Mid-Kent Astronomical Society
The James Irwin Observatory is
Currently Closed
Pending Decision to Reopen

TONIGHT

Check here after 19:30 tonight to get final confirmation before travelling in case clouds prevent us opening.
See EVENTS page for details

EVENTS
DATEDETAILS
TONIGHT

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.
DETAILS
31-May

Caroline Beevis: A Tour of The Southern Skies: Southern Hemisphere Constellations & Stars, Star Clusters and Local Star Lore
Bredhurst Village Hall

Having been guest astronomer in the Namib Desert on several occasions, I got to know the Southern Hemisphere skies fairly well. I learned much about what sorts of night-sky objects were of most interest to the many visitors to the lodge, as well as discovering some 'star lore' from local Namibians.

Here we take a brief tour of the most southerly constellations and deep-sky objects of beauty and interest, including the history of constellation names and exotic deep sky objects, both from the perspective of indigenous peoples across the Southern oceans as well as the historical explorations of the Southern World by the early Northern Hemisphere nautical explorers. Modern day images from some of world’s best telescopes, as well as some of my own humble photos will reveal some of the most beautiful objects to see in the Southern skies.

So if you've never been to the Southern Hemisphere, or maybe if you visited there a long time ago or more recently, come along and find out about what I consider to be the most beautiful and inspiring area of the entire night sky. After the tea-break there will also be a short, five-minute fun 'Generation Game'-style free-for-all quiz!

Caroline Beevis

Caroline's interest in the stars has taken her to such far-flung places as Namibia, where she was guest astronomer at a luxury lodge in the heart of the Namib Desert - you can see some of her Namibia photos here
... and closer to home, Chichester, where she has been involved with the South Downs Planetarium for over ten years. When Caroline is not stargazing, she is teaching guitar to children or riding her motorbike!


07-Jun
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
14-Jun

Prof Alan Aylward: A sceptics' view of climate change
Bredhurst Village Hall

As an Atmospheric Physicsist, I was interested to hear the barrage of information coming out on the topic of Climate Change, especially the way it was tied in to anthropogenic causes. I occasionally came across the web sites of more sceptical observers and wondered how they could continue in the face of the evidence presented against them.

So I downloaded some of their arguments with a view to debunking them: I was an atmospheric physicist so this should be easy, right? Only I found I had trouble finding the 'basic' flaws in their arguments. So I tried presenting their arguments to fellow scientists and to my students on the basis 'we all know this stuff is wrong, so what is the basic flaw'? Surprisingly few wanted to take on this challenge. So over the years of presenting this I find myself still with no killer 'skeptic-bashing' argument.

The temperature record is fairly (though not entirely) clear, but most of the predictions leading on from this are based on numerical models, and I know as a modeller myself how complex these can be and how easy to get the answer you want or expect by the right combination of input and algorithm. So I end up being able to say: yes the climate is changing, but it has always changed. Is it caused by man? Well, maybe, but there are a lot more uncertainties than the 'establishment view' would have you believe. There is a bandwagon effect in science that we must beware of. That is not to say we should ignore the warnings we get about climate change: we should be a bit more wary about some of the conclusions we draw though.


Prof Alan Aylward

Having read Natural Sciences at Cambridge I came to UCL in 1971 to do a Diploma in Space Science, then worked for a year in British Aircraft Corporation working on a zero-g propellant tank, came back to UCL to do research and then spent some time as a technical consultant in the computer time-sharing industry. An opportunity then came up to combine computing and science by working as a programmer helping to develop the software on the EISCAT (European Incoherent SCATter) radar installation in northern Scandinavia. After a stint as head programmer Alan came back to the UK and worked as a consultant on EISCAT to the universities with the UK research council at Rutherford Appleton Lab, and eventually took up a position at University College London in the Atmospheric Physics Laboratory, which he was head of from 1994 until I retired recently. Alan currently has an Emeritus post there (running a couple of research projects) and part-own a Tea-Shop!
While at APL their programme started as research into the earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere - the aurorae and Space Weather - both by observation using ground-based instruments and by modelling. They then developed from there into modelling and observations of the other planets - aurorae on Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus for example, plus a model of the Martian upper atmosphere. Then in the late ’90s when the first exoplanet, 51 PegB, was discovered they joined the controversy as to whether it could be stable by modelling it using a modified version of their Jupiter model (and showing there was indeed a good reason why it could be stable for billions of years).
That led to more modelling of exoplanets and then observations, and designing a satellite-based exoplanet observatory (which unfortunately ESA did not select, though they continue to develop the ideas).
Alan still works on Space Weather effects, partly with his own consultancy, and retains an interest in all the areas APL/UCL are involved in.


21-Jun
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
28-Jun

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.


05-Jul
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
12-Jul

Prof David Rees: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission (Part 1) How we nearly didn't land on the Moon!
Bredhurst Village Hall

This talk will go through some of the challenges facing both the engineers and the astronauts as they attempted to fulfil John F Kennedy's stated ambition of "achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. "

Despite Kennedy's stated ambition the USA space programme was not in good shape and there were to be many technical challenges and disasters on the way. Amazing to think that today's mobile phones have more computing power than was avaialble to the lunar astonauts at that time.

And as for the astonauts' return journey it was a once only chance!

In this talk David explains the background to the space programme, the competition with the Russians in the Cold War and how the iconic mission may have failed with disasterous consequences.

After the meeting we hope to observe the Moon if conditions allow.

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.


19-Jul
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
26-Jul

Prof David Rees: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission (Part 2 )
Bredhurst Village Hall

In his second talk celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing David will cover many aspects of the mission and explain how its success subsequently paved the way for even more ambitious space exploration. The talk will include videos and will be fascinating for both those too young to remember the event and for those of us around at the time who want to be reminded of this incredible feat of human achievement.

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.


28-Jul

AstroCamp
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.

16-Aug
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
18-Aug

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).

WATER ROCKETS:
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!


23-Aug
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
30-Aug
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
06-Sep
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
13-Sep

Graham Finch - So you want to buy a telescope!
Bredhurst Village Hall

We have received a number of requests about how to choose and set up a telescope. This talk will provide a basic introduction into the different types of telescopes avaialble, the essential accessories that are needed and how to set up and use a telescope.

This talk will be helpful to newcomers to astronomy and especially to those contemplating buying their own telescope.

A selection of telescopes and accessories will be available in the hall for first hand examination and if the weather permits we will be using them to observe after the talk.

If you already have a telescope and are having trouble using it let us know the problem and then bring it along and we will try to help you.



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!




20-Sep
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
27-Sep

Prof Ian Morison - Proving Einstein right
Bredhurst Village Hall

Proving Einstein Right.

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.


04-Oct
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
11-Oct

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!




18-Oct
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
25-Oct
Arthur Fentaman & Rob Lines: A simple guide to lunar, planetary and 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.

Arthur and Robert will provide a beginners' guide on how to obtain stunning images of the moon, the planets and deep sky objects. They will explain what equipment is needed and the different techniques needed to acquire and process the data and how to reduce the effects of light pollution.

Robert and Arthur have produced some excellent images and Arthur has had several lunar and planetary images published in Astronomy Now magazine



Arthur Fentaman

Arthur is a published astrophotographer and active MKAS member.

To see some of his published work you can visit
http://astrophotomag.com/issue28/#/44
and while you are at it, read the rest of the Amateur Astophotography Ezine.


01-Nov
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
08-Nov

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.


15-Nov
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
22-Nov
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
29-Nov
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.


06-Dec
DETAILS
Public Observing Open Evening
James Irwin Observatory, Canterbury
13-Dec

Christmas Social
Bredhurst Village Hall



  
MEETING VENUES

PUBLIC MEETINGS:
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.

OBSERVING EVENINGS:
James Irwin Observatory

Meet in the Conservatory at:
Victoria Hotel
59 London Road,
Canterbury, Kent
CT2 8JY
You will then be escorted to the observatory at 8:30pm (Oct-Mar) / 9pm (Apr-Sep)
BREDHURST MEETINGS VISITOR INFORMATION
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.

www.midkentastro.org.uk