making astronomy accessible to all


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Print ALL events Outreach Events

Prof Ian Morison: Proving Einstein right
Bredhurst Village Hall

For over a 100 years astronomers, including those at Jodrell Bank Observatory, have been testing Einstein's Theories of Relativity to the limit - so far without fail. Recently a further proof of his predictions came with the detection of gravitational waves and gamma rays from the merging of two neutron stars. But, at some limit, his classical theories must fall down as in the heart of a black hole.

Ian, who worked at Jodrell Bank for many years will explain in simple terms how scientists have tested Einstein's predictions over the years and discuss how things might move forward in the light of recent groundbreaking experiments around the detection of gravitational waves and the first ever photograph of a black hole.

This will be an extremely interesting and easy to follow presentation from a distinguished professional astronomer and author, who spent many years working at Jodrell Bank and who still "works" there in an ambassadorial and educational role.

Prof Ian Morison

Ian Morison joined the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory as a research student in 1965 before becoming a staff member in 1970. Initially working on data acquisition systems for the observatory's own instruments including the Lovell and Mk II radio telescopes, he went on to play a key role in the development of MERLIN, an array of radio telescopes with a resolution in the radio spectrum comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope in the optical.

On 1 August 2007 Ian was appointed as the 35th Gresham Professor of Astronomy, a position previously held by Christopher Wren. In this role he delivered a series of 25 public lectures on astronomy and astrophysics. The four-year period of Gresham Professorship came to an end in August 2011.

Ian is a founding member and now patron of Macclesfield Astronomical Society, a former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy and patron of Ewell Astronomical Society.

Ian has written several books:-
Astronomy (2004, w. Margaret Penston)
Pocket Guide to Stars and Planets (2005 w. Margaret Penston)
Introduction to Astronomy and Cosmology (2008)
An Amateur's Guide to Observing and Imaging the Heavens
A Journey through the Universe: Gresham Lectures on Astronomy (2014)
The Art of Astrophotography (2017)

His easy to follow style of writing reflects his relaxed and entertaining style of spoken presentations.

Main belt asteroid 15727 Ianmorison was named after Morison.


Graham Finch: An idiot's guide to Messier and some of the most beautiful objects in the night sky
Bredhurst Village Hall

There can hardly be an astronomer that has not heard of Charles Messier or his catalogue of “Messier Objects”. But what of Charles Messier himself?

In the first part of his presentation Graham will provide an insight into the life of Charles Messier explaining how he came to be interested in astronomy and why he ended up becoming famous for observing and cataloguing these objects.

Graham will also explain why these objects are ideal for the amateur astronomer to observe and he will refer to easily accessible resources to assist.

Was Charles Messier lucky or unlucky in his personal and professional life? Well hopefully you will be able to decide.

In the second part of his talk, which will include photographs and short videos, Graham will discuss the astronomical significance of some of these beautiful objects and bring to the fore the contributions of other astronomers whose work was badly overlooked at the time.

Hopefully, following the talk, we will observe some Messier objects with a variety of equipment, if the weather permits!

Graham Finch

Graham Finch is a longstanding member of MKAS and a Committee member. He has helped with many MKAS outreach events and often brings equipment along to enable people to view the night sky after our meetings. He also helped MKAS to raise a considerable sum of money for the GP20 project.

His interest in astronomy was first inspired by Eric Jones, a Maths teacher, at Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School Rochester. Eric organised regular lunchtime lectures in astronomy and also allowed Graham to borrow the school’s 3 inch refractor. It was whilst working in the school library that Graham also came across some of the many astronomy books written by Sir Patrick Moore.

Graham is a keen amateur astronomer and is interested in all aspects of astronomy. He currently describes himself as a “frustrated astro-photographer!” He is also a member of the BAA, the SPA , the Webb Deep Sky Society and the Flamsteed Society.

He says he is an evenly balanced sort of guy – he has a chip on each shoulder!


Robert Lines: The Dark Arts - an introduction to deep sky imaging
Bredhurst Village Hall

This talk will be of great interest to anybody who enjoys seeing beautiful astronomy images and particularly to those interested in trying astroimaging themselves but not knowing where to start.

Robert will provide a beginners' guide on how to obtain stunning images of deep sky objects. Robert will exlain what equipment is needed and how to set it up and then show the main techniques needed to acquire and process the data.

Robert Lines

Robert is a keen amateur astronomer and an active member of MKAS. He explains "I had a passion for chemistry from an early age and after graduating from Queen Mary, London University and spending some time at various Scandinavian Universities found a career as an industrial chemist. Being of a scientific bent, astronomy has always been an interest but I only acquired a ‘scope when I reached 58. Having an interest in photography, I quickly progressed from purely visual observing to astro imaging and persevered with the steep learning curve. Although imaging both solar system and deep sky objects can be a challenge given the UK weather it does make for a very satisfying hobby when successful."


Prof David Rees: Transit of Mercury
Bredhurst Village Hall

A rare transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun will be visible from the UK on Monday 11 November 2019, only three days after our meeting. Mercury will start to move across the face of the Sun around 12:30 pm and will continue to move across the Sun throughout the afternoon, eventually leaving the disc after sunset, as seen from the UK.

In this talk David will explain why these transit events are so rare.

He will provide valuable information as to how, weather permitting, we can safely observe the transit ourselves.

This can be done by one of two methods:-

Using a special solar filter mounted safely to a telescope to greatly reduce the Sun’s apparent brightness;

Using a small telescope to safely project an image of the sun onto a white screen.

As ever, including solar eclipses, NEVER look directly at the Sun with any form of binoculars or telescope to avoid very serious eye injury!

The next transit of Mercury will not take place until 13th November 2032.

Make the most of this opportunity to find out more and hopefully see the 2019 transit yourself.

Prof David Rees

Prof David Rees has designed and built instruments for NASA, ESA, JAXA and other space organisations around the world. He designed and largely built the MSASI instrument that is part of the Bepi-Colombo payload that ESA/JAXA launched successfully toward Mercury in October 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 Salehurst 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 currently working on the Aeolus Calibration / Validation Programme for the Aeolus wind-measuring Lidar Satellite launched by ESA in August 2018.

David is an active member of MKAS and regularly observes using a 16” ODK from his back garden in Salehurst, under some of the darkest skies in the UK.

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


Dr Brendan Owens: The state of Solar physics in the 21st century
Bredhurst Village Hall

Much has changed in our understanding of the Sun since we first started observing it back in the 17th century. The cause of sunspots, first observed by Gallileo in 1660 and the incredible impact of the Carrington event in 1859, which were perplexing at the time are now readily understood.

Our understanding of the internal processes within the Sun, the solar wind, coronal mass eruptions and the effect of the Sun on our planet has evolved considerably with the development of new technology.

In this talk Brendan Owens, who specialises in solar physics will provide a fascinating insight into the current state of solar physics and our understanding of our nearest star.

Dr Brendan Owens

Dr Brendan Owens MSc is the Astronomy Programmes Officer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. As one of the astronomers at the Observatory, he presents planetarium shows, develops and presents schools workshops, looks after the operation of the largest lensed telescope in the UK and also frequently talks about science fact versus science fiction. He holds a B.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy and an M.Sc. in Science Communication both from Dublin City University and has worked on projects regarding Solar Physics.


Christmas Social
Bredhurst Village Hall

Our annual Christmas social will feature a very entertaining and enjoyable video alongside the usual eating and drinking and chat.


Roy Easto: Merging Neutron Stars
Bredhurst Village Hall

140 million years ago, in a galaxy far away two neutron stars spiralled into an inevitable collision releasing a burst of gamma rays and gravitational waves that spread inexorably outwards. They reached Earth on the 17th August 2017 when they shook the astronomical community. This talk takes a look at what happened and what we have learned.

Roy Easto

Roy is an Amateur Astronomer from the Croydon Astronomical Society with a great interest in theoretical physics and cosmology. In the past an avid observer and occasional eclipse chaser. Now concentrates on computer simulations in Astronomy.


  Regular Meetings

Regular 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 Regular 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 20th September 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 regular 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.

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


The James Irwin Observatory is
Currently Closed
and Due to Reopen

on 20th September 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

© Mid-Kent Astronomical Society 2019
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