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, 10th July 2015

Exoplanets: where are our alien neighbours?

A talk by Professor Don Pollacco

Cost: Non-members: £3

We live at a time where the discovery and characterisation of exoplanets seems routine. Here we will review the current state of the art and show the limitations of the data and the claims that are made from it. We will discuss the present population of habitual zone planets looking for the fabled earth 2. Finally, we will look ahead at new experiments and in particular the ESA M3 Mission PLATO which is designed to discover habitable zone terrestrial planets in the next decade

Friday, 9th October 2015

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

A talk by Professor John Brown

Cost: Non-members £3

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

A talk by Neil Breckell

Cost: Non-members: £3

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

A talk by Mark Kidger

Cost: Non-members £3

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


A talk by Bob Mizon MBE

Cost: Non-members £3

Friday, 11th March 2016


A talk by Dr Thomas Waters

Cost: Non-members: £3

Friday, 8th April 2016

Out of the Darkness - Pluto and the Outer Worlds

A talk by Andrew Lound

Cost: Non-members £3

Friday, 13th May 2016


A talk by Dr Dirk Froebrich

Cost: Non-members: £3

Friday, 10th June 2016

Confessions of an Astronomer

A talk by Professor Ian Robson

Cost: Non-members £3

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!