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The Observatory Science Centre
Herstmonceux
Hailsham
East Sussex
BN27 1RN
Tel: 01323 832731
Fax: 01323 832741

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Speakers 2017

Please note that there have been changes to the list of speakers and this final list is different from that published in popular astronomy magazines.
Saturday 2nd September
Pete Lawrence (astrophotographer, writer and BBC Sky at Night presenter)

Saturday 2nd September 10.45am

Pete Lawrence has presented the observing section on the long running BBC Sky at Night television programme since 2004. He also compiles and writes the monthly Sky Guide for the Sky at Night Magazine and the Night Sky column for the Daily Telegraph. He is an expert guide for many aurora and eclipse chasing tours.

Pete is highly regarded in the world of astrophotography specialising in capturing time specific events like eclipses and meteor showers. Many of his images have been published in books, magazines and in websites across the world. In 2014 he was awarded the Davies Medal for significant contribution in the digital field of imaging science by the Royal Photographic Society.

Title: 'Anatomy of a Solar Eclipse'

Anatomy of a Solar Eclipse will describe the thrilling and spectacular phenomena that occur before, during and after a total eclipse of the Sun.
Dr Chris Byrnes (University of Sussex)

Saturday 2nd September 12.15pm

Chris made all of his formal Education in the UK, starting with the Rudolf Steiner school South Devon, moving on to Exeter College for A-levels, then Cambridge to study maths including part III, and finally the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG), Portsmouth for his PhD.

After this he was restless and spent the next five years abroad, four of them in Germany, divided between Heidelberg (straight out of a Hansel and Gretel fairy tale) and Bielefeld, famous only for not existing! His final year abroad was at CERN, the worlds largest and most powerful laboratory, although his research remained firmly above ground, with a view of Mt Blanc.

From October 2012, he has been a Royal Society University Research Fellow in Sussex University, researching cosmology (mainly how to test theories of the early universe).

Title: 'Quantum mechanics in the sky: How the smallest and largest scales are related'

The solar system is just a tiny dot in the Milky Way, itself only one of billions of galaxies which we have observed. Despite the severe limits of Humankind’s attempts to travel through the Universe, we believe we now know both the age and size of the observable Universe. I will explain the evidence leading us to this bold claim, and how we understand the birth of galaxies to have started with microscopic quantum mechanical fluctuations a split second after the big bang.

Professor Chris Lintott (University of Oxford and BBC Sky at Night presenter)

Saturday 2nd September 2.15pm

Chris Lintott is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford, where he is also a research fellow at New College. His research centres on trying to understand the evolution of galaxies, but he dabbles in planet hunting and thinks a lot about how to use data from the next generation of survey telescopes. As Principal Investigator of the Zooniverse, he leads a team who run the world's most successful citizen science projects, allowing more than a million people to discover planets, transcribe ancient papyri or explore the Serengeti. A passionate advocate of the public understanding of science, he is best known as co-presenter of the BBC's long running Sky at Night program and the author, with Queen guitarist Brian May and Sir Patrick Moore of two books, both available in more than 13 languages.

Title: 'Peas to Penguins: Ten Years of Galaxy Zoo'
Galaxy Zoo is now arguably the world’s best-known online citizen science project, and is certainly the one with the largest number of publications based on citizen scientists input. Our success inspired the creation of The Zooniverse, hosting project using the same technique across many research areas.

It all started back in July 2007, with a data set made up of a million galaxies imaged by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, who still provide some of the images in the site today. With so many galaxies, we assumed it would take years for visitors to the site to work through them all, but within 24 hours of launch we were stunned to be receiving almost 70,000 classifications an hour. In the end, more than 50 million classifications were received by the project during its first year, contributed by more than 150,000 people.
Ninian Boyle FRAS (astronomer, writer, broadcaster)

Saturday 2nd September 3.45pm 

Ninian Boyle is an experienced astronomer and writer and he is a contributor to Astronomy Now Magazine and other astronomical periodicals. He ran the telescope equipment company ‘Venturescope’ for 15 years and now devotes his time to educational matters, as he wants to encourage others in what he describes as the ‘best hobby in the world’. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the British Astronomical Association and lectures and teaches in Planetariums and to local astronomical societies. In 2006 Ninian founded the website www.astronomyknowhow.com set up to provide amateur astronomers right around the world with valuable materials and resources. He likes nothing more than observing and imaging the Sun from his own observatory on the south coast of England.

Title: ‘A (potted) History of the Telescope’.

This talk takes a look at the origins and invention of the telescope, which may give you a surprise(!) and the possible future of this tool of the astronomer.
Sunday 3rd September
Jane Green FRAS (author, broadcaster and registered school's speaker) 

Sunday 3rd September 10.45am (FAMILY FRIENDLY)

Head-hunted for her international award-winning business skills, Jane’s career began at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but she took the ‘road less travelled by’ and went to sea instead, becoming a senior officer for sixteen years with a leading British cruise line. Whilst sailing the world her love for astronomy began. Armed with a Degree course in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences, nightly cocktail parties soon became astronomical tours and subsequent successful theatre lectures.

An elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS), she is a presenter, motivational speaker, best-selling author, broadcaster and registered schools speaker, weaving her special magic for select clients in corporate team-building events to capacity audiences of all ages.

Jane co-presented the pioneering theatre show TOUR OF THE UNIVERSE – a national tour that included the presenters of BBC television’s Sky at Night programme and other high-profile guests and was described by Professor Chris Lintott as ‘A first, and a triumph!’.

A guest on BBC Radio Four Midweek, and BBC Two’s Stargazing Live, as well as national and regional BBC Radio, she is currently resident astronomer for BBC Sussex & Surrey Radio, Uckfield 105FM and a co-host of Astronomy FM: Under British Skies.

Having also co-presented with the late Sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS, celebrities and media professionals, she was invited to be the Inaugural Speaker for the Sir Patrick Moore Memorial Lecture at Holmewood House School, the school where Sir Patrick himself taught for eight years.

She has been featured in various astronomy publications and scripted a live television/theatre interview with the second man on the moon, US astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin.

Her book, the Haynes Astronomy Manual, is an international bestseller and a new edition has recently been released.

Jane’s motto is ‘Look up, Live it, Love it!’ Her enthusiasm for planet Earth and the science of astronomy is infectious. She adores her subject and knows that you will too. For more information www.janegreenastronomy.co.uk

Title: 'Never in a Million Years'

Jane is a natural, eloquent and captivating speaker who possesses that rare ability to communicate the complexities of astronomy in a warm and easy to understand way. She makes the ‘ungraspable’ graspable so why not join her for an insightful voyage into the ‘unknowable’ Universe?

With stunning audio visuals and the latest movie footage, allow Jane to deconstruct the seemingly complex, de-mystify meaningless phrases and uncloak the darkest wonders of the cosmos to ultimately share what inspires her most … perspective, grandeur and beauty on the most majestic scale of all.

This journey begins and ends with ‘nothing’. What could possibly fill the ‘space’ in between? Perhaps ‘something’ you might never have considered … never in a million years.

Craig Leff (MSSL, UCL)

Sunday 3rd September 12.15pm


Craig Leff works at University College London's Mullard Space Science Laboratory (UCL/MSSL), where he is a project manager for ExoMars PanCam, a colour stereo camera for the 2020 ExoMars rover mission.  Previously, Craig worked for nearly 20 years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where he was involved in several planetary missions, including the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Project.  He spent five years on MER working on both development and operational phases of the mission, including more than 900 sols (Martian days) of surface operations.  Before joining MSSL, Craig also worked in Madrid on the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), the meteorology instrument onboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), aka Curiosity.

TITLE: 'ExoMars 2016 & 2020, PanCam, and Roving on Mars'

The first mission of ESA's ExoMars programme arrived at Mars on October 19th 2016, consisting of the Trace Gas Orbiter plus an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module, known as Schiaparelli. This will be followed by the ExoMars Rover mission to be launched in 2020, with strong UK involvement in both the rover and her instruments. This talk will cover the ExoMars 2016 and 2020 missions, but with an emphasis on the rover -- not just the science goals, but how human operators interact with a robot explorer on the surface of another planet.
Professor Richard Nelson (Queen Mary University of London)

Sunday 3rd September 2.15pm

Richard Nelson is a Professor of Astronomy and Mathematics in the Astronomy Unit at Queen Mary University of London. His research is largely theoretical in nature, and focusses on understanding the origin and evolution of planetary systems.

Title: 'The hunt for Proxima b - the nearest habitable exoplanet?'


The first planet orbiting a Sun-like star outside of our Solar System was discovered in 1995. Since this time more 2000 “exoplanets” have been discovered by a variety of detection methods. In August 2016, astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-mass planet orbiting in the so-called habitable zone of Proxima Centauri - the nearest star to our Solar System. During the talk I will give a brief history of the search for exoplanets, describe how exoplanets are found, and discuss how the planet “Proxima b” was discovered and what it means for finding life in the Universe and human interstellar travel.