Mid-Kent Astronomical Society
Due to cloud expected at around 10pm and high winds the observatory will remain closed this evening.
The James Irwin Observatory is
Currently Closed
and Due to Reopen

on 5th October 2018

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


Prof Alan Aylward: From Daedalus to Dan Dare to Daedalus: is Interstellar Travel feasible?
Bredhurst Village Hall

There have been several studies looking at the possibilities of travelling to other star systems.
Starting from one realistic British study as long ago as the 1970s we examine what the technological constraints seem to be. With time, technology has developed- but far enough?
We will look at whether there have been any breakthroughs in recent yeras and what we might expect in the future.

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.


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.

Ian Hargraves: The Astronomy of Climate change on Earth
Bredhurst Village Hall

Does the alignment of the planets, foretell Earth’s future. No, not astrology but astronomy! A look at the way the alignment of the major planets of our solar system may cause almost imperceptible long term climate change that could have far ranging consequences for our future here on Earth.

Ian Hargraves

Ian has been observing for more than 30 years and has his own observatory equipped with an 11" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope that he uses for both visual observing and astro-photography. Ian has given many presentations including beginner's astronomy talks and introductions to astro-imaging.

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

Nick James: Modern Meteor Astronomy
Bredhurst Village Hall

Nick will cover the use of high sensitivity cameras and software to automate meteor detection and measurement.

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
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Bernard Winchester: Space and Spirituality
Bredhurst Village Hall

Interviews with astronauts returning from space in articles and news reports often indicate that they feel fundamentally changed by their experiences. So, what happens when we “slip the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God’”and why?
Warning: this talk contains no physics (or dogma)!

Bernard Winchester

Bernard is a retired lecturer, and still likes to speak on a variety of subjects. He has been interested in astronomy (and a member of the Croydon Astronomical Society) for over fifty years.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Christmas Social
Bredhurst Village Hall

Our annual Christmas social will feature a very entertaining and enjoyable activity and some paper quiz sheets featured alongside the usual eating and drinking and chat.

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

Christine Brockley-Blatt: Building an Instrument for the Solar Orbiter
Bredhurst Village Hall

Planned for launch in 2020 and flying closer to the Sun than Mercury, Solar Orbiter will carry a comprehensive complement of remote sensing and in situ instrumentation. Four of the spacecraft's ten instruments have UK involvement, providing a unique opportunity for the UK solar, heliosphere and plasma communities.

This talk will present the overall mission goals, provide an update on the current status of the mission and summarise the process of building the Solar Wind Analyser space instrument for the mission.

Christine Brockley-Blatt

Chris Brockley-Blatt is a Senior Project Manager at Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL) and the project manager for the Solar Wind Analyser instrument.

She is a STEM ambassador, a Chartered Engineer and an Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Colin Stuart: How We'll Live on Mars
Bredhurst Village Hall

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 and How to Live in Space – as well as his work with astronaut Tim Peake, strap in for a voyage of discovery and wonder that's truly out of this world.

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

William Joyce: Observing the Moon
Bredhurst Village Hall

This talk will visit and describe diverse features on the Moon's surface which are observable from Earth, and give information on their origin and context in lunar evolution.

Starting with a global view of 'highlands' and 'seas' (maria), through to large-scale features like impact basin and large craters, and down to many types of regional-scale features.

Valleys ('rilles'), lava rivers and tubes, volcanoes, different types of lava flows, 'wrinkle ridges', crater chains, collapse pits, and a mysterious 'swirl', all add to the experience of looking at the lunar surface in detail, and seeing beyond the craters and dramatic mountains to reveal our Moon as a geological complex world in its own right.

William Joyce

William Joyce was an astrophysicist and spacecraft engineer, and is now a planetary scientist, who also provides outreach talks, planetarium shows, and short courses.

William is currently studying for a PhD in satellite remote sensing of volcanoes and lavas on the Moon.

He already has a BSc in Earth and Planetary Science, which was followed by working as the resident Astronomer at Herstmonceux Observatory. He often lectures at Birkbeck, University of London, providing teaching and course development in geophysics and planetary science subjects for undergraduate and Masters students.

Before that, he gained a BSc in Astrophysics which led to research in satellite remote sensing instruments, followed by an industrial career in laboratory work, spacecraft software engineering and aerospace systems engineering.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Fundraising Quiz
Bredhurst Village Hall

General knowledge quiz, with teams of 6 to 8
£6 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
The Quiz will commence at 8pm sharp.

For further details, please contact Bob Tollervey at
rt.toller@blueyonder.co.uk or 07568 058246

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Prof David Rees: Going to Mercury
Bredhurst Village Hall

Prof Rees has designed and built two instruments that are going to Mercury on the Bepi-Columbo mission run jointly by ESA and JAXA.
David will talk about these and the mission and the science that will be carried out.

Prof David Rees

Prof David Rees designs and builds prototype instruments for NASA, ESA, JAXA and other space organisations around the world. He designed and built one instrument that is part of the Bepi-Colombo payload that ESA/JAXA plan to send to Mercury in 2018.

David is Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics at Utah State University, USA. He has a network of contacts that include some of the biggest names in astrophysics and therefore he is up to date on all the latest theories and research.

David is also conducting leading edge research on our atmosphere using his sophisticated LIDAR system. He uses LiDAR systems from his back garden in Sussex to undertake cutting-edge research into the Earth's atmosphere and the wind, also atmospheric particulates like dust from the Sahara.

David is an active member of MKAS and regularly observes from his back garden, under some of the darkest skies in the UK.

He is a keen cricketer and plays regularly for the Kent Seniors team.

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

Prof Tim Horbury: Parker Solar Probe - flying through the Sun's atmosphere
Bredhurst Village Hall

In August 2018, the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft was launched on a mission to explore conditions close to the Sun. It will eventually reach just 4 million miles from the solar surface, just one twentieth of the Sun-Earth distance, dipping into the top of the Sun's hot atmosphere, the corona.
By the time of this talk, Probe will have already reached almost twice as close to the Sun as ever before, well within Mercury's orbit.
Tim will introduce the science behind the mission, some of the engineering challenges and - hopefully - discuss some of the earliest data.

Prof Tim Horbury

Tim Horbury is a Professor of Physics at Imperial College London, where he studies processes such as turbulence and shocks in the solar wind. He also has an interest in space instrumentation and is Principal Investigator of the magnetometer instrument on the ESA Solar Orbiter mission, and a science team member of the Parker Solar Probe mission.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Annual General Meeting
Bredhurst Village Hall

Please download and review the following documents: [1 of 6 available]
» Agenda for the 2019 AGM
» Minutes of the 2018 AGM
» Treasurer's Report 2018-2019
» MKAS Accounts 2018-2019
» Membership Report 2018-2019
» Committee Roles and Responsibilities

Please can members send any proposals for changes to the constitution or society business to secretary@midkentastro.org.uk by no later than 31 March 2019.

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 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
• 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 7:30pm.

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!!


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.