Space Lectures

Monthly adult evening lectures, each followed by a short planetarium show.

These Wednesday lectures are aimed at a level a little above most popular science lectures, so come prepared to exercise your brain and learn the science behind the headlines. The speakers are chosen from the best academic speakers in the UK, with a talent for explaining difficult concepts and the knowledge to give the very latest news from the research community. 

Although the primary audience is adults, older children are also welcome to attend.


4:30pm lecture £8/£6

6:30pm lecture £10/£8  

Multiple bookings: 5-for-4 ticket offer for phone or in-person bookings only. You must book all five tickets at the same time, specifying all dates and times. The cheapest ticket is free. 

Groups of 15 people or more from recognised organisations can save 20% off the ticket prices for this event (offer also applies to After Dark and Saturday Night at the Planetarium). Please visit the groups page for further information.


Lectures run on the second Wednesday of the month, except for April 2017 (fourth Wednesday). Click the title for further information:

8 March 2017 - Earth’s magnetosphere and aurora

Dr Robert Fear (University of Southampton)

Lecture: The Earth’s magnetosphere is the region of space occupied by Earth’s magnetic field. The magnetosphere is buffeted on a continuous basis by the solar wind – a stream of hot magnetised gas (called a plasma) which flows out from the Sun through to the edge of the Solar System. It is a highly dynamic environment, and these dynamics arise from the complex interplay between the magnetic field of the Earth, and that contained in the solar wind. The dynamics of the magnetosphere impact on our lives in two respects: firstly, they are responsible for the highly dynamic aurora, or northern lights; secondly, it has potentially damaging effects on a number of ground- and space-based technologies. Our understanding of both the aurora and magnetosphere has transformed from humble beginnings in the early 20th century to the modern day, yet many questions remain and they are both active topics of research both for those interested in pure scientific research (“How does our Solar System work?”) and the application of this field on modern technology (space weather). In this talk, we will discuss how the magnetosphere works, its relationship with the aurora, and its effect on our lives.

Robert Fear obtained his PhD in Space Plasma Physics from University College London. Working in UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory, his thesis was on spacecraft observations of the fundamental plasma process of magnetic reconnection. He now holds a position as lecturer at the University of Southampton. His research interests include magnetic reconnection, large-scale solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling and formation, evolution and dynamics of transpolar arcs and other polar cap auroras.

26 April 2017 - NASA Juno mission to Jupiter

Dr Emma Bunce (University of Leicester)

Lecture: The Juno mission to Jupiter is NASA’s latest endeavour to explore our outer solar system. Launched from Earth in 2011, Juno’s trip to Jupiter took about five years. Though the journey may seem long, this flight plan allowed the mission to use Earth’s gravity to speed the craft on its way. The spacecraft first looped around the inner solar system and then swung past Earth two years after launch to get a boost that propelled it onward to its destination. In July 2016, Juno successfully fired its main engine and was captured into orbit around the giant planet to begin its scientific mission. The daring spacecraft will now spend ~1.5 years performing a total of 37 orbits around Jupiter, beginning with two orbits that last 53 days before burning the main engine once more to adjust Juno into its final “science orbit”.  This final trajectory takes Juno around the largest planet in our solar system 35 times in 14 days orbits, skimming just a few thousand kilometres above the cloud tops at closest approach.  The orbit and spacecraft and have been carefully designed to perform a clear set of science objectives in the solar system’s harshest space environment.

Juno will improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Specifically, Juno will determine how much water is in Jupiter's atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed). Juno will look deep into Jupiter's atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties of the most dynamic atmosphere in the solar system. The close 14 day orbits will allow Juno to map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the nature of the planet's deep interior (which is otherwise invisible). Finally, Juno will explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the planet's poles, including the auroras – the brightest of any in the solar system – providing new insights about how the planet's enormous magnetic field is connected to its atmosphere.

Emma Bunce was awarded her PhD in 2001 for her thesis entitled “Large-scale current systems in the Jovian Magnetosphere”. In 2003 she was awarded a PPARC Post-doctoral Fellowship to study Saturn’s magnetosphere, she was then appointed to the Department’s lecturing staff in 2005, and has enjoyed teaching undergraduates ever since. In 2009 she was promoted to Reader, and in 2013 she was promoted to Professor. To date, she has published roughly 90 papers in the scientific literature and her work has received national and international recognition.

Her main research interests have focused on the giant rotating magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, with a particular desire to explore and understand the mechanisms which generate the dynamic auroral emissions in their upper atmospheres. She has recently take on the role of PI on the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo MIXS instrument, and is a Co-Investigator on the NASA Cassini magnetometer team. She is also currently acting as the Deputy PI on the Imperial College (PI Professor Michele Dougherty) JUICE magnetometer, and a Co-Investigator on the JUICE UVS instrument (PI Randy Gladstone, SWRi).


10 May 2017 - Euclid: a space mission to map the dark Universe

Dr Dida Markovic (University of Portsmouth)

Lecture: The Euclid space telescope, with a planned launch in late 2020, will use its two instruments to observe the optical and infra-red light across nearly half the sky. It will image and measure the redshifts of millions of distant galaxies in order to catalogue them, their properties and their spatial distribution. From the apparent distortion of galaxy shapes we will measure the gravitational lensing caused by dark matter mass bending the space through which light travels. By looking at the tendency of galaxies to cluster, we will search for the remnants of giant acoustic bubbles from the early universe. Using them as a 'standard ruler', we will study the history of expanding space and therefore the history of cosmic gravity. With these two nearly independent measures of the topography of our space-time, we will attempt to unveil the nature of gravity, dark matter and dark energy.

Dida Markovic is a postdoc at the University of Portsmouth, working on Euclid, a mission to map the geometry of the dark Universe. She has obtained her PhD with the International Max Planck Research School in February 2013 in the Physical Cosmology group at the Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich, on ‘Constraining Cosmology in the Non-linear Domain: Warm Dark Matter.’ Her research interests include large scale structure, cosmic shear and warm dark matter.


14 June 2017 - When Galaxies Collide

Professor Carolin Crawford (University of Cambridge)

Lecture: There is a whole Universe of galaxies out there, displaying a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours. I shall be talking about those 'peculiar' galaxies that appear very different from their mainstream counterparts - galaxies which have been pulled together and then pulled apart by gravity to make some of the most spectacular deep sky objects. I shall discuss the toll that such an encounter exerts on an individual galaxy's properties, and the wider implications of the phenomenon.

Carolin Crawford is Public Astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy and Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, Emeritus Gresham Professor of Astronomy and one of Britain's foremost science communicators. Professor Crawford’s primary research interests are in combining observations from different wavebands to study the physical processes occurring around massive galaxies at the core of clusters of galaxies - in particular, how they relate to the central supermassive black hole.


12 July 2017 - The Medical Implications of Space Flight

Steven Cutts FRCS

Lecture: In this talk doctor Cutts talks about how the human body reacts to the environment of outer space and the threats and the dangers faced by astronauts in both low earth orbit and in any future interplanetary missions.

Steven Cutts is a doctor and science writer based in Norwich. He studied physics at imperial college and medicine at St Thomas'. His futuristic science fiction novel Viking Village is set on the planet Mars. He has now given more than 50 science lectures around the country.


4.30pm Space Lecture tickets include:


Entry to upper exhibition and cafe


Lecture followed by Q&A and a short break


Planetarium show


Event ends.


6.30pm Space Lecture tickets include:


Entry to upper exhibition and cafe


Lecture followed by Q&A and a short break


Planetarium show


Event ends, Science Centre closes


Space Lectures are a fundraising event for Winchester Science Centre.

Wednesday 10 May
Wednesday 10 May
Wednesday 14 June
Wednesday 14 June
Wednesday 12 July
Wednesday 12 July
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Visual warning: as with all planetarium shows, the show after the lecture includes large moving images which may affect people with photosensitive epilepsy, balance disorders and/or extreme motion sickness.