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.
Lectures run on the second Wednesday of the month, except for February and April 2018 (third Wednesday).
This years dates are September 13, October 11, November 8, December 13, January 10, February 21, March 14, April 18, May 9, June 13 and July 11.
Click the title for further information:
10 January 2018 - TRAPPIST-1, and the study of Earth-like worlds
Dr Amaury Triaud (University of Birmingham)
Lecture: He will describe the steps and motivation that led to the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system. We will look at philosophical and scientific arguments and then he will show how we detected the planets, what we can learn about them and how we will remotely explore their atmospheres in the near future, in search for evidence of extraterrestrial biology.
A regular visitor to observatories in the Atacama desert, Amaury Triaud is the discoverer of over one hundred exoplanets. He obtained his PhD at the Observatoire de Genève in Switzerland, then moved across the globe to do post-docs at MIT, Cambridge, US and the University of Toronto, Canada before becoming a Kavli Institute fellow at the other Cambridge here in the UK.
His observations focus on planetary systems that are different compared to our own, either by the type of planets that compose those systems, by their architectures, or because of the type of star(s) they orbit. As part of the SPECULOOS collaboration, he now searches for planets the same size and the same temperature as the Earth and aims to find out if life emerged elsewhere in the Universe. The first such examples were found in the TRAPPIST-I system.
Active in outreach, he created an exoplanet exhibit at the University of Toronto at Scarborough in 2015, has been scientific consultant for a sci-fi trilogy entitled Quantika and has engaged in public lectures, debates, scientific cafés, observing nights, visits of the observatory, classroom interventions, multidisciplinary seminars, exhibits. Besides all his scientific endeavours, he enjoys fencing, photography, tango, (g)astronomy and anything creative that comes his way.
21 February 2018 - Dwarf Galaxies in the Local Group
Dr Noelia Noël (University of Surrey)
Lecture: A “Grand Challenge” in modern astrophysics is to understand how galaxies form and evolve. Our Local Group of galaxies, i.e., the galaxies around Andromeda and the Milky Way, are the best laboratories we have at hand.
In particular the "Magellanic Clouds”, our two nearest Irregular dwarf galaxies, provide the best workplace to study galaxy formation.
The Magellanic Clouds are currently interacting with one another while orbiting around the Milky Way. Their close proximity allows us to resolve their individual stars, providing a unique ‘Rosetta stone’ for understanding galactic encounters and mergers. In this talk she will show how to use stars to perform "galactic archaeology", unpicking the fossil record of a galaxy’s past by forensically dissecting its stellar content.
Noelia Noël grew up in a small Argentinean town, 800 km south of Buenos Aires. When she was five, her father built a dome on top of her home's roof and put a telescope there. That's when she became interested in the Magellanic Clouds, our two closest irregular galaxies, seen as two ''Milky'' patches on the Southern skies. She obtained her PhD in 2008 from the Institutio de Astrofisica de Canarias, after which she relocated to the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh for a postdoc position.
From Jan 2010 she worked as a Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and from Dec 2011 until Feb 2013 she did a postdoc at the ETH Zurich. Noelia joined the Astrophysics group at the University of Surrey in March 2013 and was appointed Lecturer in Astrophysics in November 2016. Her research focuses on the study of resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies.
Further information: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/physics/people/noelia_noel/
14 March 2018 - TBC
18 April 2018 - Cassini
Professor Emma Bunce (University of Leicester)
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).
9 May 2018 - Black Holes in the Universe
Professor Rob Fender (University of Oxford)
Rob Fender is a professor in the Astrophysics group at Oxford. He started his academic career in Southampton, where he did his BSc. He followed this up with a PhD from the Open University, after which he has done a postdoc at the University of Sussex. Moving across the channel, he became Universitair Hoofddocent (senior lecturer) at the 'Anton Pannekoek'-institute - part of the University of Amsterdam - came back to the UK in 2003 where he was Professor of Physics and Head of Astronomy at the University of Southampton until he moved to Oxford in 2013. He also holds a position as Visiting SKA Professor at the University of Cape Town.
His research interests focus on black hole accretion and radio astronomy, although he enjoys dabbling in many other areas. He has done many observations at a variety of frequencies (primarily using radio and X-ray telescopes) to understand the relation between the infall of matter (accretion) and outflow of kinetic energy (in winds and jets) around accreting black holes. In other radio news, he's heavily involved in the first wide-field searches for radio transients with new and next-generation radio telescopes such as LOFAR, MeerKAT and, ultimately, the Square Kilometre Array. The idea is to use this approach to find rare and exotic phenomena in the universe, such as merging neutron stars, and to identify the electromagnetic counterparts of the first-detected gravitational wave sources.
His research group page can be found here.
13 June 2018 - The High Energy Universe
Professor Carolin Crawford (University of Cambridge)
Lecture: X-radiation is emitted only by the hottest and most energetic parts of the Universe – sites of gigantic explosions, plasma heated to millions of degrees, and where there are intense magnetic or gravitational fields. The X-ray sky is thus very different from that seen at visible wavelengths, with many of the sources powered by unpredictable flows of hot matter.
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.
Entry to upper exhibition and cafe
Lecture followed by Q&A and a short break
Entry to upper exhibition and cafe
Lecture followed by Q&A and a short break
Event ends, Science Centre closes
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.