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

on 6th March 2020

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


The Big Fun Quiz
Bredhurst Village Hall

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

Mid-Kent Astronomical Society Quiz Night

Friday 28th February 2020
7.30 for 8.00pm Start
Bredhurst Village Hall

Teams: minimum 6, maximum 8 Players
£6 Per Person (payable on the night)
(Includes Ploughman's supper.)
(Please bring your own drinks and glasses)

!!!!General Knowledge Questions!!!!
(and just a few astronomical ones)

Prizes for Winning Team & Tail-end Charlies
All proceeds to go to GP20 Telescope Fund

Closing date for entries: Saturday 22nd February
All Welcome

For further details and to book a table please contact:
r.tollervey@blueyonder.co.uk or 07568 058246


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.
Will Hughes - Astrobiology and extreme environments
Bredhurst Village Hall

As Prof Rodney Buckland explained in his talk in February we have discovered thousands of exoplanets and many of these will, like planets in our own solar system, have moons. Whist we have yet to find signs of life anywhere other than on Earth Will's talk will consider what forms other life might take and where we are looking for it.

Will's talk will examine extreme environments here on Earth and how they could be an analogue for life elsewhere. Will will use terrestrial examples which showcase how species have adapted to live in hostile conditions on Earth and will focus on how this could be used to predict where we may find life in our own solar system, especially on Mars and various moons of the solar system.

Should we be looking for alien life? How do we avoid contaminating sites where other life might exist? Why do we want to find alien life? What would we do if we found it?

Come along to be fascinated and also to express your own opinions and ideas as this presentation will involve the audience and we look forward to some lively debate!

Will Hughes

Will completed his undergraduate and master's degree in physical geography at the University of London, and since graduating, he has worked as a lecturer at Hadlow College, where he teaches on degree courses in Conservation and Biodiversity.

Will joined MKAS in 2011, and has an active interest in the planets and their moons, their geology, and the spacecraft going out to investigate them.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

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.

Extraordinary General Meeting

Prior to Roy’s presentation there will be a short EGM to adopt a new Constitution. Details of this will be circulated to Members a few days beforehand. Only fully paid up Members will be allowed to vote on this matter.

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.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Easter Social and informal Member presentations
Bredhurst Village Hall

As the date of this meeting falls on Good Friday we decided it would be another opportunity for Members to get together, share Easter Eggs (!) and relax with some informal actitivties.

This will also be an opportunity for Members to share their observing and astrophotography experiences, good or bad, and for telescope and equipment workshops.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury

MKAS Annual General Meeting 7.45-10pm
Bredhurst Village Hall

Please download and review the following documents: [1 of 6 available]
» Agenda for the 2020 AGM
» Minutes of the 2019 AGM
» Treasurer's Report 2019-2020
» MKAS Accounts 2019-2020
» Programme Secretary Report
» Committee Roles and Responsibilities

Please send any proposals for changes to the constitution or society business to secretary@midkentastro.org.uk by no later than 31 March 2020.
The Constitution can be viewed and downloaded from HERE.

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

Jane Green: Look Up, Live It, Love It
Bredhurst Village Hall

This is likely to be one of the most inspirational talks ever presented at MKAS.

A Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Jane is a natural, eloquent and captivating speaker who possesses that rare ability to communicate the complexities of astronomy in a warm and easy to understand way. She makes the ‘ungraspable’ graspable so why not join her for a revelatory voyage into the Universe?

In this talk, with the aid of stunning audio visuals, Jane deconstructs the seemingly complex, de-mystifies meaningless phrases and reveals the darkest wonders of the cosmos to ultimately share what inspires her and her audiences most … perspective, majesty and beauty on the grandest scale of all. This powerful and insightful journey begins and ends with ‘nothing’. What could possibly fill the ‘space’ in between? Find out as Jane inspires you to look up, live it and love it.

Jane Green

An elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS), Jane is now a sought-after presenter, motivational speaker, successful author, science writer, broadcaster, STEM ambassador and registered school speaker.

Having also co-presented with the late Sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS, celebrities and media professionals, Jane was invited to be the Inaugural Speaker for the Sir Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture at Holmewood House School, the school where Sir Patrick himself taught for eight years.

She has been featured in, and writes for, various astronomy publications, including the UK's BBC Sky at Night magazine and the USA's Sky & Telescope publication, and has scripted a live television/theatre interview with the second man on the moon, US astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin.

Her book, the Haynes Astronomy Manual, is an international bestseller and has been translated into several languages. A new edition has recently been released.
She weaves her special magic for select clients at corporate team-building events or before theatre audiences numbering 2000+. All have been enraptured.​

Her passion is making astronomy your passion. Her love for life will change your life.

"Jane has taken up the challenge of doing for a new
generation what Sir Patrick did for us all those years ago."

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Nik Syzmanek: An introduction to meteorological imaging
Bredhurst Village Hall

Nik Szymanek

Nik Szymanek is an amateur astronomer based in Essex. He is a keen astrophotographer and regularly travels to dark sky observatory locations abroad, such as La Palma, Hawaii, Spain and Tenerife. These sites are perfect for deep sky astrophotography and Nik has also liaised with observatory staff to produce public-relations pictures taken with the professional telescopes at those locations. Back in the UK, Nik is a regular monthly columnist for Astronomy Now magazine and has appeared on the BBC's 'The Sky at Night', 'Inside Out' and 'The Final Frontier' television programmes.

Other interests include lecturing to astronomical, photographic and science societies. Nik is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire's Centre for Astrophysics Research and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. In July 2004 he was invited to Berkeley, California, to receive the prestigious Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Amateur Achievement Award for 2004.

Recent projects include the installation of a remote robotic telescope in the mountains of southern Spain. Nik is the author of 'Shooting Stars' a book designed to help people get started in astrophotography. He has also written a book including many great images called 'Infinity Rising'

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Julian Onions - Galaxies one gigayear at a time
Bredhurst Village Hall

In this talk Julian describes what galaxies are, how they formed, how they are classified and what do we understand about their lives. The talk will be illustrated with many superb photgraphs so even if you aren't wowed by the cosmology you can be wowed by the photos.

Julian Onions

Julian is a post doctoral researcher and astrophysist at Nottingham University. He works with computer simulations of large fractions of the universe to understand trends in galaxy formation and evolution. Investigating the tools that help us form and analyse such simulations such as halo finders, tree builders and semi-analytic models. He also does a number of outreach activities, giving talks to astronomy societies and other interested groups such as rotary and U3A, as well as working with schools and scouts/guide groups. He also helps with the teaching of undergraduates in some of the astronomy courses.

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

Colin Stuart returns for another entertaining and highly informative presentation

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
Peter Williamson
Bredhurst Village Hall

Peter Williamson

Pete qualified in Solar System Geology at the John Moores University in Liverpool. He is an astronomer at the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University, a regular presenter on the BBC local radio station in Shropshire, a consultant at the Faulkes Telescope Project and the organiser of SolarSpere, an annual astronomy and music festival in Wales. He is also the founder and presenter of Astro Radio the first dedicated astronomy internet radio station.

Peter also has musical talents and was the the bassist in the original Hawkwind and more lately he is the bassist with the rock band Annubis

Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and
also tronomical Society and also an Associate at the European Astronomical Society.

Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
Arthur Fentaman - how to catch a planet!
Bredhurst Village Hall

How do you catch a planet? It is not too difficult to do even from the light polluted back gardens of the Medway Towns. However, to do it well is another matter and much more of a challenge.

Our speaker Arthur Fentaman has had many of his excellent planetary and lunar images published in Astronomy Now magazine. He was also especially commissioned by the magazine to take photographs of the Apollo lunar landing sites to illustrate their magazine article celebrating the 50th anniversary of the landings in July last year.

Arthur will be showing us all how we too can catch a planet. Arthur will be demonstrating the equipment needed and discussing the various processing techniques he uses. Much of the necessary software is freely available on the internet including alternatives to the Photoshop processing packages.

With Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune becoming more prominent in the evening skies in the Autumn Arthur will explain how Members can capture their very own images of the planets.

Even if you don't fancy trying this yourself, Arthur's images will be a delight in themselves.

Arthur Fentaman

Arthur is a published astrophotographer and active MKAS member.

To see some of his published work you can visit
and while you are at it, read the rest of the Amateur Astophotography Ezine.

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

Dr Sarah Bosman - Cosmology after the first 5 minutes
Bredhurst Village Hall

Once the first moments of physics madness have passed, the history of our Universe is driven by the familiar concepts of temperature and gravity. But it is far from uneventful! The Universe has gone through multiple epochs from its featureless, pure gas beginnings to the present day. Have you ever wondered when the first star formed? What was it like? When did the Universe first become transparent and what caused it? How did galaxies acquire the spiral shapes we see today? When and how could planets start to assemble? Movies obtained from the latest cosmological simulations will illustrate these stages of the life of the Universe, in a tour of our cosmic history.

Sarah Bosman

Sarah is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University College London (UCL) in the group of Prof. Richard Ellis. Previously, Sarah spent 7 years at the University of Cambridge getting a BA and MA in Natural Sciences, an MSci in Astrophysics, and a PhD at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, UK. Prof. George Becker (UC Riverside) and Prof. Martin Haehnelt (IoA) were her supervisors.

Sarah's research interests span the time period of the history of the Universe known as the Cosmic Dawn, during which the first stars and newly assembled first galaxies are breaking down the neutral Hydrogen in their surroundings - becoming possible to observe for the first time.


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 regular meetings are held on the second and last Friday of each month, except August and at Christmas, when there are no meetings.
All regular 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 meetings.

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