Main Programme

Programme 2015-2016

All meetings start at 7.00pm in St. Peter’s Church Hall, Earley.
The AstroBASICS Friday meetings are now included in this listing.

If you are a speaker who would like to talk to the society or have a recommendation for a speaker or subject please email [email protected].

please note that some Friday Meetings are not wheelchair accessible

Introductory Meeting (doors open at 7pm)

Fri 4th Sep 7.30pm The first of our season’s AstroBASICS-FRIDAY meetings

Free entry and open to the public: A general introduction to amateur astronomy in its many forms, our Friday Club meetings will be basic level talks on astronomy suitable for all.

Astronomy Introduction

Entry is free and open to non-members.

Winch Room. Not wheelchair accessible.

This meeting is designed for the time of year when prospective new members are thinking of a new hobby or expanding a old interest. We will take you through all the factors that we obsess about. Mentioning the science and history along the way. All in just one hour? Let’s give it a go!

Then, coffee break and….

Other items of the activities of our members.
Location MapFull Programme

Although attended by our regular members this meeting is aimed at those who are considering the hobby, maybe for the first time. All welcome.

September 19th 2015

The Moon – close up!

DR Tony Cook (Aberystwyth University)

The Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter: Why Reconnaissance? It is intended to map the moon in order to make decisions about future landing sites. When, or whenever, this happens is still an open question. However its orbit has been adjusted from time to time, to orbit as close as 20 kms from the surface so the images have unprecedented detail.
The high resolution images and data from this mission gives us more information than ever before about the earth’s moon. We welcome back Dr Cook to Reading. He is an old friend and the society played a major part in developing his interest in astronomy as a young member. Much involved with amateur astronomy in the Lunar section of the BAA. Older members will remember his parents’ interest in TLP at a time when things on the moon were not supposed to be ‘transient’.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

September 28th Morning.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE, cloud permitting.

We will take advantage of our reserved dark site for a rare all-nighter of observing. Although the moon will be visible from anywhere in town, being at a dark site will allow you to see the change in the background stars as the light changes.

Here are the SKYmap timings….

Start of totality:     03:10:29
Maximum eclipse:  03:46:53
End of totality:       04:23:17

October 17th 2015

Wonders of the Cosmos

Jane Green (author, broadcaster, enthusiast)

With experience as a senior officer for a cruise line, cocktail parties soon became successful astronomical lectures. Now a professional speaker, author and broadcaster she shares her passion with packed audiences of all ages.  Jane notes it’s only 7 weeks since her talk at Maidenhead. Don’t worry the cosmos is big enough not to repeat too much!

After the coffee break…

Brian Skidmore, the most earthlike planet so far.

Plus the usual announcements and members activities.

23rd Oct Friday Club

Free entry and open to the public, this months topic…..

Exoplanets and the search for a second Earth

Brian Skidmore, (Reading AS)

Exoplanets are planets outside of our solar system that (usually) orbit other stars. To date nearly 2000 have been discovered and it’s clear that they come in a wide variety of types from ‘hot Jupiters’ to ‘super-Earths’ to ‘mini-Neptunes’. In this talk I’ll describe how these worlds are discovered and how astronomers are closing in on finding a planet that is like our own as well as what it might take to find out if it supports life.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.


November 21st 2015

Eclipses mean Travel.

David Phillips Intrepid Astronomy

David is highly experienced in astronomy tourism in all parts of the world. I shall treasure the memories of the long-drop latrines in French Polynesia which I am assured were dug personally by tonight’s guest. Of course David is also an amateur astronomer in his own right. Leave your credit cards at home.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

27th Nov Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

The technology of the telescope, from the simple astronomical amateur instrument to the major international collaborations the design of the telescope is always a compromise with the laws of physics. Our society member Wayne Young will explain the story.

With the return of the gift-giving season we always discuss telescopes and accessories at the November meeting.

December 12th 2015

(Nb. 2nd Saturday)

Santa’s Grotto

Members practical stuff

A telescope is for life not just for Christmas. Come and complain about not getting what you wanted for Christmas and drool over what the others are getting. Tea and cakes provided, no cash machine again this year.

Followed by RAS “Christmas Special” including glass of Vin d’Asda compliments of the committee.

18th Dec – Friday Club

Winch Room. Not wheelchair accessible.
Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

Big Observatories

Gerry will run through the progress and regress of the big observatories of the world. The reasons for their construction and the problems to be overcome. Fascinating story but do not switch on your headlights while within two miles!


As it’s Christmas – extended coffee break and nibbles. I have promised the hall manager that we will look after the carpet :-)

January 16th 2016

Research with High-Power Lasers

Dr Ceri Brenner STFC Central Laser Facility

Supernovae; There are some things in nature which cannot be studied in a laboratory, but with enough power, laser light can do extraordinary things with matter. Dr Brenner will talk on what might be known about the physics of these massive explosions.

Ceri Brenner is also Chair of the Thames Valley Branch of the British Science Association.

After the coffee break –

John Paraskeva has a project to construct a society spectroscope. We will learn the latest.

Members’ Talks and images.

22nd Jan – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this months topic…..


February 20th 2016

Jupiter and imaging

Damian Peach (Planetary imager)

Damian’s planetary images are famous. And can be found published by many of the popular astronomy magazines. Damian’s interest in Jupiter is focussed(!) by his desire to obtain better and better images of the planet. Tonight’s talk will be on Jupiter, but the questions at the end are guaranteed to be about obtaining the images.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

26th Feb – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic (subject change)…..

The best time of the year

For observing in early evening this is the richest and most intriguing time to be observing in the northern hemisphere. We will explain why and what the multitude of easy celestial objects are telling us about the universe.

Fri 11th, Sat 12th March

British Science Week Observing Evenings

Location, TBN

British Science Week is 11-20th March and we hope to be involved in joint events. The 11/12th are nights of ‘young moon’ so easy lunar observing is possible any evening that week.

March 19th 2016

Two Eyes Are Better Than One!

Stephen Tonkin FRAS (The Binocular Sky)

Let’s scale back the technology and see what binoculars can do. Steve will demonstrate the methods of observing and mounting ‘optics for two eyes’ and the objects that are sometimes only well observed with binoculars.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

1st  April – Friday Club

Winch Room. Not wheelchair accessible.

Beware the Poisson d’Avril

Entry is free and open to the public, this months topic…..

Our usual date is Good Friday and the hall will not be available, so this is the planned date for the March meeting. Well it’s close enough.

For the 1st April we will have a trawl around the internet and other places to find the best historical hoaxes in astronomy.


April 16th 2016

The Origins of Science.

Mike Gilbert (WEA course lecturer)

Mike is a historian and in this talk we hear of the development of modern science – and the scientific method – from the earliest days.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

22nd Apr – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..


9th May – Reminder – Transit of Mercury

This event is visible all afternoon

May 21st 2016

New Horizons at Pluto

Dr Mike Leggett FRAS (Milton Keynes AS)

Pluto NASA colour July 8

This image of Pluto received on July 8. NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

After nine years NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will pass through the outer edges of the solar system. gathering the first close up observations of Pluto and the most distant objects in the solar system. We are currently (July 8) watching the images from New Horizons as the probe hurtles past remote Pluto. Mike’s talk will use the latest data in this presentation on the outer solar system.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

27th May – Friday Club

Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

Transit of Mercury


Sunday ??st June 12noon-6pm

Reading Astronomical Society stand.

Exhibition and solar observing.

We will be attending this annual local event with our telescopes suitably filtered for safe observing of sunspots and other activity on our local star.

Images of last year’s event.


June 18th 2016

AGM Night

An enticing speaker selected nearer the date!!

Including the 43rd Annual General Meeting
No Friday Meeting this month

Possible open air meeting at a rural site. Details will be sent to email subscribers [email protected]


The venue is St. Peter’s Church Hall, Church Road, Earley.Parking is available in the hall car park and the adjacent school playground.7.00 – 8.30pm :: Announcements and speaker as detailed above.8.30 – 9.00pm :: Refreshments and an opportunity to chat and browse the library.9.00 – 9.45pm :: Miscellany of topics by members.



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