Mid-Kent Astronomical Society
Another great night at the James Irwin observatory!

Friday was clear all night so we had over 3.5 hours of uninterrupted observing of: Uranus and Neptune; The Crab Nebula M1 (barely visible); The Cats Eye Nebula NGC6543; Almaach a beautiful double star in Andromeda to rival Albireo; The Pleiades (most people could see all the Seven Sisters) by naked eye; plus others including M81 & M82 and of course the great Orion Nebula M42. Many also saw several meteors streaking across the night sky.

These observing sessions are open to members of the public, see the Events Page for details.
The James Irwin Observatory is
Currently Closed
and Due to Reopen

on 16th November 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


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.
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 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!!

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
Bredhurst Village Hall

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
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

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!

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

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 11th, 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.


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.