Forthcoming meetings

The SPA Council are currently considering our programme in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak. Please check back here before setting out for any meeting.

Our regular quarterly meetings are held in London, at the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College London. Admission is free to members, and we also welcome newcomers who want to get a taste of what we provide before they join. No need to register – just turn up. 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, 25 April 2-5 pm. Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College, London. Meeting cancelled 

Sunday, 3 May Course postponed until further notice

Starting from Scratch one day course: Astrophotography for Beginners, Northampton. The basics of all types of astrophotography in a single day, with Mary McIntyre, Prof Ian Morison and Robin Scagell. Admission charge for members of SPA and BAA £10. See here for details.

Saturday, 20 June Course postponed until further notice

Advanced planetary photography course (held in conjunction with the British Astronomical Association). For those with experience in planetary imaging who wish to take their skills to the next level. Admission charge for SPA and BAA members £5. See here for details.

Saturday, 25 July 2-5 pm. Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College, London. (details below)

Artist’s impression of the ExoMars  rover Rosalind Franklin. Copyright: ESA/ATG medialab

Our main speaker, Dr Susanne P Schwenzer of the Open University, is a planetary scientist who has been researching Mars and rocks from Mars for the past 25 years. She has worked with Martian meteorites, data from the Viking instruments and the Mars Exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and is currently a member of the science team of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory Rover Curiosity. She will report on the latest findings of the Curiosity mission, and look forward to two missions about to go to Mars in the next two launch windows: the NASA Mars2020 Perseverance rover and the ESA Rosalind Franklin rover. As a member of AstrobiologyOU, she will also consider what it takes to look for life – especially with a rover on another planet!

Following the break, Robin Scagell will outline some of the events in the sky for the next three months, and Bob Mizon, of the Commission for Dark Skies, will talk about Brexit and the Stars. This covers the whole subject of light pollution including recent developments with LEDs and the dreaded Starlink satellites. Are our politicians looking at what really matters, such as the destruction of the world’s insects by stray light, among other things?

Meetings of the society will also take place in 2020 on 31 October and in 2021 on 30 January and 25 April.

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

SPA meetings are held on the last Saturday of January, April, July and October, normally in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre of University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.

The nearest tube station is Euston Square (Circle and Metropolitan lines). Turn left on leaving the barrier, which brings you to the top of Gower Street. Walk 150 m down Gower Street and the entrance to UCL is on your left:

Enter the quadrangle and cross to the door on the far right. This area is publicly accessible, and there is no need to sign in or report to security:

Climb the stairs to your right to the 2nd floor, or take the nearby lift:

The Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre is nearby, with its main entrance through double doors. There are a few steps up to this, but there is a wheelchair lift should it be needed:

About the meetings

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. Meetings close at 5 pm.

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