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:

12 December 2018 - How we’ll live on Mars

Colin Stuart (RAS)

Abstract: Humans will soon make their first trip to Mars. How will we get there? What challenges will you have to overcome and what spectacular sights await the successful? In a talk packed full of stunning visuals and the latest scientific thinking, astronomy author Colin Stuart takes us on a journey to the Red Planet to witness the majesty of a Martian sunset.

Based on his two latest books – The Traveller's Guide to Mars (Palazzo, September 2018) and How to Live in Space (Andre Deutsch, October 2018) – strap in for a voyage of discovery and wonder that's truly out of this world.

The Lecturer: Colin Stuart is an astronomy author who has talked to over a third of a million people about the universe. His books have sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide and been translated into eight languages. He's written over 150 popular science articles for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist, BBC Focus and the European Space Agency.

In recognition of his efforts to popularize astronomy, the asteroid (15347) Colin Stuart is named after him and in 2014 he was awarded runner-up in the European Astronomy Journalism Prize. A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, he's talked about the wonders of the universe on Sky News, BBC News and BBC Radio 5 Live and been quoted in national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and The Observer.

9 January 2019 - Applying Missile Defence Technology to Solve the Near Earth Asteroid Problem

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.

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. 

13 February 2019 - Big computers and little galaxies

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

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 09 January
Wednesday 09 January
Wednesday 13 February
Wednesday 13 February
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.