Popular Astronomy

Join the SPA Now

Moon Today

The phase of the moon for today. Updates every 4 hours
Courtesy U.S.N.O.

Sky Tonight

See how the sky will look tonight with our Sky Chart

Popular Astronomy

Popular Astronomy Magazine - July-September 2017
See what's in the July-September 2017 edition of 'Popular Astronomy' magazine. Click the cover to find out.

Follow popastro on Facebook 

Follow popastro on Twitter 

Forthcoming meetings

Our regular quarterly meetings are held in London, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) which is part of the University of London. Admission is free. Details of how to get there, with maps, are given below. Other events are occasionally held around the country, in which case details of their location will be given. All talks are presented at a popular level and should be understandable by anyone with an interest in astronomy.

Saturday 29 July 20172 pm. Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, London (details below).

Dr Manish Patel (Open University) speaks on “Searching for signs of life with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter”

The ExoMars TGO mission, which arrived in Mars orbit last October, is a trailblazer for a further ExoMars rover mission in 2020. By searching for methane and other minor constituents of Mars's atmosphere, TGO is aimed at furthering our understanding of whether life ever arose on Mars, and may indeed still be present. 

Manish Patel is Co-Principal Investigator on the NOMAD instrument on the  ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and a Co-Investigator on several other experiments on the orbiter and the rover. His research interests include astrobiology, planetary surfaces and atmospheres, and hypervelocity impacts in the Solar System.

After the break, Robin Scagell will talk about total solar eclipses. Many people will be visiting the US in August to view a much-anticipated total solar eclipse. Robin will explain how solar eclipses occur, why they are so rare, and how to view them. Even if you don't go to the US, there is a chance of seeing the event on 20 August from the UK, so be prepared.

London meetings will also be held on Saturday 28 October 2017 and Saturday 27 January 2018. Details to come.

Other national events

An updated list of major star parties and conventions is maintained on our Forum.

Meeting videos

You can view videos of the main talks at meetings on your computer. Just click on the image at right to see what's currently available. There are videos of talks about all aspects of astronomy there – they'll keep you entertained for hours!

Society Meetings – Regular Venue


SPA meetings are held on the last Saturday of January, April, July and October in the Khalili Lecture Theatre of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG. When you leave Russell Square station, turn left and cross the road straight away. SOAS is on the far corner of Russell Square. Use the entrance marked, which is opposite the Brunei Gallery.Members and their friends are welcome, and entry is free of charge. Members should please remember to bring their membership cards or a copy of Popular Astronomy.

When you enter the SOAS building, please sign in as a visitor to the university at the reception desk, where you will be given a visitor sticker which you should keep visible, and go through the entry gate. The lecture theatre is downstairs – look for the SPA signs. We also have our own signing-in book before you enter the lecture theatre. Meetings start at 2.00pm and last until 5.00pm, including a break for refreshments.

The first section of each meeting is generally taken up by a talk from a guest speaker, while the second has shorter items on current astronomical events, and possibly reports from sections. Prior to the meeting, and during the break, refreshments including tea, coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches are usually available from the Student Union cafeteria though this is subject to closure outside University terms.

Here is a Google map of the venue to help you with directions:



Sat, 22 Jul 2017   - Bright new Russian 'star'

Fri, 16 Jun 2017   - Midsummer clouds shine

Fri, 09 Jun 2017   - Jupiter as you've never seen it before