Julian has always had an interest in astronomy over many years, but
decided to take it further by studying for a doctorate in astrophysics
at Nottingham University. There he studies computer models of galaxy
formation using some of the biggest computers in the world, and builds
model universes using mostly dark matter. He is also a keen amateur
taking photographs of various astronomical objects, but is brought back
to earth by his department colleagues who get to use some of the biggest
telescopes yet built with tracking to die for.
TITLE: 'Galaxies - One Gigayear at a time'
What are galaxies, how are they classified, how are they formed, what do we understand about their lives, and how many pretty pictures can I fit in one talk?
Roberto Trotta is a theoretical cosmologist in the Astrophysics Group of Imperial College London, where he is a Reader in Astrophysics (equivalent to Associate Professor in the US), and the Director of Imperial’s Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication.
Between 2013 and 2017 he has been an STFC Public Engagement Fellow, in which capacity he designed and ran the public engagement programme 'The Hands-On Universe.' He is a co-founder and director at Data Fusion Consultants, offering statistical consultancy and custom-made data analysis solutions, as well as training, for a broad variety of clients. I work as a scientific consultant with museums, writers, film makers and artists, providing the help and support they need to make their artistic creations scientifically sound.
Roberto's research in cosmology is about analysing, interpreting and making sense of cosmological observations, in order to learn more about the properties and nature of dark matter and dark energy. He is also interested in the early Universe and in developing connections between cosmology and particle physics. The goal is to learn more about the history and nature of the Universe, by using cosmology as a Universe-sized laboratory for particle and high energy physics.
As Director of the Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication, he is part of Imperial’s senior management team and provides academic lead and strategic direction for the Centre’s activities: the Imperial Horizons programme (delivering teaching in humanities subjects and languages to over 4500 undergraduates at Imperial); the Evening Classes programme; and two MSc programmes in Science Communication.
He is a science communicator and takes part in numerous public engagement with science activities, from science festivals to radio broadcasts. His first book for the public, (Basic Books) explains the Universe (‘All-There-Is’) using only the most common 1,000 words in English. For his book he was named by Foreign Policy one of the 100 Global Thinkers 2014.
Title: 'Weighing the Universe'
The cosmic microwave background is the luminous echo of the primordial explosion, the Big Bang — literally the oldest light in the Universe. Exquisitely precise measurements of this light have allowed astronomers to achieve what might seem impossible: weighing the universe, and thereby establishing the geometry of space. This lecture will explain the physics of the cosmic microwave background and the challenges in understanding where our universe came from.
Stuart Clark is an award-winning author and journalist, who specialises in bringing the complex world of astronomy to the general public. He is a columnist for The Guardian and a regular contributor to New Scientist, with a first class honours degree and a PhD in astrophysics. He is a visiting fellow at the University of Hertfordshire, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Stuart’s books have been translated into 20 languages. The Sun Kings, about the largest solar storm to strike our planet was shortlisted by the The Royal Society in London for best popular science book of 2008. His latest work, The Search for Earth’s Twin, tells the gripping story of our search to find another habitable world.
TITLE: 'The eclipse of 1919 and the rise of Einstein’s relativity'
This year is the centenary of one of the most remarkable scientific expeditions in history: Arthur Eddington’s African eclipse trip of 1919. During this trip, Eddington took measures that confirmed beyond doubt the validity of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Thus, it gave birth to modern cosmology and our recognition that the universe began in a big bang. This talk will tell the extraordinary story of Eddington’s trip and its consequences.
Martin Hendry is Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology at the University of Glasgow, where he is currently Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy. He is a senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, for which he chairs the LSC Education and Public Outreach Group, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2015 was awarded the MBE for his services to the public understanding of science.
TITLE: 'Ripples of Gravity, Flashes of Light: the Dawn of Multi-Messenger Astronomy'
The first ever direct detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometric Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo Scientific Collaborations, from the collision of two massive black holes more than a billion light years away, has been widely hailed as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the century, and led to the award of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics to three senior LIGO scientists and pioneers: Rai Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish. August 2017 then saw another spectacular discovery – as for the first time gravitational waves and light were detected from the same cosmic source: a pair of colliding neutron stars 130 million light years distant. Since those first discoveries LIGO and Virgo have detected many more cosmic collisions, and in April 2019 the detectors resumed operation, at even higher sensitivity; since then the number of candidate gravitational-wave events has continued to grow rapidly. Moreover, as we fully open this new window on the Universe, information about new candidate events is now made public almost immediately - to boost the opportunities for astronomers to identify counterpart signals observed in light or neutrinos. With these exciting new developments a new era of “multi-messenger astronomy” has well and truly dawned.
Join LIGO scientist Professor Martin Hendry as he explores the amazing technology behind the detection of gravitational waves, the exciting multi-messenger discoveries made to date – and those anticipated, as even more sensitive detectors are developed over the next decade – and what these discoveries can tell us about some of the biggest unsolved mysteries in physics and astronomy.
Carolin Crawford is the Public Astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. She used multi-wavelength observations to investigate the environments of some of the most massive galaxies in the Universe, but her research was gradually eclipsed by a growing role in the public communication of science. Carolin gives many talks every year enthusing about astronomical advances to a wide range of audiences; she also makes regular appearances on local and national radio.
TITLE: 'Telescopes of the Future'
Astronomers depend on light for their understanding of the cosmos beyond the confines of the Solar System. Many of the most exciting discoveries over the last couple of decades were made possible by new generations of telescopes, both on the ground and in space. I shall discuss the new facilities anticipated coming online over the next ten years or so - how they’ll not only change our view of the Universe, but also alter the way we do Astronomy.
Nigel Henbest is one of the UK’s leading astronomy and space popularisers, as well as a Future Astronaut with Virgin Galactic. His 40 books and over 1000 articles have been translated into 27 languages; while his 60+ television programmes have been screened worldwide. Nigel is a columnist for The Independent newspaper, and his consultancies have ranged from New Scientist magazine to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. He has also chaired the popular BBC Radio 4 science quiz, The Litmus Test.
After researching in radio astronomy at Cambridge – and a spell analysing eruptions of Mount Etna - Nigel took up a career in science writing, which expanded to include numerous media appearances. With Heather Couper and Stuart Carter he founded the leading international TV production company Pioneer Productions, where produced many award-winning documentaries.
Nigel is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and asteroid 3795 is named “Nigel” in his honour. Since signing up with Virgin Galactic, Nigel has written and broadcast extensively about his forthcoming flight.
TITLE: 'Virgin Spaceman'
Nigel signed up as an astronaut with Virgin Galactic in 2009, and has been closely involved with Richard Branson’s pioneering space company ever since. In this presentation, he provides a behind-the-scenes look how an astronaut prepares to blast off into space.
In particular, Nigel describes in gory detail the training he’s been through. First, there was the “Vomit Comet,” a plane that drops from the sky so the passengers experience weightlessness (and sometimes a dose of space-sickness, though Nigel experienced a different effect of zero-gravity...) And then there was the centrifuge, which put Nigel though forces up to six times normal gravity, to simulate the gruelling accelerations of the flight.
By way of background, Nigel relates how Richard Branson was inspired by space, and describes his own path to the stars. There’s the inside story of the tragic accident in 2014 which killed a pilot, a tour of the futurist Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, and an account of Nigel’s adventures with some of his fellow “future astronauts” - including a trip to the South Pole.
And, after the first two successful test flights to space, Nigel outlines what the future will hold...
Pete Lawrence has been a presenter on the long running BBC Sky at Night television programme since 2005. He has been an astronomical consultant for the popular BBC Stargazing Live television series since it began, and appeared on the programme in 2014 as an aurora expert. Pete also writes many of the guides used by the BBC to support the programme. He compiles and writes the monthly Star Guide for the Sky at Night Magazine as well as carrying out equipment reviews on their behalf and acting as their resident imaging expert. He has held this position since the magazine started in 2005.
Pete is highly regarded in the world of astrophotography specialising in capturing time specific events. Many of his images have been published in books, magazines and online across the world. As well as having several decades experience as an astronomical observer, he also holds an honours degree in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Leicester. As part of his astronomical duties, Pete also acts as an expert guide on specialist trips including those in search of the elusive Northern Lights and solar eclipses. He was awarded the Davies Medal by the Royal Photographic Society in 2014, for his significant contribution in the field of imaging science.
TITLE: 'An Introduction to Astrophotography'
It is with great sadness that we announce the closure of The Observatory Science Centre from 18th March 2020 until further notice.
This decision was made in the light of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and recent UK government advice, which our charity has been carefully monitoring and following.
The safety and wellbeing of our visitors, staff and volunteers is our absolute priority during this difficult time.
Given the uncertainty we are all facing, we don’t yet know when we will re-open. If you have booked group visits / upcoming events etc. we will be in contact when we return to work.
We sincerely wish good health for you and your families during these uncertain times and we can’t wait to welcome you back as we continue our 25th anniversary celebrations.
The Observatory Science Centre team
Thank you for your cooperation, understanding and support.