Meeting Dates for 2024/25
Society meetings are usually held on the first Friday of each month (except August) at 7:30pm light refreshments are available.
Entry free for members £3.00 per person for visitors
Meetings and Events
Friday 10th January 2025 19:30 AGM and Main Talk TBA
Friday 2nd. February 2024 19:30 Main Talk Claire Bradshaw "Astrophotography - from sky to screen"
I have been interested in space and astronomy most of my life, gaining my first set of binoculars as a child followed by a Tasco reflector telescope. From these early days, interruptions came with University, marriage etc and it wasn't until 2012 that I obtained my first real telescope - an eq3 Skywatcher 150p gifted from a friend's lottery winnings! After that things took off, using webcams to image planets and a DSLR to shoot deep space. I then leapt into dedicated astro-camera imaging and things moved on from there. I love doing talks, having my work on display in galleries and trying to get the next best shot, learning more as I go. I am also part of a five-woman strong team creating a forthcoming book on Women in STEM, due for release in 2024.
Friday 1st March 2024 19:30 Main Talk Rene Breton " Einstein's Theory of General Relativity was published in 1915". In over a century it has not failed a single time despite hundreds of tests and experiments. One of the most extreme environments in which to benchmark Relativity and possible alternative theories of gravity is around pulsars (after black holes, the densest objects in the Universe). In this talk, I will discuss the formidable achievements of the last 50 years in using pulsars to test Einstein's theory and describe some of the strange behaviours of space and time when submitted to extreme gravity. I will also highlight future prospects of detecting gravitational waves with pulsars.
Rene Breton received his PhD in Physics from McGill University, Canada, in 2009. He is a Professor of Astrophysics at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester. His main research interests revolve around the study of pulsars, which he uses to attempt to understand matter under extreme density, gravity and magnetic fields. Some of his past work enabled us to test 'geodetic spin precession' - a phenomenon predicted to exist in General Relativity - for the first time in the strong gravity environment. Rene also has a keen interest for science communication. He recently started applying his data analysis skills for research in the area of agriculture and trying to map the spread of invasive plants using satellite imaging.
Friday 5th April 2024 19:30 Main Talk Ian Smith “Imaging Planetary Nebulae” during which I’ll describe my take on narrow band imaging of Planetary Nebula, what they are and why they are interesting to astronomers both pro and amateur. That will lead us into the kind of equipment and techniques best suited to this kind of imaging followed by some pictures.
I’ve been an amateur astronomer for several decades and used to be chairman of the Abingdon Astronomical Society for many years. My own astronomical interests started with planetary observing and then imaging. Then when the planets effectively disappeared from UK skies, I turned to imaging PNe, which I’ve now been doing now for the last 6 years or so.
Friday 3rd May 2024 19:30 Main Talk Julian Onions Observing using the Isaac Newton Telescope, You just press the button, right? An observing trip to the Isaac Newton telescope. I got a chance to do some observing with the 2.5 m Isaac Newton telescope, should be straightforward? Just click and point? Not quite! So what does it actually take to set up and use a professional telescope? How do you plan and execute an observing run?
Julian has always had an interest in astronomy, and after many years as an amateur studied for a Phd in astrophysics at the University of Nottingham. There he studies computer models of galaxy formation using some of the biggest computers in the world, building model universes using mostly dark matter. He also helps out with undergraduate teaching and various outreach activities.
Friday 7th June 2024 19:30 Main Talk William Joyce completes and expands on his talk of last February on the "
Scientific Exploration of the Moon
Several phases of lunar exploration have taken place over the last century, and a new phase is imminent. This discussion presents some highlights and key events which informed our current knowledge of the Moon, recent scientific results and how these have influenced our understanding of lunar origin and evolution, and a glimpse of what the near future may hold. A variety of lunar features are described along with geological exploration of the surface from Apollo landings and by remote sensing from orbit, presenting a modern summary of current lunar science.
With an astrophysics degree, William has worked in space research at Leicester university with Earth remote sensing satellite instruments and in industry in laboratories, space software engineering and later in aerospace systems engineering. William changed career in the mid 2000's and obtained a degree in Earth and Planetary science and followed this with university teaching and astronomy work (and teaching at Herstmonceux observatory). Currently he is studying for a PhD and gives public talks on astronomy and planetary science.
Friday 5th July 2024 19:30 Main Talk Peter Goodhew
Peter will describe how amateur astronomers go about making such discoveries, and some of the challenges involved. He will take the audience through a typical case study. He will share some of the most remarkable, and beautiful discoveries made by the team, including some strange and unexpected objects.
Peter is part of an international team of amateur astronomers collaborating in searching the Cosmos for undiscovered objects. The team have already made over 200 discoveries. He coordinates the operation of a network of 6 high-performance robotic telescopes located in dark sites in Spain. Peter is a Fellow of The Royal Astronomical Society and a frequent contributor to Astronomy Now magazine.
No Meeting in August
Friday 6th September 2024 19:30 Main Talk Owen Brazell "Globular Clusters"
Globular clusters are one of the most interesting and enigmatic types of astronomical object. In this talk we will look at the history of discovery and what our current understanding of them is as well as what are the best ones to observe and some of the tools you might use to find them.
Owen has been interested in astronomy from an early age and got his first telescope when he was ten years old so has been involved in astronomy for over 50 years. He did an astronomy O level, probably the only time he used a Patrick Moore book, and this led to him doing an Honours degree in Astronomy at St Andrews University and then a part time MSc from Queen Mary college but has spent his working life in the oil exploration industry. Nevertheless, he has found time to be on the council of the British Astronomical Association a number of times and was deputy director of its deep sky section for 20 years. He now holds the post of President of the Webb Society and is also chairman of Abingdon AS. He has also been on the council of the FAS. His main interests are in visual deep sky observing which he does with a variety of telescopes up to 22” in aperture. He also has an interest in observing comets and in solar observing. He has given talks on various aspects deep sky observing to many societies and has written a monthly deep sky column in the Astronomy Now magazine for many years. He also writes a monthly Galaxy of the Month column for the Webb Society website. He has also contributed material to a number of books. Owen has also been a keen attendee at star parties and he has been at some of the best sites in the world for these.
Friday 4th October 2024 19:30 Main Talk TBA
Friday 1st November 2024 19:30 Main Talk Ian Sharp FRAS topic tbc. Ian has a background in physics, electronics and programming. He is a very enthusiastic, active member of the Altair Group which is currently carrying out research into the detection of exoplanets in PCEB binary systems using Eclipse Time Variations (ETVs). The most recent published paper by the Group is:
Eclipse timing variations in post-common envelope binaries: Are they a reliable indicator of circumbinary companions?
Friday 6th December 2024 19:30 19:30 Main Talk Michael Foulkes "Transit Phenomena"
This talk discusses the most famous of transit events, I.e transits of Mercury and Venus. It looks at the history of Venus transits and the attempts to use these events to measure the distance between the Earth to the Sun. It also discusses other types of transit phenomena including how transits have been used to find exo planets.
Michael is the Director of the BAA Saturn, Uranus and Neptune Section.
Observing Events weather permitting