Astronomy Talks

Talks run on Monday evenings from 7:30 – 8:30pm in the Royal Observatory Edinburgh Lecture Theatre. The programme for 2019-20 starts on Monday 14th October. If you would like a paper copy of the programme, please call us on 0131 6688 404 or email us at to request one.

Tickets must be purchased in advance through Eventbrite using the links below. Only the first 9 talks will be bookable at first, with the remaining 9 becoming available from January 2019. If you would like to book an advance ticket offline, please call us on 0131 6688 404.

You can pre-purchase an Astronomy Talks Pass (previously known as the Season Ticket) online and on the door from the start of the series.

Please note that the Astronomy Talks Pass is a discount scheme and does not guarantee a place at each talk; seats still must be reserved via Eventbrite before to attending each talk.

Astronomy Talks Leaflet [PDF/1.78 MB]

14th October 2019

Matjaz Vidmar

What’s Up: Putting the Science into Stargazing!

A beginner’s guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science of celestial sights. Feel free to bring questions along with you!

Book Tickets

28th October 2019

Martin Black

HiPERCAM - An Astronomical Speed Camera!

HiPERCAM is a unique camera mounted on the Gran Telescopio Canarias. It can take images very quickly, around 1000 per second, of rapidly changing celestial objects. This talk will cover the design and build of the instrument, at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, and some of the early science results.

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11th November 2019

Mike Peterson

Why Can’t We Find Dark Matter?

In all likelihood, undiscovered mass is lurking all around us: dark matter. So why has it eluded detection? This talk about unseen influences, will explore the evidence for dark matter, how current research has influenced the search, and future projects to find this mysterious material.

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25th November 2019

Carolyn Atkins

3D Printing: Applications Within Astronomy

From moon habitats, to telescope mirrors and astronomical objects, 3D printing has challenged our preconception of how an object should look and function. This talk will introduce the field of 3D printing and explore its application within astronomy and space science.

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9th December 2019

Ian Robson

The Pluto Story

In 2006 Pluto was declassified as a planet causing a worldwide public backlash. ‘What is a planet?’ A question that is harder to answer than you might think. This talk is a personal account of the Pluto story framed in the context of the Solar System.

Book Tickets

16th December 2019

Martin Black, William Taylor & Alastair Bruce

What’s Up: Putting the Science into Stargazing!

A beginner’s guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science of celestial sights. Feel free to bring questions along with you!

Book Tickets

13th January 2020

John Davies

New Horizons in the Solar System

The last year or so has seen a return to the heady days of the 1970’s as far as planetary exploration is concerned. This talk will present updates and science highlights from three newly explored solar system objects; Ultima Thule and two Near Earth Asteroids, Bennu and Ryugu.

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27th January 2020

Rosa Santomartino

Space Bugs – How Wee Little Creatures Help Us Understand the Cosmos

Microorganisms are everywhere, from extremely hot volcanic springs to your gut. They have successfully adapted to extreme conditions on Earth. However, the harshest environment is Space. We will explore which microbes can survive in Space, how they can achieve that and why it is important for us.

Book Tickets

10th February 2020

Matjaz Vidmar and Karina Wardak

Helping Scotland Launch to Space!

With new applications of observing the Earth from space and spaceports planned for the North, researchers, developers and entrepreneurs often need a little help to realise their vision. In this talk, we will explore the important role of intermediaries, including our Higgs Centre for Innovation, in supporting the Scottish Space Industry.

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24th February 2020

Cyrielle Opitom

Exploring Comets

This talk will explain what we learned from the Rosetta mission, and what we plan to do with a future “Comet Interceptor”. What do comets tell us about our Solar System? Are they important for life on Earth? What are the challenges in sending space missions to comets?

Bookable from Jan 2020

9th March 2020

Mario Kalomenopoulos

Ancient Greek Astronomers Vs Flat Earthers

For thousands of years astronomers have been collecting evidence that shows the Earth isn’t flat. In this talk, we will discuss different methods used by ancient Greek astronomers to calculate the shape of our planet from simple geometrical techniques to the development of the first analogue computer!

Bookable from Jan 2020

23rd March 2020

Britton Smith

What Is the Universe Made Of?

It is now well accepted that the Universe consists of about 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and 5% regular matter. This talk will show how we have developed this picture of the Universe and which pieces of the puzzle may still be missing.

Bookable from Jan 2020

13th April 2020

Sarah Appleby

The Simba Galaxy Simulations

This talk will explain how we use galaxy simulations in astronomy to make sense of real data and determine how galaxies evolve over cosmic time. The Simba simulations help astronomers to understand the impact of supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies.

Bookable from Jan 2020

27th April 2020

Teresita Suarez Noguez

The Very First Light

Are we able to see the first stars and galaxies in the Universe? How do we know they are the very first stars? These early luminous objects determined the formation of structure in our Universe that led to the distribution of matter that we observe today.

Bookable from Jan 2020

11th May 2020

Chris Frost

When the Chips Are Down! The Effect of Cosmic Rays on the Modern Electronic World

The interaction of cosmic rays with the earth’s atmosphere generates showers of particles including neutrons. These can disrupt electronic systems, particularly in aircraft and cars. A new instrument at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source will test the effects of neutrons on electronic components, enabling manufacturers to mitigate their impact.

Bookable from Jan 2020

25th May 2020

Clive Davenhall

Starlight Caught in Gelatin

This talk will describe the introduction of photography to astronomy during the later nineteenth century, and the revolution in astronomy that resulted. It will also describe the Carte du Ciel, the first photographic skysurvey, an ambitious project dating from the 1880s and an early example of international scientific collaboration.

Bookable from Jan 2020

8th June 2020

Rubén Sánchez-Janssen

Following the Photons

Join us on a billion-year journey through the cosmos. We will follow the path of light emitted by the first stars, from their birth places to the camera detectors where we finally record it. Along the way we will learn about the large telescopes and powerful instruments that enable the most astonishing astronomical discoveries.

Bookable from Jan 2020

22nd June 2020

Matjaz Vidmar

What’s Up: Putting the Science into Stargazing!

A beginner’s guide to the night sky, including a round-up of recent astronomical news and the science of celestial sights. Feel free to bring questions along with you!

Bookable from Jan 2020