in Lecture Theatre G at 7:30pm on the First thursday of the month

Our Speaker for December 2022 is

Prof. Daisuke Kawata

Professor of Astronomy at MSSL.

Archaeology of our Galaxy with Gaia

For the 2022-23 season we will be back at Surrey University, in Lecture Theatre G, the meeting will also be streamed to members via Zoom.

Joining details for Zoom of each meeting will be sent out to members prior to each talk. 

 If you are interested in becoming a member,  contact us to find out more.

If you are not sure whether you want to join right away, you can come along to a meeting as a Visitor.

We charge just £5 (£4 Junior/Student guest).

On arrival, please introduce yourself to the Membership Secretary. You will be warmly welcomed.

Surrey University map

Car Parks at C,D,E 6 are free during the evening.
Lecture Theatre Block is at D3 (#17)
(The image links to Surrey University website Campus Map)

September 1st 2022 – Prof Geraint Jones – What’s a Comet & MSSL’s Comet Interceptor Mission

Professor Geraint Jones is Head of the Planetary Science Group at MSSL.

His talk will cover MSSL’s Comet Interceptor mission to launch in 2029

“Comets are strongly deserving of in situ study as they largely preserve material formed at our Solar System’s birth. In 2019, Comet Interceptor was selected by the European Space Agency, ESA, as the first in its new class of F-class missions, and in June 2022 was approved to proceed to development and launch. The Japanese space agency, JAXA, is making a major contribution to the project.

The mission’s primary science goal is to characterise for the first time, a yet-to-be-discovered long-period comet, preferably dynamically new, or an interstellar object. An encounter with a comet approaching the Sun for the first time since its formation will provide valuable data to complement that from all previous comet missions, which visited more evolved short period comets. Planned measurements of the target include its surface composition, shape, and structure, its dust environment, and the gas coma’s composition. A unique, multi-point ‘snapshot’ of the comet- solar wind interaction region will be obtained, complementing single spacecraft observations at other comets. The talk will cover the mission’s science drivers, planned observations, and the instrument complement, to be provided by consortia of institutions in Europe and Japan. ” 

October 6th 2022 – Mary McIntyre – Lunar Sketching

Lunar Sketching with Mary McIntyre

During this workshop Mary will teach you how to sketch the Moon using pencil. During the workshop you Mary will talk you through how to create a sketch of the whole lunar disc and also how to sketch craters up close. You are strongly encouraged to sketch along as she will show you step by step, in realtime with a camera pointing at her hands. Even if you think you can’t even draw a stickman please give it a try because you may be very surprised with your results. At the end Mary will show you she approaches lunar sketching with pastels on black paper.

To take part you will need:

A few sheets of plain white paper

Pencil – HB pencils are fine but if you also have a 2B that would be great

Pencil eraser with a clean, sharp edge

Cotton buds / Q-tips for smudging and blending

A circular bowl or plate that fits onto your page that you can use to draw around

November 3rd 2022 – Katrin Raynor – Exploring Astronomy & Space through Philately

The first astronomy themed stamp dates to 1887 when Brazil issued a perforated stamp, buff and blue in colour, depicting the Southern Cross, an asterism seen in the southern hemisphere. Even throughout the 1800’s, stamps were being printed with astronomical watermarks, such as suns and stars and early stamps issued in Egypt were designed with a pyramid and star.

Over the decades, we have celebrated astronomy and space on stamps including comets, man on the moon and events in the astronomical calendar such as solar eclipses. Exploring Astronomy and Space Through Philately will take you on an out of this world journey looking at and discussing a selection of astronomy and space themed stamps that have been issued all over the world, proving that we can enjoy the wonders of the universe even on a cloudy night.

Katrin Raynor is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Royal Geographical Society and also a member of the Cardiff Astronomical Society and Astro Space Stamp Society. She writes articles and interviews for popular astronomy magazines including the BBC Sky at Night, Astronomy and Stanley Gibbons. She is co-authoring her first book and is the astronomer for the Country Focus show on BBC Radio Wales. Asteroid 446500 Katrinraynor is named after her.

December 1st 2022 – Prof Daisuke Kawata – Archaeology of our Galaxy with Gaia

Professor Daisuke Kawata is Professor of Astronomy at MSSL.
European Space Agency’s Gaia mission has made the 3rd data release (Gaia DR3) in June 2022. Gaia DR3 provides positions and proper motions for more than one billion stars and line-of-sight velocities for more than 30 million bright stars, which has revolutionised our view of the Milky Way.

I will present what we learned about the formation and evolution history of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, from the unprecedented amount of archaeological information from the Gaia data and the other complementary observational data from the other space- and ground-based telescopes in the world.

I will also introduce the future space missions to explore still hidden structures of the Milky Way even after the Gaia mission

February 9th 2023 – Chris Brockley-Blatt – Building an analyser for ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter

Chris Brockley-Blatt (Mrs) Senior Project Manager MSSL 


March 2nd 2023 – Martin Lewis – Modern Planetary Imaging

.‘The Principles of Modern Planetary Imaging’. Martin will talk about the principles underlying the best method that exists today for imaging the planets. This is high speed digital video imaging. The method uses stacks of short exposures that freeze the seeing, but at the same time effectively creates a single long exposure of such low noise that it can be usefully stretched to bring out the details. Martin explains the method and will show examples of images he has taken with home-built equipment using this method.

Martin has had a fascination for all things in the sky since he was young. He is a professional engineer and part-time planetary imager, telescope builder and deep sky sketcher. He images using his home-built 444mm and 222mm Dobsonian telescopes, both used on a home-built equatorial platform, from his garden in St.Albans, Herts. Martin was a prize-winner in the Planets section of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year from 2018-2021 – winning both first and second prize in 2018. This year he won the Our Moon category with his image ‘Shadow profile of Plato’s East Rim’. He is treasurer of the West of London AS (WOLAS) and an equipment advisor in the Equipment and Techniques section of the BAA.

May 4th 2023 – Prof Gavin Dalton – Observational cosmology

Observational cosmology and the WHT Enhanced Area Velocity Explorer

July 6th 2023 – AGM

Members Only AGM