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Meetings Calendar

Lecture meetings held at the Royal Masonic School, Rickmansworth. (See the Location page for map and plan).

Meetings start at 8pm. The main talk is followed by refreshments, after which we have a tour of the night sky in the planetarium. All meetings are on a Friday and start at 8pm, unless otherwise stated.


Jan 31 - Getting light from the darkness - the story of the biggest telescopes - Peter Grimley

When it comes to telescopes, bigger has (almost) always been better. All through history, astronomers have realized that gathering more light meant seeing more and more interesting things. That is as true for today's astronomers as it was for Galileo. In this talk Peter will look at some of the world's biggest telescopes - from the early attempts to make accurate lenses, to the technological marvels that now inhabit some of the most outlandish places on Earth.

Peter's career began in professional astronomy. He has a PhD in extragalactic astronomy from the University of Wales, and held research positions in academic institutions in Ireland. His main research interests were around star formation in nearby galaxies, and the evolution of active galaxies and quasars. He then changed direction and spent a number of years in the UK civil service developing UK and EU agriculture policy. In time he began to miss the feelings of awe and wonder that contemplating the Universe brings, and he left the civil service to become a freelance astronomy writer and presenter. Peter gives talks and presentations to a variety of audiences and contributes to the European Southern Observatory's public outreach programme. He has a deep interest in music, playing several instruments quite badly, and also enjoys photography, modern dance, horse-riding and chocolate.

Feb 28 - Herschel's Planet, Uranus - Mike Foulkes
Mar 27 - An Introduction to Astrophotography - Stephen Heliczer / Martin Weston
Apr 24 - AGM / Member's Images
May 29 - TBA - Mike Leggett
  The following may still be of interest (from previous talks)

The James Webb telescope

The following links are related to the Telescope (they open in new pages)

YouTube video

The NASA site

Web Telescope.org

Notes regarding David Rothery's talk on 25th September:2015

David A Rothery, Professor of Planetary Geosciences, The Open University Pluto and Charon

The new pictures that NASA’s New Horizons probe has begun to beam back have revealed Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in ever greater detail from what is the first ever spacecraft fly-by.

After a decade-long journey by the New Horizons spacecraft through our solar system, we can finally add Pluto and its main moon Charon to the roster of large icy bodies whose landscapes we have seen. And it was worth the wait. The first detailed images are surprising, showing a remarkable lack of impact craters on both Pluto and Charon.

NASA’s probe passed within 14,000 km of Pluto on 14th July and after a nervous 12-hour wait for its call home, has begun to send back its trove of data, which includes images revealing details as small as 100 metres across. The data will continue to be sent back for the next 16 months or so, but the initial data has sparked renewed interest on this odd couple. Although we may have to wait a while before we see the best of the pictures, what we already have already seen is enough to greatly intrigue planetary scientists such as David.

The most detailed image of part of Pluto is truly staggering. Not a single impact crater is to be seen in this region, so the surface must be very young – reshaped by some sort of geological activity such as faulting or icy volcanism.

David is well placed to comment on the initial findings, having published many books on the planets, volcanology and geology over the past few decades. His long standing research interests, centring on the study of volcanic activity, volcanology and geoscience on other planets, allow him a unique perspective on what all this new information could mean to us in terms of understanding the enigmatic Pluto and Charon.

pluto sharon

Observing at  High Top

Observing is dependent on the weather.

This site houses our own Observatory with a number of instruments available for use by members.

Observing sessions normally take place on Saturday evenings, starting at 8 pm (although this can vary according to the time of year).

For further details see the Locations page (link  menu bar)