Programme 2013-2014

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 infoatreadingastrodotorgdotuk  (infoatreadingastrodotorgdotuk)  .

Introductory Meeting (doors open at 7pm)

Fri 13th 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, our Friday Club meetings will be basic level talks on astronomy suitable for all.

Exceptionally, this meeting is upstairs without wheelchair access.

September 21st 2013

SOFIA: Astronomy from B747

Dr Rhodri Evans (Cardiff University)

My main area of research is extra-galactic astronomy. For the past 16 years I have been involved in airborne astronomy, and am part of the team building the facility far-infrared camera for SOFIA. I also do research in star-formation and cosmology. I am a regular contributor to TV, radio and public lectures. I also do a blog – which is sometimes about astronomy. You can find out more about me on my Facebook page.

October 19th 2013

we extend our thanks to owen for stepping at a late stage as replacement speaker.

Galaxy Clusters

Owen Brazell (The Webb Society)

Due to the indisposition of Matt Jarvis Owen has stepped into the breach as our main guest speaker.The talk on Galaxy Clusters will be about the universe at the largest scales, so be prepared to imagine some very large numbers. Owen is well known to members of the society and his matter of fact style and extensive knowledge always results in a fascinating evening.

25th Oct - Friday Club

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

Current Comets, and the Winter Sky. Now is the time to dress up warmly and get outside for observing. This talk will orientate you and explain the major sights in the sky in the coming months.

November 16th 2013

Galaxies and Black Holes

Roger Davies (Oxford University, Dept. of Physics)

My research aim is to advance our understanding of cosmology and the evolution of galaxies by developing new techniques and instruments. My contributions span cosmology: the distance scale, large scale motions of galaxies and galaxies at high redshift; galaxy evolution: dynamics, stellar populations and galaxy clusters; and telescopes, instruments & techniques.+

22nd 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.

December 14th 2013

(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”

20th Dec - Friday Club

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

The Winter Solstice is the day after this meeting. Although that is the shortest day sunrise is still coming later for a few days. We will try to understand what is going on with the aid of planetarium programmes.

January 18th 2014

Members’ Talks

Black holes and the Theory of Relativity

Brian Skidmore (Reading AS) will repeat a talk he gave for his company’s Christmas Lecture event.

It will contain an explanation of relativity, leading on to black-holes, and culminating in the possible outcome of falling into one.
Followed, after the break, by shorter talks from….
Kenelm England (Reading AS and Society for History of Astronomy)
Tim Haymes: Tim manages the UKoccultations yahoogroup which is the main source for UK observers to coordinate occultation observations.
 And others.
24th Jan - Friday Club

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

Stellar Magnitudes and Classification.

How bright are the stars? The ancients used common sense to devise a system of star classification. We glibly call this a star’s magnitude, but what is the system all about?

February 15th 2014

Space Exploration: Human versus Robot

Dr Hugh Mortimer (RAL)

Does the reward of human exploration of space outweigh the high costs and high risks associated with it and do the capabilities of technologies such as rovers, planetary landers and satellites remove the need for humans to ever venture into space. This talk will give an historical insights into why the curiosity of humanity has lead us to space and will discuss where the future of space exploration is heading.

28th Feb - Friday Club

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

Spectroscopy. with John Paraskeva.

Since the 1860s light coming to us from even the farthest reaches of the universe and from the beginning of time can be analysed using spectroscopic techniques. Prior to that time the thought that anyone could know what stars are made of was thought ridiculous. John will describe the history, science and practice of this vital aspect of astronomy.

John Paraskeva moderates a Yahoo!group for amateur astronomers who use spectroscopes, together with specialised software, to analyse the light of distant objects. John is a member of Reading AS

March 15th 2014

The Search for Gravity Waves

Prof Mike Cruise (Gravitational Physics Group, University of Birmingham)

Perhaps gravitational waves are the final remaining test for Einstein’s General Relativity. Although their existence has been inferred from observations of pulsars and similar massive objects, detecting them on Earth demands measurement of extraordinary small changes in the fabric of spacetime.

March 22nd/23rd 2014

National Science Week

Museum of English Rural Life

These two evenings, Saturday and Sunday, we will be at MERL doing our astronomical best for the British Science Association.

Light polluted but Moon-free Jupiter will be the main attraction.

28th Mar - Friday Club

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

The spring equinox is a good time to study the history of the calendar. The daily demands of measuring time mixed with a bit of religion and politics.

April 12th 2014 (second Saturday)

Introduction to Cosmology

Howard Parkin (Chairman IOM Astronomical Society)

Howard is well known as a contributor to cruise-ship entertainment with astronomy talks but is also dedicated to fostering astronomy on the Isle of Man.

25th Apr - Friday Club

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

There is an annular eclipse in 4 days after this meeting. We won’t see it here but let us explain eclipses and why some spend a fortune ‘following’ the moon’s shadow.

May 17th 2014

Exoplanets and Exomoons

Jakub Bochinski(Lecturer – Open University)

A talk called “From pole to pole: A short tale of extrasolar planets and how we find them”, which showcases different methods used by different groups throughout the globe to search for these fascinating new worlds. Finishing with a live demonstration of our remotely controlled, Mallorca based PIRATE telescope, currently working as an exoplanetary follow-up instrument (depending on the weather).

23rd May - Friday Club

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

The Moon. Moonlight is the enemy of deep sky observers but the story of the origin is still a mystery. We look at the moon in scientific detail and how people throughout history have regarded it.

June 21st 2014


Paul Eccelstone (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory)

Followed by 41st Annual General Meeting
No Friday Meeting this month

Possible open air meeting at a rural site on 27th June 2014 (new moon). Details will be sent to email subscribers infoatreadingastrodotorgdotuk


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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