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, 8th July 2016

Mercury: New views of the Sun’s innermost planet

A talk by Professor David Rothery

Cost: £3 for non-members

Many questions remain for ESA’s BepiColombo to answer ten years from now, but thanks to NASA’s MESSENGER (orbiting Mercury March 2011-March 2015) we now know far more about the closest planet to the Sun than was possible from ground-based astronomy and the Mariner-10 flybys in the 1970s. Mercury is a rocky planet with a disproportionately large iron core. The outer core is molten, and dynamo processes there generate a magnetic field (unique among the terrestrial planets apart from Earth).  It has a rich and dynamic exosphere. The surface is poor in iron but perplexingly rich in volatile elements such as S, K, Na and Cl, and there is widespread evidence of explosive volcanic eruptions (mostly more than 3 billion years ago, but extending into the past billion years) that must be driven by expanding volatiles. Such volatile abundance is hard to reconcile with models for Mercury’s origin that call for much of its primordial rocky fraction to have been stripped away, possibly in a giant impact. The first crust to form from the resulting magma ocean may have been made of graphite, the only mineral able to float in Mercury’s low-density, iron-poor, magma ocean. Thermal contraction of the planet has led to widespread development of ‘lobate scarps’ at the surface that have taken up at least 7 km of radial contraction. The most recent macroscopic process to sculpt the surface (other than ongoing impact cratering) is the formation of ‘hollows’ – occurring as fields of steep-sided, flat-bottomed depressions tens of metres deep where a surface layer has been removed, seemingly by some sort of sublimation process. The volatiles involved may be sulfides.

Friday, 14th October 2016


A talk by TBA

Cost: £3 for non-members

Ray Bootland Memorial Lecture

Friday, 11th November 2016


A talk by Dr Chris North

Cost: £3 for non-members

Dr Chris North is well known to many people from his appearances on The Sky at Night.

He is a researcher based at Cardiff University, focussing on the SPIRE instrument on Herschel Space Observatory.   He is also a member of the team behind Chromoscope (

Friday, 9th December 2016

Herschel’s Incredibly Cool Universe

A talk by Dr Chris Pearson

Cost: £3 for non-members

The Herschel Space Observatory was launched in 2009 and was the largest telescope ever put into space. The UK held a major share in the mission, assembling and testing one of the key instruments called SPIRE. Herschel looks at our Universe in infrared light, illuminating young stars being born and entire galaxies in the process of creation. I will introduce the Herschel mission, explaining why it was so important to astronomy and lead you through the story of our infrared Universe as seen by Herschel. We will travel from the distant reaches of the observable Universe looking at the cradles of creation, through spectacular images of our own Galaxy, right to the doorstep to our very own Solar System and the components that went into making life on Earth.

Dr Pearson's PhD was in “Galaxy Evolution and Cosmology" with Prof. Michael Rowan-Robinson Imperial College, London.

He has worked on cosmological galaxy surveys at infrared wavelengths for both ground based telescopes and space borne missions. He worked for 7 years in Japan on the AKARI space telescope before moving to the UK to RAL Space to work on the SPIRE instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory where he leads the team that produces all the nice maps from SPIRE .

Friday, 10th February 2017

Isaac Newton and the Surrey Pumas

A talk by Mike Frost, BAA Historical Section Director

Cost: £3 for non-members

An offbeat look at Newton's theory of gravity - featuring hollow Earths, counter-Earths Trojan asteroids, Kirkwood gaps, Lagrangian nodes, the three-body problem, and those mysterious beasts rumoured to haunt Surrey playing fields and Bodmin Moor. 

A quirky talk this month, delivered by the BAA Historical Section Director. Mike has previously delivered this talk on two continents!


Friday, 10th March 2017

Title TBC

A talk by Michael Maunder

Cost: £3 for non-members

Friday, 21st April 2017


A talk by Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Cost: £3 for non-members

The talk details are to be confirmed.

Please note that this talk is on the 3rd Friday, not the usual 2nd Friday.

Friday, 9th June 2017

Title TBC

A talk by Dr Aprajita Verma

Cost: £3 to non-members

Dr Verma, from Oxford University, is part of the team working on the European Extremely Large Telescope.