Friday 4th March 2022 BRLSI in-person lecture also available online

The James Webb: The Next Generation of Hubble Telescope

Professor Martin Ward
Emeritus Temple Chevallier Professor of Astronomy at Durham University.

Image credit: (c) National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Hubble Space Telescope has become an icon of Astronomy and it is now more than 30 years old. The new and much more powerful James Webb Space Telescope will soon extend our frontiers of observation. Professor Martin Ward has been involved in this exciting project for many years, and in this lecture he will give you a flavour of what is to come.

Lecturer background

Martin received his BSc. From Imperial College London. He then studied for his Masters and PhD degrees at Sussex University, combined with working at The Royal Greenwich Observatory, based at Herstmonceux Castle, in Sussex. He then accepted a Fellowship at Cambridge University. After this he moved to the USA, and worked at the University of Washington in Seattle, on preparations for the launch of Hubble Space Telescope, before returning to the UK to take up a lectureship at Oxford University. His first appointment as a professor was at Leicester University, where he was involved in the National Space Centre project based in Leicester. In 2004 he move to Durham to become the first holder of the title Temple Chevallier Professor of Astronomy. At Durham University he was Head of the Physics Department and the Science Director of the Institute of Advanced Study.

He has been an advisor to NASA and the European Space Agency in various roles, and has been associated with the James Webb Space Telescope project for more than 20 years. He has published nearly 400 papers in scientific journals. He has long standing interests in public outreach, and has appeared on the Sky at Night, with Patrick Moore, In Our Time, with Melvyn Bragg, and Start the Week, with Andrew Marr.


NASA engineer Ernie Wright looks on as the first six flight ready James Webb Space Telescope’s primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

This represents the first six of 18 segments that will form NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s primary mirror for space observations. Engineers began final round-the-clock cryogenic testing to confirm that the mirrors will respond as expected to the extreme temperatures of space prior to integration into the telescope’s permanent housing structure.

Tickets are available here.

Friday 4th February 2022 BRLSI Zoom lecture projected at the BRLSI and delivered from California

A Tour of the Dynamic Universe

Dr Jeffrey Scargle
NASA Ames Research Center, retired.

Image credit: (c) National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Casual observation of the night sky leads one to view the Universe as well-ordered and stable, changing only in minor ways and regularly, smoothly and predictably at that. Even intensive study with telescopes — starting with Galileo, and including William Herschel, Edwin Hubble and many others — only reinforced this vision of a Clockwork Universe. Space-based missions (including the Herschel and Hubble Observatories, named after the mentioned pioneers) opening up new wavelengths, as well as advances in technology enabling better ways of discovery, have led to a quite opposite view: the Dynamic Universe. This talk is essentially a guided tour of some remarkable events in this ever-changing, highly active universe. We start nearby with the Earth and our Sun, transit the Solar System, pass by exploding stars, active galaxies, gamma-ray bursts, ending with perhaps the most dramatic events of all: merging black holes, accessible through a completely new mode of observation in the form of gravitational radiation, “ripples in space-time.”

Jeff Scargle graduated from Pomona College and gained a PhD from the California Institute of Technology. Subsequently he was at the
University of California at Santa Cruz, Lick Observatory and then became a research astrophysicist in the Astrobiology and Space Science Division, NASA Ames Research Center.

This talk is being given remotely from California and can be attended either remotely on Zoom or at the BRLSI where it will projected. 

Tickets are available from here.