making astronomy accessible to all


All meetings are open to members and visitors. Click here for further details
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Family Space Night 7.30-10pm
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
• Scale of the Solar System
• Make an entire Galaxy
• Moon rock and Meteorites - Hold a piece of the Moon!!
• Apollo 11 and 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 7:30pm.

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!!


Carl Murray: Cassini at Saturn - The End of an Era
Bredhurst Village Hall

The Cassini mission to Saturn ended on 15 September 2017 when the spacecraft entered the planet's atmosphere. Launched in 1997 as part of the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission, the spacecraft had been in orbit about the ringed planet since 2004 sending back a wealth of data about the planet, its moons and its vast ring system.

The talk will highlight some of the discoveries made by Cassini in its 13-year tour of the ringed planet. These include observations of giant storms on Saturn, changing weather and surface features on Saturn's largest moon Titan, the discovery of plumes of ice particles emanating from a source of liquid water beneath the moon Enceladus, as well as the discovery of several new moons.

The presence of a spacecraft in orbit for more than a decade has given scientists the opportunity to study how the system has changed over time. The last part of the talk will focus on Cassini's discoveries about the planet's ring system and the mission's Grand Finale.

Prof Carl Murray

Carl is a Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London. He is a planetary scientist who is interested in the motion of all objects in the solar system, from dust to planets, and he has co-authored the standard textbook on the subject, 'Solar System Dynamics'.

In 1990 he was selected as a member of the camera team for the NASA/ESA Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and he worked on the project until the demise of the spacecraft in September 2017. Carl is particularly interested in the dynamics of Saturn's rings and their gravitational interaction with small moons.

He is also an Associate Scientist on the camera team for ESA’s forthcoming JUICE mission to Jupiter and Ganymede.

In his career he has held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, a SERC Advanced Fellowship and a PPARC Senior Research Fellowship. After obtaining his BSc and PhD from Queen Mary he worked as a postdoc at Cornell University between 1980 and 1982 before returning to a postdoc position at Queen Mary where he has remained ever since.

Caroline Beevis: A Tour of The Southern Skies: Southern Hemisphere Constellations & Stars, Star Clusters and Local Star Lore
Bredhurst Village Hall

Having been guest astronomer in the Namib Desert on several occasions, I got to know the Southern Hemisphere skies fairly well. I learned much about what sorts of night-sky objects were of most interest to the many visitors to the lodge, as well as discovering some 'star lore' from local Namibians.

Here we take a brief tour of the most southerly constellations and deep-sky objects of beauty and interest, including the history of constellation names and exotic deep sky objects, both from the perspective of indigenous peoples across the Southern oceans as well as the historical explorations of the Southern World by the early Northern Hemisphere nautical explorers. Modern day images from some of world’s best telescopes, as well as some of my own humble photos will reveal some of the most beautiful objects to see in the Southern skies.

So if you've never been to the Southern Hemisphere, or maybe if you visited there a long time ago or more recently, come along and find out about what I consider to be the most beautiful and inspiring area of the entire night sky. After the tea-break there will also be a short, five-minute fun 'Generation Game'-style free-for-all quiz!

Caroline Beevis

Caroline's interest in the stars has taken her to such far-flung places as Namibia, where she was guest astronomer at a luxury lodge in the heart of the Namib Desert - you can see some of her Namibia photos here
... and closer to home, Chichester, where she has been involved with the South Downs Planetarium for over ten years. When Caroline is not stargazing, she is teaching guitar to children or riding her motorbike!

Prof Alan Aylward: A sceptics' view of climate change
Bredhurst Village Hall

As an Atmospheric Physicsist, I was interested to hear the barrage of information coming out on the topic of Climate Change, especially the way it was tied in to anthropogenic causes. I occasionally came across the web sites of more sceptical observers and wondered how they could continue in the face of the evidence presented against them.

So I downloaded some of their arguments with a view to debunking them: I was an atmospheric physicist so this should be easy, right? Only I found I had trouble finding the 'basic' flaws in their arguments. So I tried presenting their arguments to fellow scientists and to my students on the basis 'we all know this stuff is wrong, so what is the basic flaw'? Surprisingly few wanted to take on this challenge. So over the years of presenting this I find myself still with no killer 'skeptic-bashing' argument.

The temperature record is fairly (though not entirely) clear, but most of the predictions leading on from this are based on numerical models, and I know as a modeller myself how complex these can be and how easy to get the answer you want or expect by the right combination of input and algorithm. So I end up being able to say: yes the climate is changing, but it has always changed. Is it caused by man? Well, maybe, but there are a lot more uncertainties than the 'establishment view' would have you believe. There is a bandwagon effect in science that we must beware of. That is not to say we should ignore the warnings we get about climate change: we should be a bit more wary about some of the conclusions we draw though.

Prof Alan Aylward

Having read Natural Sciences at Cambridge I came to UCL in 1971 to do a Diploma in Space Science, then worked for a year in British Aircraft Corporation working on a zero-g propellant tank, came back to UCL to do research and then spent some time as a technical consultant in the computer time-sharing industry. An opportunity then came up to combine computing and science by working as a programmer helping to develop the software on the EISCAT (European Incoherent SCATter) radar installation in northern Scandinavia. After a stint as head programmer Alan came back to the UK and worked as a consultant on EISCAT to the universities with the UK research council at Rutherford Appleton Lab, and eventually took up a position at University College London in the Atmospheric Physics Laboratory, which he was head of from 1994 until I retired recently. Alan currently has an Emeritus post there (running a couple of research projects) and part-own a Tea-Shop!
While at APL their programme started as research into the earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere - the aurorae and Space Weather - both by observation using ground-based instruments and by modelling. They then developed from there into modelling and observations of the other planets - aurorae on Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus for example, plus a model of the Martian upper atmosphere. Then in the late ’90s when the first exoplanet, 51 PegB, was discovered they joined the controversy as to whether it could be stable by modelling it using a modified version of their Jupiter model (and showing there was indeed a good reason why it could be stable for billions of years).
That led to more modelling of exoplanets and then observations, and designing a satellite-based exoplanet observatory (which unfortunately ESA did not select, though they continue to develop the ideas).
Alan still works on Space Weather effects, partly with his own consultancy, and retains an interest in all the areas APL/UCL are involved in.


Prof Craig Underwood: Cleaning up Space
Bredhurst Village Hall

Over the last 60 years, many hundreds of satellites have been launched, resulting in many thousands of pieces of 'space debris' orbiting the Earth. If this debris is not removed, future access to space is at risk.
The University of Surrey has been at the forefront of developing and demonstrating some of the technologies that could enable this to happen. This lecture describes the issues involved, and shows the results of recent Surrey missions: 'InflateSail' and 'RemoveDebris'.

Prof Craig Underwood

Prof Craig Underwood was Deputy Director of the Surrey Space Centre from 2007 to 2014.
He currently heads the Environments and Instrumentation Group developing the concepts, instruments and techniques to investigate the Earth and other planetary environments from space. Craig is author or co-author of some 200 scientific papers and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses on Spacecraft Engineering, Communications Payloads and Remote Sensing at the University of Surrey.

Bredhurst Village Hall

Bredhurst Village Hall

The Biq Fun Quiz
Bredhurst Village Hall

The hugely successful MKAS quiz returns for its third year. The quiz covers both general knowledge and astronomy subjects. All proceeds go to the GP20 project.

Further details of the event and ticket prices will appear in due course but make sure you make a note of the date in your diary.


  Public Meetings

Public meetings are held on the second and last Friday of each month, except August and at Christmas, when there are no meetings. Meetings normally start at 7:45pm for 8pm.

All Public meetings are held at Bredhurst Village Hall unless otherwise stated.
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.

These meetings are 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.

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.

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.

  Observing Open Evenings

The James Irwin Observatory is
Currently Closed
and Due to Reopen

on 3rd May 2019

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

On the Fridays when we do not hold our public meetings at Bredhurst, and depending on the weather, we open our James Irwin Observatory in Canterbury for those who wish to do some observing.

We first meet at the Victoria Hotel from 8pm (Oct-Mar) / 8.30pm (Apr-Sep). Thirty minutes later, you will be escorted to the Observatory. Venue details are found on the left of this page.

  Outreach Events

MKAS often get asked to hold Astronomy events for various schools, councils, scout groups and other groups. The committee and other supportive members are very actively organising and holding events from small shows or talks to Spectacular Events where several thousand members of the public typically attend.

  Member Events

We organise various astronomy-related events and trips for our members. These are often subsidised.

  Other Events

Members may also be interested in other astronomy-related events, run by other groups and societies, that our members are welcome to attend.

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

If you wish further information on MKAS or any of the meetings, events and activities of the Society, please contact us, using the details on the CONTACT page.

»Public Meetings 
»Observing Open Evenings 
»Outreach Events 
»Member Events 
»Other Events 


The James Irwin Observatory is
Currently Closed
and Due to Reopen

on 3rd May 2019

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


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)

Click here for details

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