Here you’ll find brief reports of the talks we’ve heard at Society meetings. In these we try to include any web links or other pointers to further information that were provided by the speaker at the meeting. If you were at one of our meetings and would like to correct or expand the report relating to it then please email our webmaster.
Chris Lintott was unable to visit us as he was on La Palma, so Tony Sizer stepped into the gap at short notice, and gave us an informative and entertaining talk entitled Violent Universe.
The Universe is not as benign to life as many people think. From the moment we are born it is attempting to kill us. There are several examples of what might be called “Weapons of Mass Destruction” which the Universe might employ against us.
“Things That Go Bump”, i.e. things which might collide with the Earth, include meteorites and asteroid. Collisions with such objects are about the only disasters which we might have a chance of avoiding. Spaceguard is an organisation which is searching for Near Earth Objects and none so far has been predicted to be on a collision course with the Earth, although Apophis gave us a nasty scare a few years ago.
A close approach of a star could be problematic, not because of the radiation from the star, but as a result of the gravitational effect of the interloper on the orbits of the planets or, in the case of a more distant approach, on the orbits of the comets in the Oort Cloud. The orange dwarf star Gliese 710 might cause problems of this nature in about 1.5 million years time.
“Things That Go Bang” include Novae, Supernovae and Gamma Ray Bursters. These might cause damage to the Earth’s ozone layer which would then be unable to filter out the Sun’s ultraviolet light. Fortunately there appear to be no precursors of these objects within a dangerous distance of the Earth at the moment, but who knows what might happen in the future?
At our April meeting Andrew Norton of the Open University spoke to us about Finding Exoplanets. The idea of exoplanets has been around for a long time, but it is only in more recent years that they have been identified … Continue reading
The subject of March’s OAS meeting was The Antikythera Mechanism and the Mechanical Universe and it was presented by Professor Mike Edmunds. He started his talk with a brief history of its discovery. In 1901/2 a hoard of magnificent objects … Continue reading
Our November meeting was addressed by Jack Carlyle, a PhD student at MSSL, who gave us an entertaining and informative talk on how they observe the Sun. With the help of some amazing animations, including one of a collapsing sun, … Continue reading
Our May meeting was addressed by Alec Boksenberg, who gave us a lively talk about The Intergalactic Medium and Other Things. This was a very interesting and wide ranging talk including evidence that dark matter must exist. He said that … Continue reading
Our April meeting was addressed by Paul Money, who gave us a lively talk about his favourite Images of the Universe volume 1. He introduced 10 images and gave an interesting insight into each one. These included diverse topics such … Continue reading
Our October meeting was addressed by Andrew Coates (Mullard Space Science Laboratory), who gave us a talk about ExoMars. Miriam writes: This was a very informative talk about exploration of Mars, and how MSSL is working on an instrument called … Continue reading
Our October meeting was addressed by Brendan Owens (Royal Observatory, Greenwich), who gave us a talk with the title Solar Secrets: Understanding our Star, the Sun. Miriam writes: We were given a whistle-stop tour of the Sun covering sun spots, … Continue reading
Our August meeting was addressed by Alan Aylward (UCL), who gave us a talk with the title Colouring the Sky. Miriam writes: We had an eventful start to this meeting as were locked out at BEECHE! Fortunately Carole was able … Continue reading
Our July meeting was addressed by Roger O’Brian, who gave us a talk with the title Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Miriam writes: Why don’t stars escape from their galaxies? Why doesn’t dark matter fall into black holes? Questions, conundrums … Continue reading
Our August meeting was a Members Evening. After the Chairman’s welcome and introduction, Mick Welham, our Observing Officer, gave us a slightly longer than usual observing report, including a selection of members’ images from the last two months. Then Carole … Continue reading
Our July meeting was addressed by Jerry Stone, who gave us a longer than usual talk about Apollo Hoax stories. In the first half of the talk he presented a number of pieces of evidence cited by various individuals in … Continue reading