Programme 2014-2015

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 12th 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.

September 20th 2014


Andrew Lound (Odyssey Dramatic Presentations)

Venus is a world that has been viewed in numerous ways, firstly as an ocean paradise, the planet of love, perhaps even two worlds one in the morning and one in the evening. Now we know it is one world – a hot corrosive world. Andy provides an entertaining history of the planet illustrated by awesome images spanning over 100 years of observation by telescope and space probe. The images and HD Video are accompanied by a very special arrangement of music that envelopes the audience. Who said science isn’t romantic?

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

October 18th 2014

Gamma Ray Astronomy

Barry Kellett (Rutherford Appleton Lab)

This meeting and next month’s deal with two parts of the spectrum important to astronomers. This month the most energetic particles, Gamma Rays, and the efforts to detect them with the little-known Pierre Auger Observatory based in Argentina. A pretty impressive project in terms of size: Barry

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

24th Oct - Friday Club

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

Solar Max A beginners talk on all aspects of the sun. No surprise but the sun is rather important to our lives and survival. We are assured that the next billion years or so will not give us a problem, but what then?

November 15th 2014

The Square Kilometre Array

Matt Jarvis (Oxford University Dept of Physics)

After last month’s talk on gamma ray particles at the high end of the frequency spectrum it is now the turn of radio waves. The SKA is the major advance in radio astronomy and will give resolutions rivalling visual telescopes. It would detect an airport radar at many light years distance and its data gathering would need 100 million PCs.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

28th 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 13th 2014

(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.

19th Dec – Friday Club

This meeting will be in the Winch Room upstairs so will not be wheelchair accessible.
Entry is free and open to the public, this month’s topic…..

The hidden sky. What lies below the southern horizon and will include a description of our Milky Way environment and how the view of the constellations has been described by past civilizations.

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

January 17th 2015

Members’ Talks

Scott Marley (Space and Science Education)

Scott recently completed a few weeks conducting public observing in the Namib Rand National Park.
He will recount his experiences of the environment and nature as well as the astronomy.


After the coffee break:
John Paraskeva (BASS Yahoo!group)

John is dedicated to spectroscopy and will describe equipment and techniques he and other amateurs can use, and the results achieved.
(Spectroscopy will be the topic of the February Friday meeting with John contributing)

Plus other short contributions.

23rd Jan – Friday Club

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

The Orion Nebula and the birth, growth and eventual fate of star clusters in general. They really do hold the key to understanding the universe.

Placeholding text

February 21st 2015

Space Robotics

Hilde Schroeven-Deceuninck (Robotic Exploration Development Coordinator at European Space Agency)

ESA’s UK centre ECSAT is based at Harwell and Hilde’s talk will be on robotic exploration of space and the earth’s environment.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

27th Feb – Friday Club

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


The evening starts with a talk about the history and impotance of this subject, including an explanation of how stars came to be described in the weird colour sequence OBAFGKMRNS.

The second half will be with John Paraskeva trying a demonstration of practical amateur techniques for getting a spectrum from a star.

Fri 13th, Sat 14th March

British Science Week Observing Evenings

London Road Campus (NEW LOCATION)

For two evenings, Friday and Saturday, we will be doing our astronomical best for the British Science Association.

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


March 21st 2015

Space and atmospheric electricity

Dr Chris Scott – (Department of Meteorology, University of Reading)

With 250,000 volt different between earth’s surface and ionosphere it is no surprise that sparks in the form of lightning jump the gap so often. About 1000 thunderstorms and rain clouds are continuously active around the globe, coupled with the highly variable rain of solar particles, and cosmic rays from beyond the solar system, interacting with earth’s magnetic field makes a fascinating and important area of study.

In conjunction with National Science and Technology Week.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities which might even be images of lightning over Lower Earley.

27th Mar – Friday Club

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

Jupiter by Jove, Brian Skidmore (ReadingAS)

The solar system viewed from afar could be described as the Sun and Jupiter, plus a few other bits and bobs.

Jupiter will be in our skies until early summer having passed opposition on Feb 6. We have had good opportunities to observe this planet which is a great object for beginners so Brian has been invited to talk about the science and history of this dominant object of the solar system.


April 18th 2015james fradgley

Some questions, here and there…

James Fradgley (Wessex Astronomical Society)

James offers an evening of short talks and questions.

1. How Discs are made. One of the most common questions when discussing stellar formation.
2. Goldilocks Planets. The number of possible known exoplanets is now around 2000 but what do they need for life?
3. Laplace resonances, satellites of Jupiter being good examples.
4. Complementing the society’s recent talks on spectroscopy James will revise that notorious stellar classes mnemonic.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

24th Apr – Friday Club

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

Lyrids Meteor Shower. Hopefully we have been out to our dark site and seen some of these meteors a day or so before. Moon conditions are good.
The talk will be on the history of this and meteor showers in general.

May 16th 2015

Achievements of UK amateur astronomers

Guy Hurst (BAA and Editor: The Astronomer)

Review of observing achievements and discoveries by amateur astronomers from the Herschel Family to the modern day.

After the coffee break the usual announcements and members activities.

22nd May – Friday Club

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

Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. A medium-sized or larger telescope will allow you to see Saturn’s rings and a few of its brightest moons.


Sunday June 14th 2015 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 20th 2015

Sun-grazing Comets

Kenelm England (Society for the History of Astronomy)

Sungrazer comets were some of the earliest observed comets because they can appear very bright. Some are even considered Great Comets. The close passage of a comet to the sun will brighten the comet not only because the reflection off of the comet nucleus brightens when it is closer to the sun, but the sun also vaporizes a large amount of gas from the comet and the gas reflects more light.

Followed by 42nd Annual General Meeting
No Friday Meeting this month

Possible open air meeting at a rural site. 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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