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These are the events which were organised in 2011 for Friends of the RAS

 

 
'40 years of Supercool Astronomy' - A talk by Professor Ian Robson (Royal Observatory, Edinburgh)

Thursday 27 Jan 2011 13:00-14:00

A personal reflection of the development of submillimetre astronomy, a field the UK has spearheaded. The talk will be fully illustrated along with personal anecdotes and show how technology has changed the game and subsequently how 'doing astronomy' has changed dramatically for the observational astronomer over this period. Following the half hour session there will be a reception during which Professor Robson will be free to answer more questions.

 

 

'Red Sprites - the Hunt for an Elusive Upper Atmospheric Optical Phenomenom' - A talk by Peter McLeish (Montreal)
Tuesday 22 March 2011 13:00-14:30

For over a century people have reported strange lights in the night sky associated with thunderstorms. Only in 1989 were images captured - no mean achievement when the blink of an eye last 250 milliseconds and sprites often last only 10.

Peter McLeish is a filmmaker who created the artwork for two videos about Sprites made by former President of the American Meteorological Society, Walter Lyons. He will present and show these films and describe how the public can become engaged in the search for new thunderstorm related electrical phenomena.

 

 

'The Origin of Origins' - A talk by Dr Francisco Diego (Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, UCL)
Wednesday 30 March 2011 13:00-14:00

The Origin of Origins, the amazing story of the Universe:
Starting with its basic primordial conditions Dr Diego will explain how a few forces and simple rules have put together something well beyond our comprehension.... for the time being. Following this he invites you to share your thoughts about the science of creation - and beyond ( myths, superstition, religion and philosophy -but not too deep!).

Francisco Diego is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Physics and Astronomy University College London and a keen populariser of astronomy (currently through the Science and Technology Facilities Council's funded 'The Mind of the Universe' project) .

This is one a series of meetings for 'Friends of the RAS' where, following a short lecture, over a drink and nibble you can discuss topics with distinguished scientists

 

 

'Unravelling Starlight; William and Margaret Huggins and the Rise of the New Astronomy' - A book launch by Dr Barbara J. Becker, University of California, Irvine
Thursday 26 May 2011 18:00-19:30

A long felt gap in the literature of the History of Astronomy has been an adequate account of the pioneering work of Sir William and Lady Huggins in analysing stellar spectra, which laid the foundations for Stellar Astrophysics. Dr Barbara Becker has now filled this gap with her new book which was published by Cambridge University Press in February. The book is both a chronicle of scientific achievement and of a touching human story. This 'post launch' celebration will give an opportunity to meet the author. It is hoped that copies will be available for purchase and Dr Becker will be willing to sign them.

Programme:
1800-1830 Guests arrive and meet author
1830 Brief introduction by Librarian
1830-1900 Talk by Dr Becker 'Unravelling Starlight'
1900-1930 Light refreshments
1930 Close

 

 

Visit to Hampstead Observatory
Saturday 18 June

We have arranged an interesting programme with the Hampstead Scientific Society. This will include a demonstration and talk about their telescope, and a visit to John Harrison's tomb (inventor of the marine chronometer.)

Programme:

1130 Meet at Hampstead Underground Station to walk leisurely up to the Observatory to arrive by noon. For those going independently, please check the Hampstead Scientific Society website for directions www.hampsteadscience.ac.uk

1300 Lunch at the Holly Bush (5 minutes walk away - for those who have booked places)

After lunch there will be a 5 minute walk to the church to visit John Harrison's tomb

 

 

'Discoverers of the Universe; William and Caroline Herschel' - Dr Michael Hoskin
Thursday 23 June 18:00-19:30

 There has not been an adequate biography of William and Caroline Herschel published for many years. Dr Michael Hoskin has now filled that gap; in a long lifetime of research in the History of Astronomy, including editing and publishing 'Journal for the History of Astronomy' from its inception in 1970, the lives and work of the Herschels has been a major thread, covered partly in several previous books, and this work, written with the active co-operation of the Herschel family, is surely the definitive statement on the subject. The book, published recently by Princeton University Press, is both a chronicle of scientific achievement and of a complex human relationship. This 'post launch' celebration will give an opportunity to meet the author. It is hoped that copies will be available for purchase and Dr Hoskin will be willing to sign them.

1800-1830 Guests arrive and meet author
1830 Brief introduction by Librarian
1830-1900 Talk by Dr Hoskin 'Discoverers of the Universe'
1900-1930 Light refreshments
1930 Close

 

 

'The Observatory as Architectural Object' - A talk by the RAS Librarian Peter Hingley
Wednesday 6 July 2011 13:00-14:00

 

Historic Observatories can actually be quite standardised in form, the smaller ones conforming over the years to two main patterns which allow the structure to fulfil the requirements imposed by the instruments contained. Others have been designed in more imaginative and varied ways and indeed some Observatories can be regarded as a species of Folly. Some private observatories made substantial scientific contributions but many did not, being mainly used for ' fun' by their proud owners and their friends.

Modern Observatory buildings are (mainly) engineering structures rather than architecture as such, so the survey will end with the building of the Mount Palomar Observatory. Parallels can be drawn with Windmills and Lighthouses. The speaker will also describe some of the conservation problems which can arise from restoration without astronomical knowledge, and talk about ways of identifying supposed old Observatories as Astronomical buildings.

This is one a series of meetings for 'Friends of the RAS' where, following a short lecture, over a drink and nibble you can discuss topics with distinguished scientists.

 

 

'"One day, Sir, you may tax it": Why Society Needs Cosmology' - A talk by Dr Roberto Trotta (Imperial College London)
Wednesday 21 September 2011 13:00-14:00

Faraday's famous reply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when quizzed about the practical value of electricity in 1850, encapsulates the need for blue sky research even and especially at times of financial hardship. Advanced societies cannot afford to stifle the most powerful drive of technological and social progress, namely scientifc curiosity for its own sake. In this talk I will argue that fundamental research in cosmology is a luxury humankind cannot do without, discussing how the cultural, technological and scientific returns of such an enteprise far outweigh the (relatively small) costs. Illuminating and richly illustrated examples from the past and current centuries will also be presented.

This is one a series of meetings for 'Friends of the RAS' where, following a short lecture, over a drink and nibble you can discuss topics with distinguished scientists

 

 

'Seeing the Invisible: Observing the Dark Side of the Universe' - A talk by Dr Sarah Bridle (University College London)
Wednesday 19 October 2011 13:00-14:00

It seems that most of the universe is made up of mysterious ingredients which we cannot see directly. This lecture will describe in pictures "gravitational lensing", the bending of light by gravity, which is predicted by Einstein's General Relativity. The dark components of the universe do not emit or absorb light, but do exert a gravitational attraction, and it turns out that gravitational lensing is one of the most promising methods for finding out more about them. This is very similar to looking through a bathroom at streetlamps outside, and using the distorted images to learn about the patterns in the glass. This lecture will review the current observations and the upcoming surveys.

This is one a series of meetings for 'Friends of the RAS' where, following a short lecture, over a drink and nibble you can discuss topics with distinguished scientists