Public Talks

Monthly Talks on Astronomical Topics of Interest

Monthly Public Talks

Our popular monthly talks are for members and the public to learn about some aspects of astronomy. These talks are aimed at ‘middle of the road’ level so the talk will appeal to members of the public with no prior knowledge, newcomers as well as those who have been interested in the subject for a number of years.

Topics from imaging the night sky, through to Cosmology, we invite speakers from all over the UK and the World.

We make a small charge on the door of £3.00 to cover our expenses

Our local venue:

Clanfield Memorial Hall,
South Lane,

If you wish to view this location on MultiMap please click here

All talks start at 7:45pm unless otherwise stated

Friday, 9th October 2015

Shedding Light on Supersonic Snowballs in Hell - the Physics of Close Comet-Sun Encounters

Talk by Professor John Brown: Astronomer Royal, Scotland

Cost: £3 for non-members

Ray Bootland Memorial Lecture

This month is the Ray Bootland Memorial Lecture. Professor Brown, the Astronomer Royal of Scotland, will deliver a talk for the UN Year of Light.

For further info about Prof Brown, please see his website at

Friday, 13th November 2015

The Storms of Jupiter

Neil Breckell

Cost: £3 for non-members

Neil will tell us about the Storms of Jupiter, with some mention of detecting the 21cm line of neutral hydrogen.

There will also be discussion of home-brew reflected radio reception and some kit to look at.

Friday, 11th December 2015

The Star of Bethlehem

Talk by Dr Mark Kidger

Cost: £3 for non-members

Dr. Kidger begins with the stories of early Christians, comparing Matthew's tale of the Star and the three Magi who followed it to Bethlehem with lesser-known accounts excluded from the Bible. Crucially, Dr. Kidger follows the latest biblical scholarship in placing Christ's birth between 7 and 5 B.C., which leads him to reject various phenomena that other scientists have proposed as the Star. In clear, colorful prose, he then leads us through the arguments for and against the remaining astronomical candidates. Could the Star have been Venus? What about a meteor or a rare type of meteor shower? Could it have been Halley's Comet, as featured in Giotto's famous painting of the Nativity? Or, as he suspects, was the Star a combination of events--a nova recorded in ancient Chinese and Korean manuscripts preceded by a series of other events, including an unusual triple conjunction of planets?

Friday, 8th January 2016



Friday, 11th March 2016

Solar sails: an exciting glimpse of the future?

Dr. Thomas Waters

Cost: £3 for non-members


Solar sails are a novel type of spacecraft which are attracting more and more attention both from the big space agencies and smaller private commercial firms. They are essentially large light-weight mirrors, and as sunlight reflects off the mirror it imparts a tiny force. This provides the solar sail with an essentially free supply of fuel, but also solar sails are capable of a whole new class of orbits which conventional spacecraft cannot access. This talk hopes to introduce the solar sail concept, discuss some of the current and proposed solar sail missions, and sketch some of the complex dynamics in an accessible (and equation free) way.

Friday, 8th April 2016

Out of the Darkness - Pluto and the Outer Worlds

Andrew Lound

Cost: £3 for non-members

Pluto’s discovery in 1930 seemed to be the epitome of planetary discovery in the solar system; yet it was just the beginning of a new era of planetary discovery. This presentation developed to commemorate the first space craft to visit Pluto will examine the outer worlds, the dwarf planets of ice in the Kuiper belt and beyond. Illustrated with the latest images of Pluto, artwork and video; accompanied by music. Take an Odyssey into the darkness.

Friday, 13th May 2016


A talk by Dr Dirk Froebrich

Cost: £3 for non-members

Friday, 10th June 2016

Confessions of an Astronomer

Professor Ian Robson

Cost: £3 for non-members

Professor Robson spent a decade as Director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and Joint Astronomy Centre on Hawaii and was appointed as both Honorary Professor of University of Edinburgh and Honorary Fellow of University of Central Lancashire.He is also the current President of the Society for Popular Astronomy (2014 - 2016).

This is a light-hearted look at the life of a professional astronomer; as well as the research and teaching, perhaps surprisingly, it can be packed with ‘interest’ in the widest sense of the word. The talk contains many amusing and exciting anecdotes; from being marooned with a steaming helium dewar in a cablecar in the Pyrenees, flying in an RAF Comet above the North Sea at 45,000 ft and to many exploits in Hawaii. The talk covers a wide range of astronomy, is lavishly illustrated and contains not a single equation!

Friday, 8th July 2016


A talk by Kimberley Birkett

Cost: £3 for non-members

Kimberley works with the Planetary Science group at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory.