Winter Talks

The programme for 2015-2016 starts on Monday 26th October 2015.

Talks run on Monday evenings from 7:30pm-8:30pm, in the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Lecture Theatre.

SEAT RESERVATION Booking is not required for the talks and tickets can be bought on the door, however seat reservation is encouraged. Seat reservations can be made up to a month in advance, and talks which are fully reserved will be noted below. Tickets for unreserved seats and any seats not occupied ten minutes before the start of the talk can be bought on the door. To reserve a seat please follow the link below the appropriate talk. Reserved seats will be held until 7:20pm on the night of the talk, you must be seated at this time. If you are having trouble reserving a seat please call 0131 6688 404. Payment will be taken at the door in cash only.

 

To cancel Winter Talks seat reservation please sign in to eventbright, select the relevant ticket and click on cancel this order.

Season tickets will be available from the start of the series. Please note a season ticket does not guarantee a place at each talk.

Tickets: £3 for adults, £1.50 for children/concessions. Season tickets: £20 for adults, £10 for children/concessions. Please note tickets are sold on the door cash only.

If you would like a paper copy of the programme, please email us at vis@roe.ac.uk with your postal address and we will send one out to you (we do not share our mailing list with any other organisations).

2015 - 2016 Programme

Winter talks seat reservations will only be held until 7.20pm sharp to allow those who have not reserved to be seated by the start time. If you are not seated by 7.20pm you may lose your place.

 

*Monthly ‘What’s Up?’ Talks – putting the science into stargazing. A monthly guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science behind what you are seeing. Feel free to bring questions along with you. These sessions will be BSL interpreted.

Please read above for details on seat reservation process.
 

8th February 2016

The Discovery of Quasars

Ian Robson

We now know that quasars are the most powerful objects in the Universe, being powered by supermassive black holes at the heart of a galaxy. However, this discovery is only 50 years old and how it came about was the result of the new field of radio astronomy and some determined work by optical astronomers. But once the first quasar had been optically identified, it promptly caused a huge split amongst astronomers, those who thought it was ‘local’ and those who thought it was at the extremes of the Universe. The story of this discovery and subsequent solution to the dichotomy is one of the great epics of astronomy.

Seat reservation full

15th February 2016

A New Era in Radio Astronomy: The Square Kilometer Array

Alasdair Thomson

Scheduled to begin operations in 2020, the Square Kilometer Array will be by far the largest and most powerful radio telescope ever constructed. In this talk, I will discuss some of the key science questions which have motivated eleven nations (including the UK) to commit to building this facility, and will also outline the challenges involved in building a telescope that will span two continents, and which will generate data at up to 100 times the rate of global internet traffic.

Seat reservation full

22nd February 2016

The Discovery of Pluto

Clive Davenhall

This talk will describe the discovery of Pluto in the early months of 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a young staff astronomer at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. It will also place this discovery in its historical context within the charting of the outer Solar System, from the accidental discovery of Uranus in 1781 by William Herschel, through the prediction and discovery of Neptune and the subsequent search for a ninth planet to contemporary studies of trans-Neptunian objects and the Kuiper Belt.

Seat Reservation will open Monday 8th Feb

29th February 2016

*What's Up?

Ali, Martin, Will

Putting the science into stargazing. A monthly guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science behind what you are seeing. Feel free to bring questions along with you.

Seat Reservation will open Monday 8th Feb

7th March 2016

Detectors in astronomy: from human eye to the modern electronic sensors

Naidu Bezawada

A historical overview of the detectors employed to record astronomical observations from human eye, through photographic films, early electronic detectors to the state-of-the-art electronic sensors in optical and infrared astronomy, highlighting their inventions and the revolutionary advancements transforming research in astronomy.

Seat Reservation will open Monday 22nd Feb

14th March 2016

New science from old stellar systems

Anna Lisa Varri

The study of globular star clusters has been an active area of research for more than half a century, but every year new science emerges from the investigation of the properties of these old stellar systems. I will present some recent exciting discoveries about stellar evolution, stellar dynamics, and black hole physics, which have tremendously enriched our understanding of these fascinating stellar systems.

Seat Reservation will open Monday 22nd Feb

21st March 2016

How do we get stars?

Pamela Klaassen

The full lifecycle of stars (birth, life and death) plays a key role in the evolution of our Galaxy and others. In this talk, we will explore the often hidden world of the birth of stars. Delving deep into the darkest cores within interstellar molecular clouds, we will look at how protostars are shaped by, and shape their surroundings, and how they end up as fully formed stars and planetary systems.

Seat Reservation will open Monday 7th March

28th March 2016

*What's Up?

Ali, Martin, Will

Putting the science into stargazing. A monthly guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science behind what you are seeing. Feel free to bring questions along with you.

Seat Reservation will open Monday 7th March


Previous Talks

 

1st February 2016

Gaia: the billion star survey telescope

Nicholas Rowell

The Gaia space telescope is the modern incarnation of a very ancient tradition in astronomy: the accurate measurement of the positions of stars. Over the course of it's five year mission, Gaia will scan the entire night sky seventy times over, and construct a precise three dimensional map of the positions and space motions of around one billion stars in the Milky Way. This talk will include a broad introduction to the Gaia space telescope, the basic design and observing principles, the current mission status after two years in space, and some of the science that we can expect from it.

25th January 2016

*What's Up?

Ali, Martin, Will

Putting the science into stargazing. A monthly guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science behind what you are seeing. Feel free to bring questions along with you.

18th January 2016

Discoveries and their Discoverers

David Nisbet

Three important advances in our understanding of the universe have come from (i) the development of the Harvard classification of stars, (ii) the discovery of the maximum mass of a white dwarf and the spectacular consequences if that mass is exceeded, and (iii) the discovery of the first AGN. Each of these breakthroughs had an interesting personal story attached to them. This talk will discuss the scientific background to the discovery, its importance and the personal story involved.

11th January 2016

Adaptive Optics – Removing Atmospheric Blurring

Noah Schwartz

Why do stars twinkle at night? Discover the techniques engineers use to improve image quality of ground-based optical and infrared astronomy. See some of the solutions now in development, and find out how this technology can be used in applications outside of astronomy

14th December 2015

*What's Up?

Ali, Martin, Will

Putting the science into stargazing. A monthly guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science behind what you are seeing. Feel free to bring questions along with you.

7th December 2015

Hunting The Dragon

Andy Lawrence

Mysterious things are going on in the very centres of galaxies - radiation from infrared to X-rays, high velocity ionised gas, and jets of plasma squirted out into intergalactic space. Huge amounts of energy are pouring out of a tiny spot no bigger than our solar system. Over several decades we have been slowly pinning down the nature of this fire-breathing dragon. We think its all down to the presence of a supermassive black hole - but how does that really work, and how can we be sure?

30th November 2015

*What's Up?

Ali, Martin, Will

Putting the science into stargazing. A monthly guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science behind what you are seeing. Feel free to bring questions along with you.

23rd November 2015

The First Stars: Prehistoric Beasts from the Early Universe

Britton Smith

Thirteen and a half billion years ago, the Universe was a very different place. Almost none of the elements needed for life were present. All of the normal matter in the Universe was in the form of Hydrogen and Helium. When the very first stars formed out of this primordial gas, they lived exotic lives, had violent deaths, and the Universe was never the same again. Learn about these prehistoric beasts and how astronomers use the world's largest supercomputers and most advanced telescopes to study them.

16th November 2015

Why Astronomers Need Engineers

David Pearson

Astronomers are an ambitious bunch, and they don’t like to let practical constraints get in the way of testing a good theory. The problem comes when they have to have that awkward conversation about getting a new instrument developed. It usually involves words such as ‘bigger’, ‘more sensitive’, ‘quicker’ and ‘cheaper’. This talk is about how astronomers keep the engineers on their toes, and how their fascinating ideas provide fascinating challenges down here on Earth.

9th November 2015

Will we ever talk to aliens?

Charles Cockell

There is enormous optimism that one day we will meet and greet aliens either by long-distance communication or a face-to-face encounter.

However, it's not clear that we can ever reach the stars in reasonable time periods or, even if we try, that we can survive such journeys. In this talk Charles Cockell will explore the idea that we might be forever isolated.

2nd November 2015

Large Scale Structure in 2015

Michael Wilson

The relative positions and velocities of galaxies today encode the formation history of the Universe. I will focus on where we are in understanding this key source of information, what early ideas formed the starting point for this branch of research and in what direction the data is driving us. Most importantly we will discuss the arguments in this area that cosmologists spend their careers debating.

26th October 2015

Beginners Guide to Stargazing

Have you ever wondered what that bright object in the sky is? Or how to find your favourite galaxy in the night sky? Al, Martin and William will introduce you to the fundamentals of stargazing. This session will be BSL interpreted.