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, 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

Gravity, dark energy and the dance of galaxies with Euclid

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.
Euclid is a fantastic space-based telescope mission of the European Space Agency, currently under construction and due for launch soon. Once operational, it will provide vast and very precise maps of galaxies through the Universe. Dr Nadathur will describe how cosmologists will use these maps to study the dance of galaxies, from which we can infer information about the true theory of gravity, and the mysterious `dark energy’ that appears to be ripping our Universe apart.

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, 14th June 2019

Ten Ways the Universe Tries to Kill You

A talk by Stephen Tonkin FRAS

Cost: £3 for non-members

From gamma-ray bursts to asteroid impacts, an overview of cataclysmic events. This light-hearted but scientifically robust approach incorporates a lot of fundamental cosmological processes, from stellar evolution to galactic interaction. It is appropriate for both beginning and intermediate amateur astronomers.

Friday, 11th October 2019

Wonders of the Universe: A TripAdvisor Top 10

A talk by Professor Brad Gibson

Cost: £3 for non-members

The Universe never ceases to amaze… over the course of an hour, we’ll wander through the darkest (and brightest!) recesses of the cosmos, stopping for visits at the most jaw-dropping sites imaginable.  Rather than re-visit the popular tourist destinations, we’ll go off the beaten path, and focus our travels on some of the lesser-known wonders of the Universe.  Join us for a rollicking adventure, led by your tour guide, Professor Brad Gibson, Director of the University of Hull’s E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics, delivering this year's Ray Bootland Memorial Lecture.

Professor Gibson joined the University of Hull in 2015 and established the E.A Milne Centre for Astrophysics. One of the country's most influential scientists, his 300 publications have amassed 20,000 citations from his peers. His research was named a Top 10 News Story of the year by National Geographic; with the Hubble Space Telescope, he determined the expansion rate of the Universe, for which his team was awarded the Gruber Prize in Cosmology. Brad discovered that our Milky Way is cannibalising its neighbours, the Magellanic Clouds. A world-renowned expert in using supercomputers to model the distribution of chemical elements throughout the Universe, Gibson's team are Hull's research stars.

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.