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

on 5th April 2019

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 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

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.

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
• 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!!

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

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.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Caroline Beevis: A Tour of The Southern Skies: Southern Hemisphere Constellations & Stars, Star Clusters and Local Star Lore
Bredhurst Village Hall

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Prof Alan Aylward: A sceptics' view of climate change
Bredhurst Village Hall

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

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.

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

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


Ashdown Forest, 28 Jul - 06 Aug

The 2019 AstroCamp will be held on Sunday 28 July to Tuesday 6 August.

A perfect opportunity to relax in the very picturesque Ashdown Forest, read, go on country walks, visit the local quaint shops, visit nearby Pooh Bridge and other Pooh-related places, socialise with other like-minded amateur astronomers, and do some astronomy in the darker skies of mid-Sussex.

The popular barbecue will be held on Saturday 3rd, with many more people visiting just on this evening, sometimes as many as 100 people in attendance. Bring your own food and drink (alcohol permitted).

All members of MKAS are invited, along with their guests.

For details, speak to Naz Rajan.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

Summer BBQ Social
Bredhurst Village Hall

The MKAS Social Evening around the BBQ where you can take it easy and meet other like-minded astronomers and water rocket enthusiasts.

Entrance is free to MKAS members and their friends. All you need to bring with you is your food for the BBQ and some buns plus any alcoholic drinks that you may like. MKAS will provide tea, coffee and squash.

Don’t worry about the weather as we will definitely have the BBQs lit.

If you would like to take part in the Water Rockets competition then please make sure that you bring your rocket with you all ready to launch we will supply the Dihydrogen Monoxide rocket fuel (aka H2O aka water).

Rules for the water rocket competition are few but the rockets must be made from a plastic fizzy drinks bottle (normally 2 litre size is best) and must have the standard 21mm internal diameter neck with lip that the top normally screws down onto. Furthermore the placing of cannon balls in the nose cone is definitely not allowed (you know who you are!).

It is advisable to attach some fins at the neck end to stabilise the rocket in flight. These need to be kept well clear of the neck as the launcher needs to locate just behind the lip on the neck of the bottle.

If you are really clever you could fit your rocket out with a re-entry parachute that deploys once the rocket has reached maximum altitude and starts its return to Earth.

Don’t forget to decorate your rocket as well!

Small prizes will be awarded for: Highest flight, longest flight, best parachute return to Earth and most attractive rocket. So get building your rockets as the countdown to blastoff has already begun!


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.