Spring 2011 Programme

Because of the refurbishment of the Vinter Room, please note that our February and March meetings will be held in the function room of the Conservatory. The location of the April and May meetings will be confirmed nearer the time and posted on the Meetings page, where you can always check the details of the next meeting and find a write up of each meeting after the event. We’ll also continue to post reminders closer to the date on the Club News RSS feed.

This Spring we have some great talks lined up and start the programme in January by teaming up with the BBC Stargazing Live event. Here’s what you’ve got to look forward to;

Wednesday 12th January (at the Vinter Room)
Professor Alan Aylward, head of the Atmospheric Physics Laboratory at University College London, will present “From Daedalus to Dan Dare to Daedalus: Can we go to the stars and what would we find if we get there?”. Having "conquered" the solar system – at least with our robot emissaries – the question changes to whether we could actually send spacecraft to other planetary systems around other stars. The first serious study on this was carried out in Britain in the 1970s and concluded even that even with the technology then, it was feasible. However that mission had a fairly limited scope, and at least one serious technological weakness. Over 30 years later, how much progress has been made – is interstellar travel really feasible? As we consider the going, the possible targets are starting to take focus. Following the first definite proof of a planet around a "normal" star in 1995 the study of exoplanets has boomed. Not only do we know of hundreds of them but we are beginning to be able to measure their atmospheres and environments. The race is on to find the first arguably habitable planet outside the solar system.

This meeting will be held in association with the BBC Stargazing Live programmes to be shown on BBC2 between January 3rd and 5th. We are hoping to attract new members who have been watching the programmes and we will have telescopes available for observing after the talk (weather permitting!). If you want to bring along your scope, please do so.

Wednesday 2nd February (at the Conservatory)
Club member Mike Nicholls, one of our newer members, will present "Astro Navigation in Aviation". Mike learnt to navigate by the stars when he was in the RAF (before GPS was invented!) and he will describe some of the techniques he used.

Wednesday 2nd March (at the Conservatory)
Andrew Pontzen, from the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at Cambridge (KICC), will present "Demystifying Astronomical Statistics". Andrew says this will be the world premiere of this new talk!

Wednesday 6th April (venue to be confirmed)
Nick Achilleos, from the Atmospheric Physics Laboratory at University College London, will talk about his work with the Cassini Mission, investigating the magnetosphere of Saturn.

Wednesday 4th May (venue to be confirmed)
Speaker and location to be confirmed. Details to follow.

As usual, we will take a summer break in June and July. The autumn programme will commence with the annual club picnic on Wednesday 3rd August.

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