Speakers 2017-18

2017-18 Season Speakers :

Paul Fellows MA FRAS1st Mar. 2018 Paul Fellows MA FRAS : Fire & Ice Volcanoes in our Solar System
The exploration of the solar system has led to the discovery and study of volcanic processes on other worlds and in some very surprising places. What can this tell us about the formation of the planets and also about the prospects for the possibilities of life beyond Earth?
Paul Fellows is co-presenter of the Public Open Nights at the Cambridge University Institute of Astronomy. 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.
Originally from Portsmouth, Paul came to Cambridge University in 1979 for his first-degree in Natural Sciences. He then joined the Computer Laboratory for his post-graduate studies and founded and grew several start-up companies in the Cambridge Hi-Tech scene, leading to successful share exits. He remains active as a board-advisor and consultant in that arena on a part time basis, but devotes the rest of his time to his life-long interest in Astronomy which began when he built an 8” Newtonian reflector aged 14 and experiencing the “wow” moment of seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time.
These days he has his own private observatory where he images the sky, taking pictures of galaxies, clusters, nebulae and planets and using data from the Kepler Space Telescope he co-discovered a planet orbiting the star KIC9147029 which lies in the habitable zone of its parent star.

He also is a Royal Astronomical Fellow in residence for Cunard Line and lectures on board the ships on a regular basis all over the world.
Many of his own images will appear in his presentations

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and of Royal Astronomical Society. He is also Chairman of the Cambridge Astronomical Association – the largest local amateur association in the UK.  



David Baker PhD BSc FBIS FRHS 5th Apr. 2018 David Baker PhD BSc FBIS FRHS : Mars Explorations

Now the perceived destination for deep-space explorers, Mars has received unprecedented attention from unmanned orbiters, landers and roving vehicles over the last 50 years - and more are planned for the next decade. But just what do we know about this enigmatic world and is it likely that there was ever life on the Red Planet? And what is the origin of its aged surface and where are we likely to find water - key essentials for the building-blocks of life? Just two of the questions for which we will attempt to find ways to locate answers.

David Baker received his PhD in Earth and Planetary Science in the United States, specialising in lunar geomorphology, moved to do a couple of engineering degrees and worked for NASA on the Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programmes. During the 1970s and 1980s he spent considerable time in many countries in the Far East for NASA advising on space applications. He has written more than 100 books on space activities, was editor of Jane's Space Directory between 1998 and 2005 and is now Editor of Spaceflight, the monthly magazine of the British Interplanetary Society. David regularly appears on TV, radio and podcasts and was voted a member of the International Academy of Astronautics in the 1980s, receiving the Rolls Royce Award in 1998, the Sir Arthur Clarke award in 2008, and the American Astronautical Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He lives in East Sussex with his wife Ann.  



5th May. 2018 Alan Chapman, Nik Szymanek or Members Presentations : details to be confirmed closer to the time




Alan Chapman or Members Presentations7th Jun. 2018 Alan Chapman or Members Presentations : details to be confirmed closer to the time




Andy Burns7th Jul. 2018 Andy Burns : details to follow






Dave Eagle7th Sep. 2018 Dave Eagle : details to follow






Guy Hurst7th Oct. 2018 Guy Hurst : Comet Observing

The talk covers the history of great comets of the past together with their cause and links to the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt. We examine the amazing information gathered from very ancient records and their value as in the case of Comet Halley.

Following this, the main thrust of the presentation is to explain their orbits and features. We discuss vital observing techniques needed to study or even discover (!) the latest comets both visually and by imaging techniques. Famous discoverers such as the late George Alcock and Roy Panther will be mentioned.

Finally the speaker will clarify how to report results to The Astronomer and the British Astronomical Association’s Comet Section.

Guy has been an active observer of the night skies since 1971, specialising in novae and supernovae. From 1975 to this day he has been editor of 'The Astronomer' an international monthly magazine. He is also a former president of the British Astronomical Association from whom he received their top award, the 'Walter Goodacre Medal'.

He set up the UK Nova/Supernova Patrol in 1976 which now has some of the most successful discoverers of these objects in the world.

In 2005 he also received the international award, ‘Services to Astronomy’ from the professional group, the Royal Astronomical Society for promotion of the subject to audiences of all ages. This includes talks to junior schools on various subjects including space to support plans of teachers.

For over 25 years he has also run adult education courses for astronomy in five counties and 19 centres, this in addition to giving talks to various groups including astronomical societies and even NASA in USA.  




David Southwood1st Feb. 2018 David Southwood : Magnetic Field Instruments on the Cassini Huygens mission

Cassini-Huygens is one of the most successful international space missions. 35 years ago, a small group of US and European scientists conceived the idea of an American orbiter of Saturn delivering a European probe to the moon, Titan. NASA and ESA eventually took up the idea and in 1997 Cassini-Huygens was launched to arrive in Saturn orbit seven years on. The Huygens probe descended through the clouds of Titan, to land on January 15th 2005. Using regular gravity assists from Titan, Cassini has continued in orbits customised for science targets until, in April 2017, it started a series of 22 orbits taking it inside Saturn’s rings finally to be crushed by the atmosphere in September 2017. The speaker built an instrument for the US mother ship, Cassini but then found himself heading the ESA team landing the Huygens probe on Titan. The Cassini mission ended on September 15th (19 years and 11 months after launch) with the planned crash of the spacecraft into Saturn’s atmosphere.
David, a planetary scientist, is chairman of the Steering Board of the UK Space Agency and Senior Research Investigator at Imperial College. He had an academic career as a space scientist at Imperial College, London and in the USA. In 1997, he left academia for the European Space Agency to draw up what has become the current architecture of European Earth Observation space programmes (Living Planet and Copernicus). In 2001 he made another major change in career and became Director of Science at ESA, taking responsibility for all Astronomy and Space science missions. He retired from ESA in 2011, returned to Imperial College. He is currently chair of the Steering Board of UK Space Agency. He is a past president of the Royal Astronomical Society (2012-2014), a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a member of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Advisory Council.


David Mannion4th Jan. 2018 Dr David Mannion : Astronomical Numbers

Astronomically large numbers from the numbers of seconds since the Big Bang to the time it takes light to cross an Atom, from how many electrons are in the Universe to the mass of the Universe. There are more stars in our Universe than grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth! How do we measure such enormous distances, times and masses!?

David Mannion has three degrees in Astronomy and has taught in Schools and Colleges for 28 years in the UK, Austria and Turkey. He has also been a tutor for the Open University in both Physics and Astronomy.

Dr. Mannion became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1984 and was a member of its Education Committee 2005 - 2010.

He has run numerous Astronomy Clubs and was a founder member and a Vice President of the Association for Astronomy Education.

His other burning interest is weightlifting having once been a British Student Weightlifting and Powerlifting Champion in 1984. He is currently a National Referee for British Weightlifting and became a Masters Champion in the 94 kg class in 2007, 2010 and again in 2012.

He wishes to keep lifting weights and watching the stars for as long as possible. He has two videos on Galileo and Newton on YouTube (See The Heavens Above episode 1 and 2). His web site is http://WorldofAstronomy.org.uk/.


7th Dec. 2017 :
William Joyce: Exploring Ideas about the Moon through the Ages 
Melanie Davies: The Spectrum of Space

We were very sorry to learn that Brad Gross, who was to be our speaker at December's meeting, has passed away following a short and unexpected illness. Our thoughts are with his family and his colleagues at this difficult time. He was an exceptional person and will be missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know him.

We think Brad would have wanted our meeting to continue, and Will Joyce and Melanie Davies (both long-time colleagues and friends of Brad's) have kindly agreed to present a talk in his place.


Alan Chapman or Members Presentations7th Nov. 2017 Richard Pearson : The Sun
So much is unknown about our nearest Star and Richard will show you its beginnings, life cycle, ending and its place in the Universe.





Caroline Beevis5th October 2017 Caroline Beevis - “Space Dogs, The True Story of Russia’s Canine Cosmonauts”

Space Dogs, The True Story of Russia’s Canine Cosmonauts’ tells the true story of all 48 dogs and the scientists who were given the task of sending an animal into Space in preparation for Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight. This presentation features rare images and footage leading up to and beyond Laika’s tragic flight of November 3rd 1957, and it includes artwork and music from around the globe that was inspired by Laika, making it an informative, sensitive presentation suitable for all ages.

A life-long stargazer, Caroline has been involved with the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester for fifteen years, is a member of Mid Kent Astronomical Society, and has given regular talks, workshops and astronomy evenings in schools around Kent and Sussex. She has had astro-images published, as well as being guest astronomer in The Namib Desert.


Melanie Davies7th Sept. 2017 Melanie Davies : The Cassini Mission

Melanie brought us up to date with the magnificently successful Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn! With the end of the mission on the 15th Sept Melanie brought us up-to-date Cassini news and images/video including items only 3 days old.
If you wanted to see that Wave at Saturn image that Melanie spoke about in that full high resolution version you can find it at nasa.gov. To find out more about this mission go to https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.  

William JoyceWe also had William Joyce present a fascinating talking on 'The Mystery of the Ice Volcanoes' in our second half. A comparison of the planet Earth volcanic systems against the rest of the solar system moons and planets with some surprising and unexplained findings.





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