Our regular quarterly meetings are held in London, at the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College London (our new venue as from January 2018). 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 28 July, 2 pm. Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College, London. (details below).
Prof David Rothery of the Open University will speak on The planet Mercury and the BepiColombo mission
In October 2018 a European and a Japanese orbiter will be launched together, designed to study Mercury from complementary orbits. The mission is called BepiColombo. The European orbiter will concentrate on the planet’s surface and interior, whereas the Japanese orbiter will focus on the magnetic field. NASA’s recent MESSENGER orbiter showed us what a weird place Mercury is, with a long and complex history of volcanic eruptions and crustal faulting. Surprisingly, for a planet so close to the Sun, its surface is rich in volatile elements. BepiColombo’s UK-led X-ray spectrometer will study these, and the dispersed products of explosive volcanic eruptions. Dave Rothery will look at what we might expect from this exciting mission.
After the interval, Graham Cluer will revisit last year’s total solar eclipse, which he observed from Nashville, Tennessee, and Deep-sky Section Director David Finnigan will update us on recent observations from the deep-sky section, including a look at some of the objects that you can see for yourself over the summer months.
Saturday 27 October, 2 pm. Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College, London. (details below).
Author Colin Stuart will speak on How We’ll Live on Mars. Humans will soon make their first trip to Mars. How will we get there? What challenges will we have to overcome and what spectacular sights await the successful? In a talk packed full of stunning visuals and the latest scientific thinking, astronomy author Colin Stuart will take you on a journey to the Red Planet to witness the majesty of a Martian sunset.
Plus talks after the interval, including Robin Scagell’s latest What’s Up in the sky.
Saturday 26 January 2019, 2 pm. Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College, London. (details below).
Dr Queenie Chan of the Open University will speak on Meteorites and the Ingredients for Life.
Earlier this year, the discovery of the ingredients for life in two meteorites that fell 20 years ago made headlines. A team headed at the Open University found compounds such as amino acids and hydrocarbons alongside liquid water within the meteorites, supporting the belief that life could originate elsewhere in the solar system. Queenie Chan, lead author of the paper which announced the discovery, will explain how they reached this conclusion, and explain its exciting implications. She will also bring along some meteorites from the OU’s collection to look at!
London meetings will also be held on Saturdays 27 April and 27 July 2019. Details to come.
SPA meetings are held on the last Saturday of January, April, July and October 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. Prior to the meeting, and during the break, refreshments are available in the Old Refectory, which is on the ground floor.
Here is a Google map of the venue to help you with directions: