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:

9 January 2019 - Asteroids - a waste of space? 6:30pm Only

Professor Malcolm Coe

Abstract: Asteroids are becoming increasingly of great interest to us. Over many years we have become aware of the great potential threat they represent to the Earth, with the scars of their impacts littering our planet. But now we are beginning also to look at them in a more positive light as we start to think about asteroids as a future resource for both our planet and space travel. This talk will focus on the latter aspect, starting off with a review of the nature of these objects. Where do we find them, what are they made of and then, what do we want to get from them? It will finish with a few thoughts on the looming legal battles as to who exactly has the right to mine these objects - all of us, or just those who get there first?

 The Lecturer: Malcolm Coe is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Southampton. His research normally focuses on the life cycles of stars in different types of galaxies, a topic on which he has published over 200 papers. But in 2017 he was honoured by having an asteroid the size of the Isle of Wight named after himself - 9015 Coe. This had led to a new international collaboration with astronomers in the USA to start thinking seriously about the approaches one could use to identify commercially interesting asteroids. For more information on Malcolm Coe visit his website:

13 February 2019 - Big computers and little galaxies

Dr. David John Williamson

Abstract: What exactly does a “supercomputer” look like these days? How do astronomers use them, and what kind of results do they get? Using results from dwarf galaxies simulations performed at Southampton University, David will answer these questions and explain what they tell us about these vulnerable little galaxies, and the local universe in general.

The Lecturer: Born in New Zealand, David Williamson completed an MSc in Condensed Matter Physics at Victoria University of Wellington before pursuing his true passion of astronomy and undertaking a PhD in Computational Astrophysics at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. After three years as a postdoctoral researcher at Université Laval in Québec City, he has been working as a postdoctoral researcher at Southampton University since 2016, developing simulations of active galactic nuclei and dwarf galaxies.

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.


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


Wednesday 03 April
Wednesday 03 April
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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.