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Meetings Calendar

With regret, all events at the RMS, including our monthly SWHAS meetings are suspended until further notice due to the Covid-19 crisis.

We will keep members informed of any developments by email and update our website with any further news in the coming weeks.


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 - Mike Foulkes

The planet Uranus was discovered by William Herschel on 13 March 1781- the first planet to be discovered since ancient times. This talk will provide a top level overview of the Uranus system including the planet itself, its satellites and rings, both from amateur and professional observations. This description will be set in part, in the context of Herschel’s discovery of the planet and his subsequent observations.

Mike is the director of the British Astronomical Association’s (BAA) Saturn, Uranus and Neptune Section and is also on the committee of the BAA’s Jupiter Section. He has been interested in astronomy since a young age and is an active observer; particularly of the Moon and planets. Mike also has been to a number of Total Eclipses of the Sun. For many years, he has given various talks to amateur astronomical societies and also participates in the BAA Back to Basics courses, which are aimed at beginners in amateur astronomy.

Mike has worked in the spacecraft industry for a number of years on both communications and scientific satellites. Apart from astronomy, his interests include rock music, sport and hill walking.

Mar 7 - ‘Your Universe’ outreach festival of Astronomy at UCL, Gower Street, London

Celebrating 30 years of the Hubble Space Telescope.

UCL’s Your Universe outreach festival of Astronomy takes place on 6th (schools only) and 7th March (public).

Meet scientists, try out telescopes and observe the Sun and Moon.

Evening panel discussion (6:30pm) - 30 years of the Hubble Space Telescope - chaired by Francisco Diego.

For further information please visit: www.ucl.ac.uk/your-universe/

For the 30 years of HST panel discussion please click on this Eventbrite registration link: https://tinyurl.com/ry358p9

TBA - An Introduction to Astrophotography - Stephen Heliczer / Martin Weston

Let Steve and Martin introduce you to the rapidly expanding universe of Astro-Photography!

This talk will be suitable to anyone with a telescope (even if it is currently stored in the cupboard under the stairs) and an interest in astronomy. If you have not yet even considered taking pictures of the night sky, or you have experimented with a phone or SLR camera with variable results, we are sure you will pick up some useful tips and hopefully inspiration to guide you further along the way.

Although it may seem rather daunting at first, capturing images is great fun and highly rewarding and excellent results can be achieved with the most basic of equipment. It is a great way of sharing your interest in astronomy with friends and family who are not quite so keen freezing outdoors at midnight on a winter's evening!

Steve will introduce you to what you can expect to capture during your first steps and Martin will demonstrate what can be achieved with some further practice and the correct approach. Even with the most basic equipment you will be able to record images simply not possible a few years ago with some of the biggest telescopes in the world.

When you look at an image you have taken yourself, and really think about that image, it will give you and your family a whole new perspective on the universe. It will also give you something to show for your hobby, and with practice, something unique to hang on your wall!

TBA - AGM / Member's Images
TBA - Talk by 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)