Mid-Kent Astronomical Society
The James Irwin Observatory is
Confirmed CLOSED
It will remain closed until further notice.

Prof David Rees - Recent Small Comets

During the past 40 years, there have been some 11 space missions to comets, led by Europeans, US, Japanese and Russians, including the spectacular ESA “Rosetta” Mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. These missions have provided a wealth of data on the previously mysterious chemistry and physical make-up of comets, visitors from the far reaches of our Solar System – the Oort Cloud.

The past 20 years has been quite short of spectacular “visual” comets – although on most nights – a 10” – 16” telescope can easily find at least one comet that is worth imaging with a high-performance camera. Indeed the 4 such comets of the past 4 months have provided a very welcome distraction from “Lock-Down”!!

Also, of note are cometary visitors from other distant solar systems. Only two such “comets” have yet been observed. There are very significant implications resulting from the numbers of such extra-solar-system visitors throughout the history of our Solar System.

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.


Following on from the success of the EGM and two or three other virtual meetings we have decided to hold a social meeting so Members can chat to each other via Zoom.

This will be hosted by our Chairman Ian Hargraves but the discussions will be very much decided upon by those that attend. Please join us and share your observing experiences and if you have had problems with your astronomical equipoment feel free to ask for advice.

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.


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.