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PUBLIC LECTURES

The RAS hosts popular 45-minute lunch- or evening-time lectures for non-specialists, at which members of the public can listen to leading scientists talk about their work. Please note that attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no charge, and doors open 30 minutes before the start of each lecture.

Venue: Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BQ, UK

London Underground: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus

Contact the Events Manager or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.




International Women's Day Public Lecture
Date: 8 Mar 2017
Time: 18:00

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Every person - women, men and non-binary people - can play a part in helping drive better outcomes for women. Through meaningful celebration and targeted bold action, we can all be responsive and responsible leaders in creating a more gender inclusive world.

 

This RAS special public lecture showcases the work of current female RAS Fellows. Short talks from Professor Helen Mason, a theoretical physicist involved in many solar space projects, Dr Anasuya Aruliah, researching space weather, Rosie Johnson, studying the powerful aurora of Jupiter, Professor Carolin Crawford, Public Astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy of Cambridge and Dr Carole Haswell, understanding the dynamics of black holes and the detection of exoplanets, come together to celebrate the RAS and the exciting research in the fields of astronomy and geophysics.


Free tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/international-womens-day-public-lecture-tickets-31963284043




RAS Public Lecture: Gaia – Mapping the Milky Way from Space
Date: 14 Mar 2017
Time: 13:00

Gaia – Mapping the Milky Way from Space
Professor Gerry Gilmore, Cambridge University
(Venue: Geological Lecture Theatre, no booking required)

Gaia is the European Space Agency mission which is revolutionising our knowledge of our Milky Way Galaxy, providing a census of positions, motions, colours, and properties of 1.5billion stars. Gaia's data are revolutionising most of astronomy, from near-Earth asteroids, through stellar evolution, the structure, formation and evolution of our Milky Way Galaxy, the distribution of Dark Matter in the Milky Way, the number of planetary systems around other stars, the cosmological distance scale, and fundamental tests of General Relativity. Gaia was launched in 2013, is operating well 1.5million km from Earth, making ultra-precise measurements for the first massive survey of stellar parallaxes, and hence distances. Gaia's billion-pixel camera measures some one million stars, 10million position measurements and 300,000 spectra of 100,000 stars per hour, over an initial 5-year mission. The Gaia satellite is the most precise large mission ever developed, with precision equivalent to measuring the thickness of a single human hair from a distance of 1000km, requiring some impressive big-data challenges. In addition to the wealth of position data Gaia's camera repeatedly scanning the sky discovers variable and new sources. These are published immediately for follow up by professional astronomers and by amateur astronomers and school classes, using remotely controlled telescopes across the world. Gaia's first major data release happens on Sept 14 2016. You can learn more, follow the mission, and download the app at https://gaia.ac.uk. Further information is available at the ESA website http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/home.

 

Professor Gerry Gilmore FRS is Professor of Experimental Philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University. He is the UK Principal Investigator for the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, which includes groups in Cambridge, MSSL/UCL, RAL, Leicester, Bristol and Edinburgh, and the Cambridge Gaia Data Processing Centre. Originally from New Zealand he has been involved in Gaia since it began in the early 1990s, and was one of the 4 presenters of the mission for ESA acceptance in 2000. His research interests cover Galactic structure – he discovered the Galactic thick disk in the 1980s; Galaxy evolution – he discovered the Sgr galaxy, the ongoing merger which is forming the outer Milky Way today; stellar dynamics – he determined the first modern robust measurement of the dark matter distribution near the Sun; and stellar chemical abundances – he is co-PI of the Gaia-ESO Spectroscopic survey, the largest large-telescope survey of stellar chemical abundances, mapping the history of the chemical elements of which we are made. He has published over 700 scientific articles which have been cited by other articles some 30,000 times.




RAS Public Lecture: Gaia – Mapping the Milky Way from Space
Date: 14 Mar 2017
Time: 18:00

Gaia – Mapping the Milky Way from Space
Professor Gerry Gilmore, Cambridge University

 

(Venue: RAS Lecture Theatre, booking required - booking opens 15/02/2017 - tickets via eventbite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gaia-mapping-the-milky-way-from-space-tickets-31126936505 )

 

Gaia is the European Space Agency mission which is revolutionising our knowledge of our Milky Way Galaxy, providing a census of positions, motions, colours, and properties of 1.5billion stars. Gaia's data are revolutionising most of astronomy, from near-Earth asteroids, through stellar evolution, the structure, formation and evolution of our Milky Way Galaxy, the distribution of Dark Matter in the Milky Way, the number of planetary systems around other stars, the cosmological distance scale, and fundamental tests of General Relativity. Gaia was launched in 2013, is operating well 1.5million km from Earth, making ultra-precise measurements for the first massive survey of stellar parallaxes, and hence distances. Gaia's billion-pixel camera measures some one million stars, 10million position measurements and 300,000 spectra of 100,000 stars per hour, over an initial 5-year mission. The Gaia satellite is the most precise large mission ever developed, with precision equivalent to measuring the thickness of a single human hair from a distance of 1000km, requiring some impressive big-data challenges. In addition to the wealth of position data Gaia's camera repeatedly scanning the sky discovers variable and new sources. These are published immediately for follow up by professional astronomers and by amateur astronomers and school classes, using remotely controlled telescopes across the world. Gaia's first major data release happens on Sept 14 2016. You can learn more, follow the mission, and download the app at https://gaia.ac.uk. Further information is available at the ESA website http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/home.

 

Professor Gerry Gilmore FRS is Professor of Experimental Philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University. He is the UK Principal Investigator for the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium, which includes groups in Cambridge, MSSL/UCL, RAL, Leicester, Bristol and Edinburgh, and the Cambridge Gaia Data Processing Centre. Originally from New Zealand he has been involved in Gaia since it began in the early 1990s, and was one of the 4 presenters of the mission for ESA acceptance in 2000. His research interests cover Galactic structure – he discovered the Galactic thick disk in the 1980s; Galaxy evolution – he discovered the Sgr galaxy, the ongoing merger which is forming the outer Milky Way today; stellar dynamics – he determined the first modern robust measurement of the dark matter distribution near the Sun; and stellar chemical abundances – he is co-PI of the Gaia-ESO Spectroscopic survey, the largest large-telescope survey of stellar chemical abundances, mapping the history of the chemical elements of which we are made. He has published over 700 scientific articles which have been cited by other articles some 30,000 times.

 




RAS Public Lecture: Our Dynamic Sun
Date: 11 Apr 2017
Time: 13:00

Our Dynamic Sun

Dr Helen Mason (Cambridge)

 

(Venue: Geological Lecture Theatre, no booking required)

 

Several solar spacecraft have been observing the Sun over the past few years:
SoHO, Stereo, Hinode, SDO and most recently IRIS. We now have detailed
images and movies of the Sun, which show that it is very complex and dynamic.
This talk will review what we have learnt about our Sun from these space observations, in particular what we know about solar activity and solar flares, together with the impact that the Sun can have on the Earth's environment (space weather).

 

Dr Helen Mason is a solar scientist at the University of Cambridge. She has worked on many solar space projects in the UV and X-ray wavelength ranges (most recently: SoHO, Hinode, SDO and IRIS).

 

In 2014, Helen was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education and to Women in Science, Engineering and Technology. She has participated in many outreach projects and given science presentations to audiences at many venues, including the Royal Institution. She has participated in several TV programs, most recently BBC4's 'Seven Ages of Starlight'. She leads the Sun|trek project

(www.suntrek.org) which explores the Sun and its effects on the Earth. Most recently she has been working with schools on science projects linked to Tim Peake's flight on the ISS.




RAS Public Lecture: Our Dynamic Sun
Date: 11 Apr 2017
Time: 18:00

Our Dynamic Sun

Dr Helen Mason (Cambridge)

 

(Venue: Royal Astronomical Lecture Theatre - booking required and opens 15/03/2017 - free tickets via Eventbrite)

 

Several solar spacecraft have been observing the Sun over the past few years:
SoHO, Stereo, Hinode, SDO and most recently IRIS. We now have detailed
images and movies of the Sun, which show that it is very complex and dynamic.
This talk will review what we have learnt about our Sun from these space observations, in particular what we know about solar activity and solar flares, together with the impact that the Sun can have on the Earth's environment (space weather).

 

Dr Helen Mason is a solar scientist at the University of Cambridge. She has worked on many solar space projects in the UV and X-ray wavelength ranges (most recently: SoHO, Hinode, SDO and IRIS).

 

In 2014, Helen was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education and to Women in Science, Engineering and Technology. She has participated in many outreach projects and given science presentations to audiences at many venues, including the Royal Institution. She has participated in several TV programs, most recently BBC4's 'Seven Ages of Starlight'. She leads the Sun|trek project

(www.suntrek.org) which explores the Sun and its effects on the Earth. Most recently she has been working with schools on science projects linked to Tim Peake's flight on the ISS.






RAS Public Lecture: ESA's Space Science and Exploration Missions
Date: 9 May 2017
Time: 13:00

ESA's Space Science and Exploration Missions

Professor Mark McCaughrean

 

(Venue: Geological Society Lecture Theatre - no booking required)

 

The European Space Agency operates and is partner in a fleet of spacecraft studying the Sun, probing the Earth's magnetic field, orbiting various solar system bodies, and collecting photons across the electromagnetic spectrum, from corners of the Universe near and far.

 

In this talk, Prof. Mark McCaughrean will present some key recent results from ongoing missions, including the Milky Way surveyor Gaia, the gravitational wave technology testbed LISA Pathfinder, and present results from two major solar system missions, namely the Rosetta comet chaser, which ended its mission at Comet 67P in September 2016, and the ExoMars 2016 mission, which arrived at Mars in October 2016. He will conclude with a look forward to the exciting new mission currently being built for launch in coming years.

 

Prof. Mark McCaughrean is Senior Science Advisor in the Directorate of Science at the European Space Agency. He is also responsible for communicating results from ESA's astronomy, heliophysics, planetary, and fundamental physics missions to the scientific community and wider general public. Following a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, he worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, followed by astronomical institutes in Tucson, Heidelberg, Bonn, and Potsdam, and taught as a professor of astrophysics at the University of Exeter before joining ESA in 2009. His personal scientific research involves observational studies of the formation of stars and their planetary systems, and he is also an Interdisciplinary Scientist for the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.




RAS Public Lecture: ESA's Space Science and Exploration Missions
Date: 9 May 2017
Time: 18:00

ESA's Space Science and Exploration Missions

Professor Mark McCaughrean

 

(Venue: Royal Astonomical Society Lecture Theatre, booking required - booking opens 12 April 2017 - free tickets via Eventbrite)

 

The European Space Agency operates and is partner in a fleet of spacecraft studying the Sun, probing the Earth's magnetic field, orbiting various solar system bodies, and collecting photons across the electromagnetic spectrum, from corners of the Universe near and far.

 

In this talk, Prof. Mark McCaughrean will present some key recent results from ongoing missions, including the Milky Way surveyor Gaia, the gravitational wave technology testbed LISA Pathfinder, and present results from two major solar system missions, namely the Rosetta comet chaser, which ended its mission at Comet 67P in September 2016, and the ExoMars 2016 mission, which arrived at Mars in October 2016. He will conclude with a look forward to the exciting new mission currently being built for launch in coming years.

 

Prof. Mark McCaughrean is Senior Science Advisor in the Directorate of Science at the European Space Agency. He is also responsible for communicating results from ESA's astronomy, heliophysics, planetary, and fundamental physics missions to the scientific community and wider general public. Following a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, he worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, followed by astronomical institutes in Tucson, Heidelberg, Bonn, and Potsdam, and taught as a professor of astrophysics at the University of Exeter before joining ESA in 2009. His personal scientific research involves observational studies of the formation of stars and their planetary systems, and he is also an Interdisciplinary Scientist for the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope.