2018 Archive

8th January  –  Back to Basics  :  Nick Busby, AAS  :  This session is to help you find your way around the night sky, identify constellations and patterns in the stars and remember them.  Finding your way around the sky is a skill that can be learned more easily than you might think – but the learning process can be greatly accelerated when you know a few simple tricks.  Using planetarium software to simulate the night sky and worksheets that you can use afterwards on your own, we will explore the winter sky to understand how to identify, recognise and remember the signposts in the stars.

22nd January –  New Year/ Christmas party  :  We joined again with friends from Usk Society for an evening of food and fun at the Regency 59.

12th February  –  The beginners guide to the solar system  :  Nick Busby, AAS  :  Using software that models the solar system in 3D, we fly to each of the planets in turn and other objects and find out what they are made of and how it all works.

26th February  –  The Invisible Universe  :  Kevin Houston, AAS  :  Looking at what makes up the Universe.  Topic based on BBC Sky at Night programme, January 2018.

12th March  –  AGM

26th March  –  Dark Galaxies  :  Prof. John Davies, Cardiff University, School of Astrophysics and Astronomy  :  Prof Davies current research interests are cosmic dust, low surface brightness galaxies and the history of astronomy in Wales.

9th April  –  Cosmology Discussion Group  :  Where do all the elements come from?  :  A discussion of how the universe, which started as an extremely hot and dense “soup” of fundamental particles and forces, first produced Hydrogen, Helium and Lithium and then all of the other elements than we see today enabling the creation of stars, galaxies, planets and life.  Plus News of the Month items.

23rd April  –  The Cassini Mission to Saturn  :  Dr Keith Moseley FRAS, C Phys, M Inst P, MARS (Monmouth Astronomy Research Society)  :  The Cassini Mission, launched in 1997, investigated Saturn and its moons between 2003 and 2017. During this period Saturn transited from northern hemisphere winter, through equinox to southern hemisphere winter. This revealed surprising behaviours within Saturn’s atmosphere and magnetic field. Cassini also swung past all of Saturn’s larger moons, dropped a probe on to Titan’s surface and observed changes in Saturn’s rings. Arguably, this was the most successful planetary mission ever.

14th May  –  Ancient Astronomy: megaliths, landscapes and cosmologies  :  Prof. Mike Edmunds, Cardiff University, School of Astrophysics and Astronomy  :  Prof. Mike Edmunds is always one of our most popular speakers.  He is lead academic on the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, a device made in Greece 2,000 years ago.  In this talk he will discuss how much was known about astronomy in ancient times, before the written word? Did people worry about what happened in the sky? What was their picture of the Universe? This illustrated talk will try to describe what surviving archaeological evidence may and may not be able to tell us. Stonehenge will feature – but there is a lot more besides.

15th May – Usk & Abergavenny societies visit to Jodrell Bank Observatory

28th May  –    NO MEETING     :     Spring Bank Holiday

11th June  –  What is Cosmology  :  Cosmology Discussion Group  :  Discussion of basic cosmology plus News of the Month items.

25th June  –  Gravitational Waves  :  Dr Laura Nuttall, Cardiff University, School of Astrophysics and Astronomy  :  .  Dr Nuttall is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and is co-chair of the data quality sub-group within the LIGO Detector Characterisation Group.
Abstract: The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) consists of two 4-km gravitational-wave detectors in Hanford, WA and Livingston, LA which are operated in unison by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. These detectors use laser interferometry to measure tiny ripples in space-time caused by passing gravitational waves from cataclysmic cosmic sources. Gravitational waves from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes were observed for the first time in 2015. Since then gravitational waves from similar sources have been detected five more times. In 2017, gravitational waves were observed from a brand new source; the collision of two neutron stars. Along with the gravitational waves the source was also observed across the electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma-rays to radio. These seven observations have truly opened a new era in astronomy. In this talk I will discuss the challenges of detecting gravitational waves, the LIGO detectors and the exciting discoveries we have made so far

July  –  August  :  Summer Break, NO MEETINGS

10th  Sept  –  “The trouble with telescopes”  :  Amateur telescopes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, have you ever wondered why there are so many different types and what they all do?  A look at the wide variety of instruments available to the amateur market, why there are so many different types, what they aim to do and how to choose between them.

24th Sept  –  Welcome to the Dark Side: Dark nebulae, discovery and views  :  Andy Burns, Chairman of the Wiltshire AS and co-director of the Griffin Educational Observatory, Andalucia

8th Oct  –  Topic Discussion Group  : This month rather than mainly talk about a single item there are a number of topics that have caught my eye over the last few weeks that we can explore:-
-Is there no one out there?? Exo-planets and panspermia in the news, again.
-Gaia : the 2nd data release of the 5 year mission to construct the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy
-Have we found the last of the missing ordinary matter in the universe?
-Inflation: Yes or No? How did the universe start.
-Another massive black hole discovered that is 780 million x the mass of the sun and dates from 670 M years after the big bang.
-Solar System.
-Dark Matter.

22nd Oct  –  Detecting the Invisible Universe  :  Amber Hornsby, Cardiff University  :  Amber is a third-year postgraduate researcher based in the Astronomy Instrumentation Group at Cardiff who also writes articles for Astronomy publications, including the on-line astrobites.org journal.  One aspect of her research is the detection of B-mode polarisation in the cosmic microwave background.

12th Nov  –  “Round the Table” Discussion Group  :  Various topics

26th Nov  –  Voyage to the Dawn of the Solar System  :  Chris Starr,  FRAS FBIS, IAAA, Wells & Mendip Astronomers  : Chris Starr is a space activist, writer and speaker. He worked as Head of Geography and Space Science at an international school in Switzerland.  After leaving secondary teaching in 2011 he now works in STEM outreach in the UK. He founded the Wells & Mendip Astronomers.
This talk looked at the history of the solar system focusing on NASA’s Dawn Mission. The Dawn Mission was launched in 2007 to study the asteroid belt objects Vesta and Ceres. It orbited both proto-planets and was retired in November, 2018. 

10th Dec  –  The Chelyabinsk Affair  :  Dr Elizabeth Pearson, Cardiff University.  Elizabeth has a PhD in extragalatic astrophysics.  She is the editor of the BBC “Sky at Night” magazine and has made a Channel 4 documentary, “Meteor Strike-Fireball from Space”, about this event.
As day was breaking in Siberia on the 15 February 2013, a huge meteor descended at over 60,000 kph over the Ural Mountains and exploded at an altitude of 25–30 kms over the industrial town of Chelyabinsk. It had an estimated equivalent explosive force of 500,000 tonnes of TNT. It showered space rocks down onto the surrounding landscape, drawing thousands of people to go hunting for them.

24th Dec  –    –  NO MEETING     :     Christmas Eve