Guildford Astronomical Society


Aerial view of the University with labels

Our meetings are held in Lecture Theatre L in the Lecture Theatre Block (Level 2) of the University of Surrey, Guildford.

Click here for a map to show you directions to the University Main Car Parks. If you’re travelling using a SatNav the postcode is GU2 7XH.

A detailed map (available here) shows the location of the Lecture Theatre Block (pale blue and near the middle of the map), Main Car Parks 1-4 and Bus Stops next to Senate House and North of the Austin Pearce Building. There are also more convenient car park spaces available for disabled drivers at various nearby locations. The University also has a web page here for newcomers to the campus.

For a preview of the lecture room see here

Meetings start at 7.30pm on the first Thursday of each month (except August when there is no meeting) and usually finish around 10pm. One or two meetings in the year, (including the AGM), are set aside for members only; these are indicated in our list of Talks for upcoming meetings.

Note for Visitors: To help cover the cost of the room hire, we charge just £5.00 (£4.00 for Junior/Student guests) per meeting. On arrival, please introduce yourself to any member of the Committee (look for their badges) — you’ll be very warmly welcomed!

Tea/Coffee (biscuits included) available in the break for just £2. However, we respectfully ask that you don’t bring any food or drinks into the lecture theatre.

If you have any special access requirements, please contact the Secretary, .

See you there…

Meeting Format

Meetings generally take one of two formats:

  • An invited expert gives a talk/presentation – illustrated and/or animated – of an aspect of astronomy. Subjects are chosen because they’re topical, practical – or just interesting to astronomers. Each year we arrange a balanced mix, covering a wide range of topics. and levels.
  • A ‘members evening’, in which members present short talks on their own interests, projects, and topics of general interest.

Occasionally, invited speakers have to cancel, (usually at extremely short notice), and at these times the meeting often takes the form of an informal quiz, a question and answer session, or a hands-on Workshop.

Typically,the main talk of the evening lasts for an hour or so, after which we have a 15-20 minute comfort break. Tea, coffee and biscuits are available from the adjoining refreshments room.

A view of the Duke of Kent Building across the lake

Following the break, the remaining time until 10pm usually features Society news and business, (such as the latest reports from the Observatory, Observing Evening Reports, etc), and a short ‘What’s on?’ feature describing events happening later in the current month.


If there’s time at the end, some members go for a drink and chat. You’re welcome to join us in the bar in Wates House (see the map).

The 2016-2017 Session

Subject to change

DateTalk/Presentation TitleSpeaker
1 Sep 2016Exploring the Non-Thermal Universe: the Cherenkov Telescope ArrayProf Tim Greenshaw
6 Oct 2016Spacecraft I Have Known and LovedProf John Zarnecki
3 Nov 2016Extraterrestrial Resources: Mining the Moon and AsteroidsProf Ian Crawford
1 Dec 2016Black Holes and Spin-offsProf Katherine Blundell
5 Jan 2017Variable Stars: a vital area of observing for amateur astronomersGuy Hurst
2 Feb 2017The digital window to the Universe: Using computers to understand the CosmosDr Ramón Rey Raposo
2 Mar 2017Astronomy and Sex: the historical relationship between Women and the CosmosProf David W Hughes
6 Apr 2017The Greatest Light Show on EarthDr Colin Forsyth
4 May 2017Is there Life on Proxima b?

NB: This is a change to the previously advertised talk.

Last year was remarkable in many ways but two events, unnoticed by many, may prove more significant in the long term than Brexit, Donald Trump or even the Brangelina break-up. In April of 2016, the world’s most famous living scientist (Stephen Hawking), and two of its richest men (Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerburg) held a press-conference to announce a plan to send space-probes to our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, within a few decades. Then, in August, the world’s most prestigious scientific journal published research showing that Proxima Centauri (the nearest member of the Alpha Centauri system) has a habitable planet—a world called Proxima b. Together these announcements imply that we could send a spaceship to a potentially inhabited planet orbiting another star, within the lifetime of most people alive today!

In this talk I will investigate how likely it is that Proxima b is not just habitable but actually inhabited (whether by green slime or little green men). I’ll do this by taking a “Copernican perspective” (i.e. I will assume that Earth is a typical inhabited planet) and explain why this strongly implies that worlds, such as Proxima b, that orbit red dwarfs are probably uninhabited. However, the only way to be sure is to take a good look and so I’ll also talk about how we can do that from a distance already and how we might be able to do it close-up, with a space-probe, as early as the 2060s.

Prof David Waltham
Dept of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway College, University of London
1 Jun 2017From Quark to the CosmosProf Ian Shipsey
Head of Particle Physics
University of Oxford
6 Jul 2017Members Only
AGM & Members Presentations
GAS Committee & Members
Aug 2017Note: There is no meeting in August 

Click here to see the profiles of past and forthcoming speakers.

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