Space Lectures

Monthly 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

6:30pm lecture £10

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.


Lectures run on the second Wednesday of the month unless detailed otherwise. Please note there will not be a Space Lecture in March 2019.

Click the title for further information:

3 April 2019 - The Great Orbital Debris Patch

Professor Hugh Lewis (University of Southampton)

Abstract: Using computer models we can simulate what the space environment might look like over the next 1000 years taking into account many different patterns of space launches and satellite characteristics. A consistent picture of the future emerges when we evaluate these different scenarios and assume our behaviour in space remains unchanged: a new region containing a high concentration of artificial space debris will likely develop at an altitude of about 1400 km.  In effect, we will have created our own ring around the Earth. The formation of this region and its characteristics are similar to those of plastic debris patches found in the Earth’s oceans. This ‘Great Orbital Debris Patch’ is relatively indifferent to how we might choose to use space and, crucially, becomes self-supporting. Consistent with the oceanic debris patches, future generations of space users will see consequences increase by orders of magnitude unless appropriate space traffic management systems and debris mitigation practices are put into place.

The Lecturer: Hugh is a Professor of Astronautics and Head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton. He has been researching the space debris problem for nearly 20 years and is the author of numerous computer models for understanding how the space debris population might evolve in the future. He is a member of the UK Space Agency delegation to the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, the world’s leading forum for the discussion of space debris technical issues, and has represented the UK at meetings of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

29 April 2019 - The Tactile Universe: Engaging the vision impaired community with accessible astrophysics research

Dr. Nicolas Bonne (University of Portsmouth)

Abstract: Astronomy is perceived to be one of the most visual sciences, which means that people with vision impairments can easily feel excluded from engaging with the subject. The Tactile Universe is an on-going public engagement project based at the University of Portsmouth's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation. Our focus is on creating accessible activities and resources that will enable members of the vision impaired community to engage with current research topics within astrophysics and cosmology, with an emphasis on inspiring and raising the aspirations of school students. The current focus of the project is on creating 3D printed tactile versions of galaxy images. These can be used to explain topics related to galaxy research, such as what galaxy shape and galaxy colour can tell us about a galaxy's past and present. By allowing the audience to interact with our tactile models throughout this presentation, we will introduce you to the resources that we have developed, and talk about the project's current national expansion, training workshops and school visits.

The Lecturer: Dr Nic Bonne is a blind, Australian astrophysicist and outreach officer based at the University of Portsmouth whose research area is galaxy evolution. Nic is currently project lead for The Tactile Universe - a public engagement project to make current astrophysics research accessible to people with visual impairments. Nic also works as an advisor and consultant on a number of other national and international VI accessible astronomy projects.

10 July 2019 - Applying Missile Defence Technology to Solve the Near Earth Asteroid Problem (Rescheduled from January)

Alexander Godfrey (Lockheed Martin)

Abstract: The Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 caused approximately £10 million worth of damage and led to 1500 people seeking medical attention. The object remained undetected prior to its atmospheric entry and a larger meteor would be catastrophic if it happened over a city. Before panic sets in; some comfort can be taken that systems already exist, or are being developed, that could deal with this threat. With the technology potentially at our fingertips, this presentation primarily explores whether or not there is a strong enough business case for the inhabitants of Earth to pay for such a system. This Weapon Systems and Technology Lecture will be presented by Alex Godfrey ARAeS, Systems Engineer, Lockheed Martin UK.

The Lecturer: Mr Godfrey is a Senior Systems Engineer working at Lockheed Martin UK – Ampthill, technically leading the pursuit and execution of new business civil space programmes. Most notably he has worked on ESA Space Rider, ESA Mars Sample Return Orbiter, Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators as well as several classified exoatmospheric programmes.


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


Monday 29 April
Monday 29 April
Wednesday 10 July
Wednesday 10 July
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Visual warning: as with all planetarium shows, the show taking place after the lecture includes large moving images which may affect people with photosensitive epilepsy, balance disorders and/or extreme motion sickness.