Mid-Kent Astronomical Society
The James Irwin Observatory is
Currently Closed
and Due to Reopen

on 1st December 2017

Check here after 19:30 on the day to get final confirmation before travelling in case clouds prevent us opening.
See EVENTS page for details


Colin Stuart: 13 Journeys Through Space and Time: Xmas Lectures from the Royal Institution
Bredhurst Village Hall

Tim Peake's recent visit to the International Space Station has placed a fresh spotlight on the latest developments in space exploration. But space travel is still a pretty new area of human endeavour and our ideas about what and who might be out there have constantly shifted over the years. One place this is particularly apparent is in the famous Christmas Lectures held by the Royal Institution each year.

Last year Colin was lucky enough to rummage around in their archives and write a book about 13 of the lectures devoted to space and time. The first was delivered way back in 1881. The last was the 2015 lectures featuring a message from Tim from orbit (he also wrote the foreword for the book). And how our ideas have changed. In this talk Colin will be sharing some of the stories from the lectures, along with some of his favourite anecdotes about digging through the archives including finding Carl Sagan's immigration form and Dewar's radioactive notebooks.

Colin will bring copies of his hardback book, which will be for sale for £12, so bring some extra cash if you wish to grab a signed copy.

Colin Stuart

Colin Stuart is an astronomy author and speaker who has talked to well over a quarter of a million people about the universe, ranging from schools and the public to conferences and businesses. His books have sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide and he's written over 150 popular science articles for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist, BBC Focus and the European Space Agency.

In 2014 he was awarded runner-up in the European Astronomy Journalism Prize and is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He's talked about the wonders of the universe on Sky News, BBC News and Radio 5Live and been quoted in national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph and The Observer. His TED video on time travel has been viewed over 2 million times.

His other adventures have seen him climb the biggest radio telescope in the UK, stargaze from the Sahara desert and abseil his old school’s science block for charity.


Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

These take place on Fridays when we do not hold a meeting at Bredhurst (except at Christmas).
Check this page or home page after 19:30 on the day to get final confirmation before travelling, in case clouds prevent us opening.

Christmas Social
Bredhurst Village Hall

We have a very entertaining and enjoyable evening lined up for you.
There will be a special activity and some paper quiz sheets featured alongside the usual social.
Bring your own drink and bring some food to share with everyone. We will supply tea, coffee and squash, and the entertainment!

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Bredhurst Village Hall

Details to follow


Visit to National Space Centre

Organised coach tour. Fully booked.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Dr Paul Amitage: Geological History of Mars
Bredhurst Village Hall

Observations of the surfaces of many Solar System bodies reveal important clues about their evolution. Martian observational and measurement resources include the landers, orbiting platforms, Earth-based observations, and Martian meteorites.

Amazing images have been returned from Mars, as good as anything we can do on Earth, and valuable data to accompany the images. Drawing on similarities and differences to Earth, this talk will outline the geological history of the red planet insofar as it has been remotely interpreted. Topics include the periods of the Martian geological timescale, impact cratering, flooding and glaciations, volcanism, mass movement (slumps and slides), the atmosphere and weathering, and the potential for life. Examples will be shown to illustrate how the interplay of geological processes has formed the Martian landscape.

Dr Paul Armitage

Dr Paul Armitage is a consultant geologist who explores for metals that make the things we use every day. After graduating with Bachelor's and Master's degrees in geology from the University of Tromsø in Norway, he completed a PhD at the University of Greenwich in Medway, and settled here. The focus of his PhD was platinum metals, a hot topic in asteroid exploration. He worked as a geologist and geotechnical engineer on tunnel projects, including the HS1 link beneath London, then took up mineral exploration in Greenland, Scandinavia, and Africa. He currently heads a project in Norway that aims to mine copper and zinc. He continues to participate in academic research on rocks formed and deformed by ancient geological events, as far back as the Late Heavy Bombardment nearly 4 billion years ago.

Paul is an active league cricketer, rugby and tennis fan, keen birdwatcher, and fluent Norwegian speaker. He joined MKAS in 2013

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Fundraising Quiz
Bredhurst Village Hall

General knowledge quiz, with teams of 6 to 8
£5 per person, payable on the night (includes Ploughman's dinner)
Bring your own drinks and glasses
Prizes awarded to winning team, runners up and wooden spoon
All proceeds go to the GP20 Telescope fund

Closing Date for entries is Saturday 27th January
For further details and to book a table, please contact Naz Rajan at

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Nick James: Solar Eclipses
Bredhurst Village Hall

Due to the lucky chance that the Sun and Moon appear about the same size in our sky we are treated to the majestic phenomenon of a total solar eclipse. This talk will describe the history of eclipses, what can be seen during a total eclipse and why they are scientifically still very useful. I'll talk about ways to observe and image these eclipses and will look back at the lessons learned from the great US eclipse of last August.

Nick James

Nick has been interested in astronomy for as long as he can remember, certainly since the age of 8. He has been a member of the British Astronomical Association since he was 12 and is now the Director of its Comet Section. Nick is also Assistant Editor of The Astronomer Magazine. He has written many articles for magazines and books, and co-authored "Observing Comets" which was published in 2003 as part of Sir Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy series.

Professionally, Nick is an engineer in the space industry, leading a team responsible for implementing highly sensitive and accurate systems for receiving and processing signals from deep-space spacecraft. He is also a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) ambassador and is keen to encourage more young people to consider science and engineering as a career.

All of this keeps him pretty busy but he still finds time to travel extensively to see astronomical phenomena. He is an eclipse chaser, having seen 13 total solar eclipses and has travelled to see the northern lights, comets and other interesting objects under dark skies.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Bredhurst Village Hall

Details to follow

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Rolf Williams: The Need For Speed
Bredhurst Village Hall

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Annual General Meeting
Bredhurst Village Hall

Please download and review the following documents: [Not yet available]
» Agenda for the 2018 AGM
» Minutes of the 2017 AGM
» Treasurer's Report 2017-2018
» MKAS Accounts 2017-2018
» Membership Report 2017-2018
» Committee Roles and Responsibilities

The AGM is open to all MKAS Members and Visitors, however only Members are entitled to vote.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Family Space Night
Bredhurst Village Hall

Looking for something to keep the kids interested, look no further than space!

An exciting evening of space displays and activities, space talks and telescopes.
Suitable for kids and adults, come and learn about Space, Astronomy, and Rockets.

• Astronomical hands-on displays about Space and our Solar System
• Talks on the Planets and Space
• Make craters on the Moon
• Make an entire Galaxy
• Moon rock and Meteorites - Hold a piece of the Moon!!
• Space Shuttle and Apollo rockets
• About hardware going to Mercury
• Telescopes for StarGazing, if weather permits
• Hear the latest news on our Giant GP20 Telescope & Space Centre
• Telescope Workshop: bring your Telescope and we will show you how to use it
• Raffle, Tea, Coffee, Squash and Biscuits

Doors open at 7:45pm for 8pm.

Everyone is welcome, £1 on the door
All funds raised will go to the GP20 Telescope project
Wrap up warm as it can get cold outside looking through the telescopes!!

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Will Joyce: Geology of the Moon
Bredhurst Village Hall

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Peter Bassett: Stargazing in Arizona
Bredhurst Village Hall

Arizona is well known for its amazingly clear skies. This is one of the reasons one of our founder members, Peter Bassett has bought land there.
This talk will describe his experiences in seeing the Milky Way from his land, about Meteors, UFOs, the Zodiacal Light, how he built a Camera/Telescope Platform.
There will be many great photos, some in 3D, to illustrate the talk and his fascinating story.

Peter Bassett

Peter has studied Spaceflight & Astronomy from the age of five after seeing the Apollo 8 mission live on TV orbiting the moon for the first time in 1968. After a tour of the USA in 1992, he was inspired to set up a planetarium business teaching the subject up to A level. Peter also gives public lectures around the country including 'Are we Alone?' & 'Satellite Spotting from your garden'. He has performed in around 2000 different venues.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Nik Szymanek
Bredhurst Village Hall


Bredhurst Village Hall

Hurstwood Road,
Bredhurst, Gillingham,
Kent ME7 3JZ
(Close to J4 off the M2)
There is a car park on site.
Starts 7:45pm for 8pm.

James Irwin Observatory

Meet in the Conservatory at:
Victoria Hotel
59 London Road,
Canterbury, Kent
You will then be escorted to the observatory at 8:30pm (Oct-Mar) / 9pm (Apr-Sep)
Following the presentation there will be a tea break giving a chance to talk with other MKAS members and then an observing session in the field behind the hall (weather permitting) and a telescope workshop in the hall, so if you are having problems with your telescope (or just want to show it off) bring it along.

The meeting is open to non-members who are welcome to attend for free on their first visit.
Everyone of all ages and levels of expertise is welcome, including complete beginners.

There is a small entrance fee for each meeting to cover costs for tea and coffee.

Please dress appropriately for the weather, and be ready for observing, if it is clear. Remember that it can get very cold, especially in winter, so bring several layers or your warmest winter coat, as you feel appropriate.

All of our public meetings are held on the second and last Friday of each month, except August and at Christmas, when there are no meetings.
All Public meetings are held at Bredhurst Village Hall unless otherwise stated.
Meetings normally start at 7.45pm for 8pm.
Bredhurst Village Hall : Hurstwood Road, Bredhurst, Gillingham, Kent ME7 3JZ
Bredhurst is close to J4 off the M2. There is a car park on site.

See our website EVENTS page for details of our forthcoming public meetings.

All persons under 18yrs must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or responsible adult.