Category : Cambridge Astronomy Association

Sir Martin Rees Lecture at CAA

Last night I attended the monthly meeting at the Cambridge Astronomy Association (CAA) at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. Tonight was a special lecture called the Michael Penston lecture.

Michael Penston was based at the Institute of Astronomy. In 1990 he was due to give a talk to the CAA, but had to cancel due to illness. Sadly, Michael died soon afterwards. In March 1991 the CAA held a lecture in memory of Michael, and a collection was made for cancer research. By the next year a fund had been set up in his name, administered by the Royal Astronomical Society, to help up-and-coming astronomers establish themselves in their chosen profession. Each year since then the CAA members are asked to make a donation to the fund after the talk.

This year’s lecture was given by Sir Martin Rees, who is a Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics and Master of Trinity College. Sir Martin holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal and also Visiting Professor at Imperial College London and at Leicester University.

Sir Martin ReesAfter studying at Trinity college, Cambridge, Sir Robert held post-doctoral positions in the UK and the USA, before becoming a professor at Sussex University. In 1973, he became a fellow of Kings College and Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy here in Cambridge (continuing in the latter post until 1991) and served for ten years (1977-82 and 1987-91) as director of the Institute of Astronomy. In 2005 he was appointed to the House of Lords, elected President of the Royal Society and last year in 2007 was awarded the Order of Merit.

The talk itself was entitled “The Next Ten Plus Years  in Cosmology” which lasted about 45 minutes, and was very interesting.  The talk was accompanied with many varied and amazing photos.  Some of the main topics covered included the possibility of a 4th dimension and how the universe may be textured.

I did want to include the talk on this post as an audio file, as I recorded the talk via my mobile phone voice recorder, but unfortunately the recording was very quiet, perhaps the application was not made for distant recordings, I should have sat a lot closer to the front.

Just to mention, the CAA and Institute of Astronomy are running a 6 week introductory course on astronomy in April and May. Hopefully I will get to see and use some of the main telescopes on site so I am planning on attending and blogging details about it once it starts. I shall try and include photos as well.

Joining the Cambridge Astronomy Association

On Friday 15th February I took a trip to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, for my first ever meeting of the Cambridge Astronomy Association.  I had viewed their website before, but something caught my eye which was a talk by Ralph Bell from Green Witch in Cambridge about imaging with a web cam and how to process it using Registax.

I did not have a clue what to expect when I arrived at 7.45pm for the talk at 8pm.  I did feel quite privileged to actually be visiting the Institute of Astronomy where actual real professional astronomers study and work, I’m sure most local astronomy groups don’t meet in such elaborate surroundings.

I was given a thoroughly warm welcome by Brian Lister the Chairman and told the basics of the site and what goes on.  The association has regular seminars, outings, open days and more.  They also have a library where you can hire books and a telescope booking system, which allows you to even borrow telescopes and use them at home.

The meeting was attended by what seemed around 50 people. Ralph’s talk lasted about 1.5hrs and thoroughly enjoyable and I was learning new things straight away. I had never really read the Registax manual but Ralph took us through the manual process which was brilliant! Ralph if your reading this can you do a seminar on the Meade DSI?

After the talk we all had tea or coffee and biscuits as well as a chat session. I originally thought I would just attend the meeting for the sum of £1, but I ended up joining for 14  months for the sum of £4.

In summary, find out about your local association or astronomy club and give it a go, you can probably learn a lot and discuss ideas with other astronomers, as the hobby of astronomy sometimes does feel a lonely one, being out on your own in the dark most nights.

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