovering that we are not alone in the universe will affect our society and culture here on Earth. This talk will cover some of the most important aspects of our human response to finding life elsewhere in the cosmos.

Our speaker tonight, Martin Griffiths, was a founder member of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute Science Communication Group, active between 2003-2006 and managed a multi-million pound ESF programme in Astrobiology for adult learners between 2003-2008. He has been an adviser to several museum projects on the interface between science and science fiction, including exhibitions on the science of Star Trek and the Science of Aliens.

Martin is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society; a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy; a member of the British Astronomical Association; the Webb Deep-Sky Society; the Society for Popular Astronomy, The Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the Astronomical League. He is also a local representative for the BAA Commission for Dark Skies.