Friday 6th November 2020 at 7.30 pm on Zoom, Dr Bob Fosbury, How the Sun Paints the Sky

Unless they are astronauts, humans must view the Universe through the window of the Earth’s atmosphere. Although a clear sky is relatively transparent to visible light, bright astronomical objects — most noticeably the Sun — can paint the entire sky with luminosity, colour and shadow to be captured by both landscape painters and photographers. How does this happen and what physical processes are responsible for these beautiful colours, gradations and patterns? The talk explains some of this and is illustrated with spectacular images of the sky from space and from above the European observatories in the Chilean Atacama desert.

Robert (Bob) Fosbury is currently an emeritus astronomer at the European Southern Observatory and an honorary professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology at UCL.

The video recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel. Please go the following link to view.

There is also an extended paper on this subject as a PDF file on the following link.

Friday 2nd October 2020 at 7.30 pm on Zoom, John I. Davies, Joint BIS/HS lecture – First Steps to Interstellar Probes- i4is Project Glowworm

The lecture will explain i4is Project Glowworm – a near term low earth orbit demonstration of laser push technology. This is a first step to interstellar probes using that technology. The lecture will explain the motivation for this project, set out the history of, and physical basis for, laser propulsion, summarise the alternative means of interstellar propulsion, outline the planning for the probe and mention some other i4is work including Project Lyra, planning probes to reach interstellar objects such as 1I/’Oumuamua.

The lecture will be given by John I. Davies of the Initiative & Institute for Interstellar Studies (i4is).

The recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel. Please go the following link to view.

Friday 4th September 2020 at 7.30 pm on Zoom, Dr Dirk Froebrich, The HOYS-CAPS Project – Hunting Outbursting Young Stars

The talk will introduce the Hunting Outbursting Young Stars (HOYS) citizen science project. They work with amateur astronomers to study the formation of stars and planets. We will give a brief overview on how stars and planets are forming and discuss how the project relies almost exclusively on data taken by Amateur Astronomers. The second half of the talk will be used to show some of the interesting results they have obtained. The lecturer will also briefly explain how people can participate in the data collection and data analysis.

Dr Dirk Froebrich is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent

The recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel. Please go the following link to view.

Friday 6th March 2020, Professor Michael G. Edmunds – Astronomy in an Age of Revolutions: The Foundation and Founders of the Royal Astronomical Society 1820

Two hundred years ago on a cold winter’s night in January, fourteen men sat down to dinner at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London. They agreed to form the Astronomical Society of London – which would become the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831.  What sort of men were they? What were they hoping to achieve?  In this bicentenary year the talk will look at these colourful characters – some famous, some less well known – with a few others from the early membership, and ask:  what was known about the Universe at that time?

Friday 7th February 2020, Dr Cees Carels, “Dark Matter and Current Direct Detection Experiments”

A large fraction of the matter content of the universe is thought to be dark matter. There are numerous experiments around the world that aim to detect dark matter or infer its properties directly or indirectly, though to date there has not yet been a conclusive direct experimental detection of a dark matter interaction. Dr Cees Carels will explore the current evidence in favour of the existence of dark matter, and cover in more detail a number of modern experiments and the challenges towards direct detection.

Our lecture programme has been suspended from April 2020 onwards

Our lecture programme was suspended from the beginning of April 2020 onwards because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore the planned lecture by Michael Perryman on Friday 3rd April 2020 did not take place. The title was “Hipparcos and Gaia – Space Astrometry: unravelling the formation and evolution of our galaxy”. Also cancelled for now is our May lecture which was to have been “How the Sun Paints the Sky” by Dr Robert Fosbury.

The programme will be resumed in September 2020 with lectures streamed live over Zoom complete with Q & A sessions. Tickets will be available from Eventbrite at the same price as for physical lectures (£2 for members/students, £5 for others). Please check this Events page for further details and links to purchase tickets.

Friday 6th December 2019 – Moon: Art, Science, Culture, Dr Robert Massey & Dr Alexandra Loske

Tuesday 26th November, at 7pm, Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture, Bath University – Small Stellar Systems, Big Astrophysical Questions, Dr Anna Lisa Varri, University of Edinburgh

Friday 4th October 2019, Joint WHS/BIS Lecture – William Herschel and the Rings of Uranus, Dr Stuart Eves

It is generally believed that the rings around the planet Uranus were discovered during an occultation experiment in 1977. Remarkably, however, the first possible observations of a ring around Uranus may have been made by William Herschel some 180 years earlier. This talk discusses the evidence, and then considers the factors that might have changed to prevent further observations of the rings.