Main Programme


Programme 2016-2017

All meetings start at 7.00pm in St. Peter’s Church Hall, Earley.
The open FridayCLUB 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 9th Sep 7.30pm The first of our season’s FreeFRIDAY 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.
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 17th 2016

Comets, Signposts in History

Andrew Lound (Odyssey Productions)lound

The appearance of a comet in the sky was seen by our ancestors as a forewarning of disaster. Today in these enlightened times the appearance of a comet fills us full of wonder not dread. However perhaps the reality should be somewhere in between. In a presentation filled with excitement, tragedy and humour the story of humankind’s relationship with comets is explored, illustrated by images of comets, with some haunting music, you will never look at ice in the same way again.



After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

October 22nd 2016 – This is the 4th Saturday

Aurorae: Their appearance, legends and causes

Ian Ridpath

Ian_Ridpath_in_2015Ian has made outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. Any purchaser of popular astronomy books and sky guides is likely to have one of Ian’s works on their bookshelves. This talk is based on his experience as guide for numerous cruise-ship trips to Norway.

Aurorae, popularly termed the northern lights, are one of the wonders of the natural world. Long the subject of Nordic legend, they are now known to be triggered by atomic particles flowing from the Sun. Accelerated by the Earth’s magnetic field, these particles cascade onto the upper atmosphere around the poles, causing it to glow green and red. This talk describes what aurorae look like, the legends and superstitions associated with them, how and where they occur, and how to watch for them. Inspired by TV programmes such as Joanna Lumley’s, many from Britain are now venturing into the Arctic to see these natural wonders for themselves. This talk has been developed specially to introduce the astounding northern lights to this new generation of tourists.

After the coffee break…

Plus the usual announcements and members activities.

28th Oct Friday Club

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

Cosmology: The Big Bang and All That

Brian Skidmore, (Reading AS)

Brian is an enthusiast for cosmology with a thirst for continuing education. In this talk he’ll discuss the Big Bang and why astronomers are confident that the Universe is 13.8 billion years old.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

November 19th 2016

Glows, Bows and Haloes

Richard Fleet (Newbury AS) and

Optical Effects in Air, Water and Ice

Richard is one of the most dedicated amateurs in Berkshire – for all aspects of astronomy – but is also noted for an abiding interest in optical phenomenon in the atmosphere. We promise a fascinating evening of imagery including amazing time-lapsed sequences of cloud and light.

“Those who aren’t aware of the variety of natural optical effects can easily miss some of the most amazing sights in nature.”

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

25th Nov Friday Club

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

Telescopes, technology versus handicraft?

Wayne Young (Reading AS)

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

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. Wayne is working on new ways of presenting the subject. Don’t forget: Don’t buy a telescope without a sound knowledge of the compromises you have to make, and I am not even thinking of the rest of the family! 🙂


December 10th 2016

(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.

30th Dec – Friday Club

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

The Winter Sky

The view in the next few weeks is dominated by Orion and Taurus. W e will look at the objects in this most interesting region.

Free mince pie for the early arrivals!!

January 21st 2017

Robotic Exploration of Mars

Craig Leff (UCL, Mullard SSL)

The first mission of the ExoMars programme, scheduled to arrive at Mars in October 2016, consists of a Trace Gas Orbiter plus an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, known as Schiaparelli. The main objectives of this mission are to search for evidence of methane and other trace atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA’s contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.

After the coffee break – Members’ Talks and images.

27th Jan – Friday Club

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

Alchemy and the origin of elements

John Paraskeva

John is the society’s spectroscopy specialist so this talk will cover the identification of elements in stars as well as nucleosynthesis, the creation of the elements.  In 1814 a curious glassmaker noticed features in the light emitted by gas flames. This was the first moment man realised that colour was the clue to finding what stars are made of.

February 18th 2017

Change: Colin Snodgrass has postponed due to important research committments.

We are hoping to include the VR tour of Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko later in the year.

CCDs from the Early Days

George Sallit (Southend Bradfield Observatory)

George is well know to Reading and Newbury societies being one of the most active observers in our region and has been credited with discovery of an asteroid back in 1996. Tonight’s talk will concentrate on the history and current science of electronic imaging having completely replaced chemical photography in recent years.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

24th Feb – Friday Club

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

Eclipses – what astounding luck!

Gerry Bond (eclipse chaser)

Two days after on 26th February there is an annular solar eclipse over the S Atlantic and exactly six lunar months later there is a total eclipse over the USA. It is time to revive the talk on eclipses and examine all the details, astronomical and cultural around this most amazing phenomenon of nature.

After the break….

Members’ activities and talks

Saturday 25th Feb – Full day meeting

10am to 5pm  Lunch to be arranged.

Imaging instruction and demonstrations

The whole day will be devoted to imaging and processing. We will be running it in the same format as our first imaging summer school. We will be covering the acquisition of the images,not necessarily talking of specific kit but basically DSLR and CCD then going into all the aspects of processing the images.


Sat 11th March

British Science Week 2017
Join the Reading Astronomical Society at

London Road Campus of University of ReadingRAS observing session

6.30pm ’til 9pm.

Moon observing – weather permitting.

In the main quad garden.

An Evening of astronomy talks.

In room L22

Wed March 15th

External talk of some interest….

Cafe Scientifique.

Wednesday 15th March BSA Science Week meeting in Smokin Billy’s, 61 St Mary’s Butts, Reading, RG1 2LG
Dr Jena Meinecke: Exploring the Origins of the Universe with Giant Lasers
Time: 7:30pm (doors open 6:45pm) FREE entry, all ages welcome

March 18th 2017

Image: ShropshireAS

Image: ShropshireAS

Around the Universe in 40 minutes

Grant Privett   (Shropshire Astronomical Society)

Grant is a long-time amateur observer and we are looking forward to his impressions of the deep-sky.

The Universe is a big place. Really big. And despite being mainly, well, empty space, contains a lot of stuff  that’s worth a look.  Its easy to overlook some parts, obsess over other parts, and never get round to looking at everything. So this talk is a quick reminder of what’s out there and why astronomy really is the Best Hobby.



After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

24th March – Friday Club

The Planets – all NINE?

Kenelm England (SHA and ReadingAS)

Ken’s personal style applied to the solar system’s current incumbents.

After the break…

Stellar construction.

Rob Peeling (ReadingAS)

What is a star, for beginners.

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

BAA Winchester Weekend. Apr7th -9th 2017

The annual conference attended by many local astronomers.

April 22nd 2017 (fourth Saturday)

Bob Mizon at Astrofest 2017

Bob Mizon at Astrofest 2017

Seven Moons

Bob Mizon (Mizar Travelling Planetarium)

Bob is well known to amateur astronomers as a long-time member of Wessex Astronomical Society and national coordinator of the Commission for Dark Skies. This talk is titled ‘Seven Moons: seven weird and wonderful moons of the solar system’.

Bob has been a teacher in France as well as the UK. His travelling planetarium is often in use in schools and exhibitions around the country.

28th Apr – Friday Club

Doors open 7pm.  Talk at 7.30

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

Jupiter Night!

Gerry Bond (@gwb007)

70% of the solar system rotating around the sun, is Jupiter. We are lucky to have it that way. If it were larger another star would be a distict embarrassment.
Jupiter passes the meridian about 2330 tonight. Let’s find all the details of the history and science of this planet.

After the break…

Kenelm England – probes around Jupiter

members activities.

May 20th 2017callumpotter

Deep-Sky Observing

Callum Potter (Shropshire Astronomical Society and AstronomyNOW contributor)

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

26th May – Friday Club

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

Subject TBN

June 17th 2017

AGM Night

Berkshire Astronomers

Ken England (Society for History of Astronomy)

Including the Annual General Meeting

June 24th 2017

Out of town meeting at the
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution

Full details on this page


Sunday 25th June

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.


Friday meetings in June/July/August may continue at our regular observing site*.

Total solar eclipse visible in USA may be observed as a partial eclipse starting 30 minutes before sunset from Reading, but a low west-horizon is essential.

Summer meetings are arranged for members on the following dates. All will be indoors with the possibility of talks and refreshments

Friday 30th June. Moon 1st Q. Bar open 7-10pm.

Friday 28th July. Moon 1.4 days before 1st Q. Bar open 7-10pm.

Saturday 12 August. Perseid meteor peaks tonight.

Friday 25th August. Moon 3 days before 1st Q.

*The site is on private land, new members please ask for directions and other details.

The venue is St. Peter’s Church Hall, Church Road, Earley.

Parking is available in the hall car park.

Typical meeting timings are….

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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