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RAS Meetings

The RAS holds regular monthly meetings from October to May covering all aspects of astronomy and solid-earth geophysics, planetary sciences and solar-terrestrial physics. Usually, a pair of Specialist Discussion meetings for Fellows are followed by a more general Astronomy & Geophysics ('Ordinary') meeting, open to the public, of which a number of the talks are available here Ordinary Meeting Videos.

These regular meetings are held on the second Friday of the month, normally in the RAS and Geological Society lecture theatres (both at Burlington House, London). A map to these locations can be found here, and webcasts/podcasts of a number of meetings are available.

E-bulletins summarising imminent meetings can be subscribed to freely.

Specialist Discussion Meetings cover all branches of astrophysics and solid-earth geophysics (including, but not limited to, cosmology, astrobiology, astrochemistry, astroparticle physics, computational astrophysics; geophysical fluid dynamics, planetary sciences, solar-terrestrial physics). If you would like to give a talk at a Specialist Discussion Meeting, please contact the Meeting Organizer.

'Astronomy & Geophysics' (A&G) meetings, also called Ordinary Meetings, have more diverse programmes of talks, at a level accessible to a general audience of scientists (and advanced amateurs).  If you would like to give a talk at an A&G Meeting, please contact the Senior Secretary.

N.B.: A&G Meetings are open to all, with free admission. Registration charges are levied for the February BGA meeting,  and for non-Fellows attending any RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting. 

Watch the transit of Mercury with the Royal Astronomical Society
Date: 9 May 2016
Time: 12:00

On 9 May 2016 a transit of Mercury will take place, when the planet passes directly between the Earth and the Sun. Transits are rare - this is the first event of its kind since 2006, and the first seen in the UK since 2003 – and after this the next ones are in 2019 and then 2032.


If the weather is clear, then the UK should enjoy a good view of the transit on 9 May. The whole event runs from 1212 BST to 1942 BST, when Mercury will appear as a slowly moving silhouetted disk against the bright solar surface. Because the planet is so small, it only blocks out a tiny part of the light of the Sun. This means it is impossible to see Mercury, and dangerous to try to observe it with the unaided eye, or using a telescope or binoculars without approved specially designed filters.


To allow the public to experience and observe the transit in safety, the RAS is running a special event in the courtyard of Burlington House. Experts will be on hand to operate telescopes with safe solar filters, and a projection device, to give people the chance to see the transit at first hand.


If you would like to come along, Society staff will be on hand from 1200 BST until at least 1600 BST, and probably until the Sun sets over our neighbouring buildings. The telescopes and equipment will be set up outside the Royal Academy.


As well as the live observing event, we will be hosting a live feed of the transit in the RAS lecture theatre, and a special mini-exhibition of Mercury materials in the RAS Library. Both of these rooms are located in our building on the opposite side of the courtyard to the telescopes.


For further information, please visit



Astrophysics and Astroparticle Physics in the CTA Era
Date: 13 May 2016
Time: 10:30

An RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by Paula Chadwick

(Durham), Garret Cotter (Oxford)

Contact: Paula Chadwick

Garret Cotter


The Cherenkov Telescope Array, CTA, will start construction in 2017. It will consist of 2 arrays of telescopes, one in the southern hemisphere and one in the northern hemisphere, which will observe the sky from a few 10s of GeV to 100s of TeV. CTA will be the first true observatory in this waveband, and as such offers opportunities to apply for observing time to astrophysicists across the world, including the UK. The science remit of CTA is wide, including active galactic nuclei, supernova remnants, pulsars, galaxy clusters, the detection of dark matter, the search for quantum gravitational effects and many other exciting topics. With a sensitivity and angular resolution at least 10 times better than any ground-based gamma-ray observatory before it, we expect CTA to transform our view of the high-energy universe. The aim of this meeting is to explore the possibilities for CTA in both astrophysics and astroparticle physics and to look at areas of overlap with other new facilities such as SKA and LSST.


10:30-11:00 An Introduction to the Cherenkov Telescope Array
Tim Greenshaw, University of Liverpool

11:00-11:30 X-ray Facilities in the CTA Era
Paul O'Brien, University of Leicester

11:30-12:00 The Next Generation of Optical-Infrared Telescopes
Isobel Hook, University of Lancaster

12:00-12:30 Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology with the New Radio Facilities
Matt Jarvis, University of Oxford

12:30-13:00 High Energy Cosmic Neutrinos: the Gamma-ray Connection
Subir Sarkar, University of Oxford

13:00-14:00 LUNCH

14:00-14:30 Gravitational wave observations: status and future plans
Sheila Rowan, University of Glasgow

14:30- 15:00 The Direct Search for Dark Matter
Chamkaur Ghag, University College, London

15:00-15:30 Discussion

15:30 TEA

Solar Flares: new insights from the lower atmosphere
Date: 13 May 2016
Time: 10:30

An RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by Mykola Gordovskyy

(Manchester), James McLaughlin (Northumbria), Sarah Matthews

(MSSL/UCL), Sergei Zharkov (Hull)


The structure of flaring atmospheres is determined by the magnetic fields and flows in the chromosphere and photosphere below. Solar flares, in turn, strongly affect the lower atmosphere, resulting in a wide range of flare-related effects with very complex dynamics. Interpreting these effects is essential for understanding magnetic energy build-up and release, as well as the topology and evolution of the coronal magnetic fields in solar flares. The aim of the meeting is to discuss flare-related phenomena in the lower atmosphere in the context of recent observations by Hinode, IRIS, SDO and SST, and future opportunities offered by DKIST. In particular, we will discuss:

- the photospheric magnetic field and its fine structure in flaring active regions,
- various types of helioseismic response in flares, and
- the small-scale structure and oscillations of the chromosphere during solar flares.

2016 AGM
Date: 13 May 2016
Time: 16:00

The AGM is only open to Fellows; non-Fellows intending to attend the following A&G meeting are welcome to wait in the Lower Library of the Geological Society.

RAS Ordinary Meeting
Date: 13 May 2016
Time: 17:00


Professor Martin A. Barstow (Leicester)
Diamonds in the Sky – The Importance of White Dwarfs in Modern Astrophysics



Please note that this meeting will follow the AGM (16:00 - 17:00, which is only open to Fellows).

AstroReach Meet
Date: 22 Jun 2016
Time: 10:00

The RAS will be holding an AstroReach Meet, where anyone involved in any form of outreach in Astronomy or Geophysics, whether it is for schools or the public, whether you do it professionally or as an occasional volunteer, is welcomed to the RAS for a day of networking and training. The day will include a talk from the National Autistic Society in making your workshops autism friendly, a teacher's panel, regional coffee meetings, showcases of some of the most innovative projects in the UK and the launch of the Annie Maunder Outreach Medal, along with an optional social in the evening.


The event is completely free. To register please follow this link.


Clare McLoughlin
Education, Outreach and Diversity Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Tel: 02072923962




    1. FEES: Admission to the Society's Monthly A&G (Ordinary) Meetings is open to all, at no charge. Admission to the Specialist Discussion Meetings is normally free to RAS members and £15 to non-members (£5 to students), collected on the door, while  GSL members may normally attend "G" meetings at no charge. Note that special rates apply for the February BGA meeting. RAS and GSL members should bring their membership cards, and students their student cards, as identification


    1. membership fees for those joining on the day.


    1. Coffee/registration for Specialist Discussion Meetings will commence a half-hour before the formal start time.


    1. Tea will be served before A&G meetings (15:30, at Geological Society Lecture Theatre, Burlington House) A drinks reception will follow A&G meetings, in the Burlington House apartments of Royal Astronomical Society.


    1. Copies of the detailed programme will be circulated, to those who have asked for them, approximately two weeks in advance of each meeting. Any member who does not already receive these details but wishes to do so should notify the Executive Secretary.


    1. Those wishing to make a contribution at a Specialist Discussion Meeting should contact the appropriate organizers.


    1. Contributions/Speakers for Monthly A&G (Ordinary) Meetings are most welcome, and should contact the Secretary or Executive Secretary.


    1. The Society welcomes suggestions for venues and topics for half- or one-day regional meetings; contact the Secretary or Executive Secretary.


  1. Detailed notes for organizers are available for reference.