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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.




RAS Public Lecture: Brave new worlds: the planets around other stars
Date: 11 Oct 2016
Time: 13:00

Brave new worlds: the planets and others stars

Professor Giovanna Tinetti, UCL

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

 

The Earth is special to us – it's our home. But is it really special as a planet? Every star we can see in the night sky is likely to be orbited by planets. There are probably a hundred billion planets in our galaxy alone.


In less than 30 years, more than 3000 "exoplanets" have been discovered in distant solar systems. There are planets completing a revolution in less than one day, as well as planets orbiting two or even three stars or moving on trajectories so eccentric as to resemble comets. Some of them are freezing cold, some are so hot that their surface is molten. But beyond that our knowledge falters: What are they made of? How did they form? What's the weather like there? Are they habitable?


Finding out why are these new worlds as they are, is one of the key challenges of modern astrophysics.

 

Giovanna Tinetti is Professor of Astrophysics at University College London, where she coordinates a research team on extrasolar planets since 2007. She is Principal Investigator of ARIEL, one of the three candidate-missions selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium class (M4) science mission, due for launch in 2026 and Science Lead for the Twinkle UK space mission, designed to investigate the atmospheric composition and temperature of exoplanets.


Select appointments and achievements include Principal Investigator, European Research Council-funded programme "Exo-Lights", co-editor of American Astronomical Society DPS journal, ICARUS, and Institute of Physics Moseley medal 2011 for pioneering use of IR transmission spectroscopy for molecular detection in exoplanet atmospheres.


Awarded a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Turin in Italy, Giovanna is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and has previously been an ESA external fellow in Paris and NASA Astrobiology Institute/NRC fellow at Caltech/JPL.




RAS Public Lecture: Brave new worlds: the planets around other stars
Date: 11 Oct 2016
Time: 18:00

Brave new worlds: the planets and others stars

Professor Giovanna Tinetti, UCL

(Venue: RAS Lecture Theatre - booking required - booking opens 12/09/16)

 

The Earth is special to us – it's our home. But is it really special as a planet? Every star we can see in the night sky is likely to be orbited by planets. There are probably a hundred billion planets in our galaxy alone.


In less than 30 years, more than 3000 "exoplanets" have been discovered in distant solar systems. There are planets completing a revolution in less than one day, as well as planets orbiting two or even three stars or moving on trajectories so eccentric as to resemble comets. Some of them are freezing cold, some are so hot that their surface is molten. But beyond that our knowledge falters: What are they made of? How did they form? What's the weather like there? Are they habitable?


Finding out why are these new worlds as they are, is one of the key challenges of modern astrophysics.

 

Giovanna Tinetti is Professor of Astrophysics at University College London, where she coordinates a research team on extrasolar planets since 2007. She is Principal Investigator of ARIEL, one of the three candidate-missions selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium class (M4) science mission, due for launch in 2026 and Science Lead for the Twinkle UK space mission, designed to investigate the atmospheric composition and temperature of exoplanets.


Select appointments and achievements include Principal Investigator, European Research Council-funded programme "Exo-Lights", co-editor of American Astronomical Society DPS journal, ICARUS, and Institute of Physics Moseley medal 2011 for pioneering use of IR transmission spectroscopy for molecular detection in exoplanet atmospheres.


Awarded a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Turin in Italy, Giovanna is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and has previously been an ESA external fellow in Paris and NASA Astrobiology Institute/NRC fellow at Caltech/JPL.

 




RAS Public Lecture: Jets in Space
Date: 8 Nov 2016
Time: 13:00

Jets in Space

Professor Katherine Blundell, University of Oxford

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

 

If our eyes could see very deeply at radio wavelengths we could see that all across the universe are linear streaks of plasma. These streaks can extend over millions of light years in extent, way beyond the galaxies from whose centres they emerge, yet they are launched from vastly smaller regions close to massive black holes. I will illustrate my talk with a wide variety of strikingly beautiful examples of these phenomena, which powerfully and dramatically impact their surroundings.

 

Katherine Blundell is a Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University and a Research Fellow at St John's College. Prior to this she was one of the Royal Society's University Research Fellows, having been a Research Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and before that a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.

 

Her awards include a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Astrophysics, the Royal Society's Rosalind Franklin Medal in 2010, the Institute of Physics Bragg Medal in 2012 and the Royal Astronomical Society's Darwin Lectureship in 2015.

 

Her research interests span a broad range of topics. She has published extensively on the evolution of active galaxies and their life cycles, on the accretion of material near black holes and the launch and propagation of relativistic jets. She uses techniques from across the electromagnetic spectrum, both imaging and spectroscopy, as well as computational techniques.




RAS Public Lecture: Jets in Space
Date: 8 Nov 2016
Time: 18:00

Jets in Space

Professor Katherine Blundell, University of Oxford

(Venue: RAS Lecture Theatre, booking required - booking opens 10/10/2016)

 

If our eyes could see very deeply at radio wavelengths we could see that all across the universe are linear streaks of plasma. These streaks can extend over millions of light years in extent, way beyond the galaxies from whose centres they emerge, yet they are launched from vastly smaller regions close to massive black holes. I will illustrate my talk with a wide variety of strikingly beautiful examples of these phenomena, which powerfully and dramatically impact their surroundings.

 

Katherine Blundell is a Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University and a Research Fellow at St John's College. Prior to this she was one of the Royal Society's University Research Fellows, having been a Research Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and before that a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.

 

Her awards include a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Astrophysics, the Royal Society's Rosalind Franklin Medal in 2010, the Institute of Physics Bragg Medal in 2012 and the Royal Astronomical Society's Darwin Lectureship in 2015.

 

Her research interests span a broad range of topics. She has published extensively on the evolution of active galaxies and their life cycles, on the accretion of material near black holes and the launch and propagation of relativistic jets. She uses techniques from across the electromagnetic spectrum, both imaging and spectroscopy, as well as computational techniques.

 

 

 

 

 


Website: www.ras.org.uk




RAS Public Lecture: The Invisible Universe
Date: 13 Dec 2016
Time: 13:00

The Invisible Universe

Dr Jen Gupta, University of Portsmouth

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

 

Gazing at the night sky with our eyes or telescopes reveals twinkling stars and far away galaxies. But what we see is only a small part of the story. From radio waves to gamma-rays, the Universe is aglow with 'light' that we humans just cannot see.

Fortunately, we can build telescopes and instruments to detect this invisible light, revealing a view of the Universe that is hidden from our eyes. In this talk I will show you the Universe at other wavelengths, from familiar objects like our Sun to weird and wonderful distant quasars, and explain some of the physics behind them. Along the way I will touch on the stories of some of the pioneers in these areas of astronomy and astrophysics, who dedicated their careers to furthering our understanding of the invisible Universe.

 

Dr Jen Gupta is an astrophysicist and science communicator based in the south of England. She is the SEPnet/Ogden Outreach Officer for the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, where her job is to ensure that the department's world class research is shared with the wider world. She also works in the planetarium at the Winchester Science Centre, and is the host of the Seldom Sirius podcast. Jen did her PhD at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester where she studied radio-loud active galactic nuclei. She was highly commended in the 2015 Asian Women of Achievement Young Achievers Award, and is featured in the RAS's portrait series of female Fellows.




RAS Public Lecture: The Invisible Universe
Date: 13 Dec 2016
Time: 18:00

The Invisible Universe

Dr Jen Gupta, University of Portsmouth

(Venue: Royal Astronomical Society Lecture Theatre - booking opens 9th November, please email events@ras.org.uk for tickets)

 

Gazing at the night sky with our eyes or telescopes reveals twinkling stars and far away galaxies. But what we see is only a small part of the story. From radio waves to gamma-rays, the Universe is aglow with 'light' that we humans just cannot see.

Fortunately, we can build telescopes and instruments to detect this invisible light, revealing a view of the Universe that is hidden from our eyes. In this talk I will show you the Universe at other wavelengths, from familiar objects like our Sun to weird and wonderful distant quasars, and explain some of the physics behind them. Along the way I will touch on the stories of some of the pioneers in these areas of astronomy and astrophysics, who dedicated their careers to furthering our understanding of the invisible Universe.

 

Dr Jen Gupta is an astrophysicist and science communicator based in the south of England. She is the SEPnet/Ogden Outreach Officer for the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, where her job is to ensure that the department's world class research is shared with the wider world. She also works in the planetarium at the Winchester Science Centre, and is the host of the Seldom Sirius podcast. Jen did her PhD at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester where she studied radio-loud active galactic nuclei. She was highly commended in the 2015 Asian Women of Achievement Young Achievers Award, and is featured in the RAS's portrait series of female Fellows.




RAS Public Lecture: Exploring the Solar System with Robots
Date: 14 Feb 2017
Time: 13:00

Exploring the Solar System with Robots

Dr Chris Arridge, Lancaster University

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

 

More information to follow.




RAS Public Lecture: Exploring the Solar System with Robots
Date: 14 Feb 2017
Time: 18:00

Exploring the Solar System with Robots
Dr Chris Arridge, Lancaster University
(Venue: RAS Lecture Society - booking required - booking opens 09/01/2016)

 

More information to follow.

 




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 13/02/2017)

 

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.




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

ESA's Space Science and Exploration Missions

(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.




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

ESA's Space Science and Exploration Missions

(Venue: Royal Astonomical Society Lecture Theatre, booking required - booking opens 10 April 2017)

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.