Speakers 2020-22


Weekend date: Saturday 13th August 2022 from 7.30pm: Picnic and Perseid Meteor Watch

Steve Cunnington

This will be at one of our DarkSites - Details have been sent to Members
The weather forecast for Saturday is hot, the hottest day of the latest heatwave. The grass field we are going to use is bone dry and can very easily catch fire. The Fire Brigade have also asked people not to light BBQ’s.

We have therefore made the sensible decision to have a picnic instead. Due to the diverse range of ideas as to what people want at a picnic, we have decided to make it a‘bring your own’ picnic. This will also help people who might not want to turn up at 7.30pm but leave it to later when it will be cooler.

Smokers: It is really not recommended to smoke on the field. If you really need to smoke, be very careful of falling ash and do not put out cigarettes on the ground - use the bucket of water provided.

All ESAS members, their family and/or friend are invited to the annual ESAS picnic and Perseids meteor watch. 

Please bring along your own picnic food, chairs, picnic table if required, drinks and glasses.



Thursday 7th July: Paul Wright: "Henrietta Leavitt - the Overlooked Pioneer of Distance"

Steve Cunnington

This meeting and talk will be held at the Egerton Park Indoor Bowls Club.

A century ago astronomers debated whether everything that could be seen in the night sky was within our galaxy and whether the Milky Way constituted the whole universe.  Progress in understanding the scope and nature of the universe depended on being able to measure the vast distances involved.  Many key figures worked on this problem but the contribution of one of the pioneers, Henrietta Swan Leavitt was largely overlooked for many decades, an oversight which has started to be corrected in recent years.  ESAS member Paul Wright will discuss her pivotal contribution and the context of her work.


Wednesday 1st June: Dr Simon Morden: "Space Law"

Steve Cunnington

Hopefully this will be a hybrid meeting at the Manor Barn plus online ZOOM.

"Space law is an obscure and mostly ignored aspect of space exploration – but it’s helped keep the peace on Earth for over half a century and paved the way for peace in space. Founded on the principles of cooperation and the common good, the arrival of non-state space companies has begun to put an increasing strain on the existing legal framework.

This talk will attempt to cover what the regulations currently are, what they mean, and where they face the most pressure. There’ll be ethics, science, popular culture, and an unjustifiable number of cats as we explore the present and future of space missions."

"Dr Simon Morden is not an expert on space law, but he is an award-winning science fiction author and has two cats."

Gateshead-based Dr Simon Morden trained as a planetary geologist, realised he was never going to get into space, and decided to write about it instead. His writing career includes an eclectic mix of short stories, novellas and novels which blend science fiction, fantasy and horror, a five-year stint as an editor for the British Science Fiction Association, a judge for the Arthur C Clarke Awards, and regular speaking engagements at the Greenbelt arts festival. Simon has written ten novels and novellas.

Simon recently appeared on Radio Four’s ‘Four Thought’ with the subject ‘Who Owns Space?’. Simon Morden argued that we should resist the privatisation of space. 


Wednesday 4th May: Chris Woodcock: "Smartphone Imaging"

Steve Cunnington

Hopefully this will be a hybrid meeting at the Manor Barn plus online ZOOM.

Another chance to learn how to get amazing images using your phone, not a expensive camera. Chris will be sharing his skills and images with a talk on “Smartphone Imaging”. Chris shares lots of his wonderful images on our Friends of East Sussex Astronomical Society on FaceBook.


Thursday 7th April: Tony Roberts FRAS: "Astronomical Oddities"

Steve Cunnington

This meeting will be held at the Egerton Park Indoor Bowls Club.

Unfortunately it can't currently be a Hybrid Zoom meeting due to lack of WiFi facility at the Bowls Club at present.

The history of astronomy is littered with the weird, the odd and that which we know now was simple wrong. From strange telescopes, through nonexistent planets and misunderstood observations. This lecture will be a personal review of these and more.

Tony Roberts is currently Chairman at Croydon Astronomical Society since 2016. Joining the Society in the late 1970s he was part of the team that opened the Norman Fisher Observatory in 1979 and was also Chairman 1985/86. He is also Chairman and a founding member of Edenbridge & District Astronomers and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society since 1984.

Enjoying the history of astronomy his observing interest is focused on variable star and comets. Main activity across both groups is public outreach and he is a regular at the Norman Fisher Observatory public events, as well as visiting schools and youth groups to speak about astronomy as a STEM Ambassador.


3rd March 2022: Greg Smye-Rumsby: "Arrokoth"

Steve Cunnington

This meeting will be held at the bowls club. Hybrid not possible this month due to technical issues.

A return visit from another favourite speaker, Arrokoth is a trans-Neptunian object located in the Kuiper belt.


Date 3rd February 2022 : Prof. Michael Merrifield : “Observations of Nearby Galaxies: not just beautiful but also a key to their formation”

michael merrifield

Talk to be via Zoom - Invites will be emailed close to the date of talk

Professor of Astronomy at University of Nottingham, Michael Merrifield is an observational astronomer, who uses spectroscopy to study the dynamic of nearby galaxies.  With these data, he seeks to understand both the dark matter halos that dictate the orbits within the galaxy, and the detailed orbital arrangements of stars and gas within these systems, in order to understand how they formed. 

He also has a long-standing interest in a wide range of outreach activities, appearing regularly on the very successful Sixty Symbols YouTube channel, which he helped establish.

Current Research:

"I study the structure of nearby galaxies, to try and reconstruct how they formed. This archaeological approach complements the research of other astronomers here in Nottingham who look at very distant galaxies, whose light has taken so long to reach us that we see them as they were in the distant past. The archaeological approach has two main benefits: first, we know what the "final product" galaxy looks like, and second the closeness of these systems means that we can obtain very high quality data to search for subtle clues to their formation. One particularly useful clue comes from looking at the dynamics of these systems, since the motions of their stars provide literally a whole extra dimension of information. In pursuit of this information, I have been closely involved in the development of the unique Planetary Nebula Spectrograph, which allows us to study the motions of stars in the outermost parts of galaxies, tracing both the dynamics in regions where the history of the galaxy is likely to be imprinted and probing the dark matter halo, whose mass dictates the orbits that stars follow."


Date 6th January 2022 : Melanie Davies : Comets: Visitors from afar 

Note: Due to increase in covid virus infections, we have had to change our speaker(s) for this month as we are making it a Zoom only meeting

Steve Cunnington

This will be an online ZOOM meeting - Invites will be emailed close to the date of talk


Comets are some of the oldest objects in the Solar System and have fascinated mankind forever. They have been studied using terrestrial telescopes, plus various space missions including Rosetta which studied the now-famous Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The talk opens with some basic facts: the definition of a comet, where they come from and when they formed. It goes on to discuss historical connections and a handful of well known comets in detail. It rounds off with science and discoveries from the few comets to have been visited by spacecraft including Temple-1, Siding Spring and 67P.

Melanie studied Geoscience and Physics at the Open University and went on to study Astronomy at the University of Sussex. She has worked for many years as a Space Science Communicator, many of those at the historic observatory at Herstmonceux. Melanie was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2014 and has a boundless passion for all things space; her enthusiasm for the subject is palpable. With her background in art and design, she’s developed a trademark style, delivering her cosmic message through awesome graphics and creative techniques. 


Date 2nd December 2021 : AGM followed by William Joyce : “The Search for Life in the Outer Solar System”

This is a change in schedule brought about by the new Covid variant increased infection rate.


This will be a ZOOM meeting.

Astrobiologists are considering where extra-terrestrial life might exist within our Solar System, especially the possibilities concerning Mars, but also among the gas giant planets and some of their moons. This talk will explore the prospects for the possibility of life existing on these outer worlds, and will consider Europa (a satellite of Jupiter) and Titan (a satellite of Saturn) in some detail as both these worlds are high on the list of potential lifesupporting environments. Other potential life-bearing environments among the worlds of the outer Solar System will also be discussed. Recent advances concerning whether life might be possible in non-water environments will be included, along with descriptions of upcoming space missions currently being designed to explore the outer moons more thoroughly.

Thursday 4th November 2021 : ESAS Patron, Professor Chris Lintott : “The Surprising Universe” - TBC

Steve Cunnington

Note: Hopefully this will be a hybrid meeting at the bowls club plus online ZOOM. This is to be confirmed.

Chris was originally booked for our July 2020 meeting, but this was postponed due to the pandemic. His topic was to have been based around his book “The Crowd and the Cosmos”, but he has now chosen a different subject:-

"The Surprising Universe": Discovery isn't always a case of shouting 'Eureka!' - sometimes our path to understanding the cosmos starts with finding the curious, odd or unusual. In this talk, Chris Lintott (BBC Sky at Night, University of Oxford) will review some of the surprises of the past, from pulsars to planets, consider how we might be surprised by aliens, and in a world where ever-larger surveys of the night sky are coming on stream, consider how to make sure the astronomers of the future continue to be surprised by things that go bang in the night.

Chris Lintott FRAS is a British astrophysicist, author and broadcaster and Patron of ESAS! He is a Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford. Lintott is involved in a number of popular science projects aimed at bringing astronomy to a wider audience.


Thursday 7th October 2021 : Professor Lucie Green : Talk subject "Solar Orbiter: Europe's mission to the Sun"

Steve Cunnington

live meeting at the bowls club

Lucie Green’s talk has been postponed from October 2020 to this date, by which time we should be able to offer a ‘live’ meeting at the Bowls Club.

Lucinda "Lucie" May Green is a British science communicator and solar researcher. She is a Professor of Physics and a Royal Society University Research Fellow at Mullard Space Science Laboratory of the University College London.

Synopsis of Talk:

110 times wider than Earth; 15 million degrees at its core; an atmosphere so huge that Earth is actually within it: come and meet the star of our solar system, the Sun! This talk guides you through the Sun and its complex character and describes how the European Space Agency mission Solar Orbiter is helping scientists answer some outstanding questions. For example, how does the Sun create the constant and gusty outflow of plasma known as the solar wind? How do emissions from the Sun change during their journey into the Solar System? And why does the Sun produce spectacular eruptions and explosions in its atmosphere?

Lucie Green will bring some books with her for purchase & signing.


Thursday 2nd September 2021 : Ian Hargraves : Talk subject : "Eyes on the Sky" 

Steve Cunnington

This will be a  live Zoom meeting.

A look at the major developments in observing and the major players in astronomy, from Ancient Greece to 2021.


Weekend date: Saturday 14th August 2021 : BBQ and Perseid Meteor Watch

Steve Cunnington

This will be at one of our DarkSites - Details will be sent to Members

This event going ahead is weather dependent. Confirmation email will be sent on the Friday before. Important: Members please notify committee if you wish to attend.

The moon will set at 9.30 pm so, weather permitting, it has the potential of being a good event.

Please Note: This event will only be open to current ESAS members and their family or a close friend.


Thursday 1st July 2021 : Melanie Davies : "Giants in Space: Understanding Molecular Clouds" 

Steve Cunnington

Note: This will be a ZOOM meeting. Access to the meeting will be emailed to members.

Giants in Space: Understanding molecular clouds is suitable for astronomy societies, U3A groups, Explorer Scouts and Girlguiding Rangers, and anyone with a keen mind for all things Space. It explains cosmic recycling - the birth and death of stars - in jargon-free language for all to grasp. It also explores the origin of astrobiology and the cosmic dust cycle.

Beautiful examples of interstellar clouds, including Giant Molecular Clouds and Bok Globules, are presented throughout. Many of these incredible objects are familiar to us through astro photography, which has become accessible to so many of us. This talk explains the science behind these images, and presents research into their shape and structure.

In 2015, while studying part-time for a Masters Degree in Astronomy, Melanie followed her dream and set up Creative Space.


Thursday 3rd June 2021 : James Fradgley : “Orbital Oddities - Strange goings-on with 3 or more bodies”

Steve Cunnington

Note: This will be a ZOOM meeting. Access to the meeting will be emailed to members.

LaGrange points, resonances, Roche limits, lots of odds and ends (with simulations).

James Fradgley is the chairman of SAGAS.


Thursday 6th May 2021 : Professor David Rees : “Artemis - Positive signs for Europe as ESA goes forward to the Moon”

Steve Cunnington

Note: This will probably be a ZOOM meeting. Access to the meeting will be emailed to members.

During the next several years, a number of key elements in our “future in space” will become daily news items: Artemis, Orion, the Space Launch System and the Lunar Gateway are each key elements of the Artemis programme.

Artemis is an ambitious series of missions to get us back to the Moon; to enable permanent inhabitation of a Lunar Base; and to provide the essential stepping stones for getting us to Mars. NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther from Earth than we’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry a 4-person crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel and provide safe re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere from deep space.

Orion will be launched on NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. The Space
Launch System will be the most powerful rocket system yet designed and built. The Lunar Gateway will be a modest space station in a highly-elliptical orbit about the moon. Artemis and the Lunar Gateway will be developed, serviced, and utilized with an international collaboration led by NASA with Europe, Japan and Canada and commercial partners. Core Gateway components will be launched into lunar orbit on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket as early as May 2024.

The first components launched for the moon will cover habitation and power with others following in 2026. Astronauts will then travel to the moon in the Orion spaceship to dock with the Gateway. Two Astronauts will transfer from the space station to the lunar surface in a SpaceX Starship and remain there for up to a week. It will serve as the staging point for both robotic and crewed exploration of the lunar South Pole. The Gateway is the proposed staging point for NASA's Deep Space Transport concept for onward travel to Mars. The Artemis I Mission, anticipated to be November 2021, will send an unmanned Orion Spacecraft beyond the Moon and return to evaluate all of the many complex systems not yet tested in space, but which are essential for our future in Space.

David’s talk will describe and explain each of these key features and the essential steps to our
return to the Moon and our further travel onward to Mars.


ESA Director General and NASA Administrator have signed a joint agreement to take Europe to the Moon. David will detail the aims of this exciting project and how it will be carried out.


Thursday 1st April 2021 : Dr. Paul Daniels F.R.A.S. : “The Megaconstellation Threat”

As visual and imaging astronomers we’re all experiencing the side-effects of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation launches and once the satellites reach operational orbit. Paul has conducted a very thorough and interesting investigation into these ‘megaconstellations’, the threat they pose to both professional and amateur astronomers and to astronomers in both the optical and radio disciplines, and the hopes for mitigating the negative effects they will have.

Steve Cunnington

Note: This is an online ZOOM meeting. Access to the meeting will be emailed to members.

Paul is the President, Federation of Astronomical Societies and Vice President (Astronomy), Royal Astronomical Society. Paul says: "I’m keen to spread the word on that issue as we’ll all have to think of ways to avoid having our observing and, in particular, our imaging spoiled."

Special interests: Solar system, orbital dynamics, asteroids and the orbits, structure & evolution of comets. Science education and public outreach.

"I have a formal education in astronomy & astrophysics and continue to be engaged with the intellectual challenges of the science but, for over 30 years, my livelihood has been in IT. I am passionate about teaching astronomy to young people as an exciting and engaging introduction to the STEM subjects".

Paul says: “I’m keen to spread the word on that issue as we’ll all have to think of ways to avoid
having our observing and, in particular, our imaging spoiled.”

Abstract from his article on this subject in the FAS newsletter June 2020:
The plummeting cost of launching small satellites has led to several companies having ambitions
to place tens of thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit with, potentially, as many as 100,000 in
orbit over the next couple of decades. This article discusses three serious threats posed by the
projected growth in these satellites:
(i) The Optical and Radio pollution of the sky with the potential to end almost all professional
ground-based astronomy over the next two decades, seriously hamper amateur astronomers’
contributions to astronomy and their enjoyment of the night sky and contamination of the pristine
natural sky that is the birth right of all the people of the world and which has inspired young and
old for generations.
(ii) The vastly increased number of objects in Earth orbit will lead to a rapid growth in space debris
that could endanger the lives of astronauts, damage existing satellites and, in worst case,
potentially deny humanity access to space for any purpose for decades.
(iii) The lower cost of getting to space makes it, the Moon and asteroids prime targets for the next
era of commercial exploitation and the rush to occupy large volumes of near-Earth space by
powerful companies, backed by powerful military nations, will raise international tensions.



Thursday 4th March 2021 : Mary McIntyre F.R.A.S. : “History of Women in Astronomy”

Steve Cunnington

Note: This is an online ZOOM meeting. Access to the meeting will be emailed to members.

Historically, astronomy has been very male-dominated. This talk is a celebration of the great women who worked in astronomy during different periods of history, some of the challenges they have faced and their invaluable contributions to this and other sciences. It’s a subject that was far too often played-down or even ignored in the past.

Steve Cunnington

Mary McIntyre, an Oxfordshire based amateur astronomer and astrophotographer who has had a life-long interest in Astronomy.

"I am passionate about astronomy outreach and I’ve been giving talks on Astronomy and Astrophotography since 2015 to a mixture of camera clubs, astronomy societies, local schools and Scouts groups, as well as running astronomy sketching workshops. I love sharing my knowledge and experience."


Thursday 4th February 2021 : William Joyce : "A Selection of Deep Sky Objects"

Steve Cunnington

Note: This is an online ZOOM meeting. Access to the meeting will be emailed to members.

Finding deep sky objects visually or for imaging is a popular target for astronomers. So what kinds of DSO's are there out there? What is known about them?

As well as providing spectacular image subjects, DSO's offer fascinating insights into astrophysical processes occurring out in space. This talk will select a variety of DSO's and discuss a little about them in an easily accessible way.



Thursday 7th January 2021 : Andrew Hindmarch : “The Saturn V Programme” 

Steve Cunnington

Andrew Hindmarch is a keen amateur astronomer who is passionate about sharing his knowledge at outreach projects.  He is a committee member of the Edenbridge & District Astronomers, a small but enthusiastic bunch of people.  

We hear much about the astronauts who went to the moon and what they found when they arrived, but we don’t hear that much about the vehicle that got them there.
Following the announcement by President John F Kennedy in 1961 to land a man on the moon within a decade, the Saturn V rocket became the means to fulfill that challenge. Using his highly detailed model, Andrew will explain more about the rocket, how it was designed and operated, plus some of the problems the rocket encountered during its lifetime. The use of ZOOM software for this talk will allow Andrew to show you details of the rocket via the camera on the laptop.
Sleek, slender and astonishingly powerful, the Saturn V was visually arresting. Yet this creation of the US space effort severely taxed the NASA engineers who envisaged it, and the five contractors who built its major components.
The design and engineering of the Saturn V required the generation of enormous forces along with the application of exquisite finesse to control them. At launch it weighed as much as a naval destroyer and the five engines of the first stage generated combined power as great as the UK’s peak electricity consumption. Each pump ran at 5,500rpm generating 53,000 bhp, pumping 2.5 tonnes of fuel per second.
The second and third stage burned liquid hydrogen which was so cold that it was also the only liquid that could lubricate the engines.
Not only was the combined power of the eleven engines fitted to the three stages enough to accelerate the Apollo spacecraft – a payload as heavy as an articulated truck – towards the moon at 11km per second, it also had to carry all the technology to actually navigate the rocket and the three astronauts safely to their destination.
Much of the technology developed during the Apollo missions still forms the basis of rocket launches to this day.

* An online meeting


Thursday 3rd December 2020 : Stephen Wilkins : “Update on James Webb and Associated Science”

Steve Cunnington

Stephen is currently a Reader in Astronomy in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS). He is an STFC Public Engagement Fellow and currently serves as a Director of Outreach and Public Engagement for MPS. His research focusses on the formation and evolution of the first galaxies in the Universe.
* An online meeting


Thursday 5th November 2020 : AGM followed by Members' Talks

Steve CunningtonThe AGM is expected to be quite short as a lot of it will need to be conducted beforehand by email but there will be some online voting (this has been already tested to work).

AGM start time 7.45pm sharp - ESAS members only

Talks start at 8.15pm - Open to ESAS members & invited guests


Lester Selmes : “How to make a constellation” A light hearted talk with no more information so that it gets people guessing!


Peter Bolwell : "Querying Dark Matter”


Mark Jarvis : “Lockdown Astrophotography” Showing and talking about some of his favorite images taken during this difficult summer.

* An online meeting


Thursday 1st October 2020 : Pete Williamson FRAS : “Whirlpools in Space”

Steve Cunnington

"Whirlpools in Space"

The talk looks at the work of the Parsons Family situated at Birr in Ireland, looking at the development of the world’s largest telescope of its time and the breakthrough in telescope engineering and optics. 

We also take time to look at the breakthroughs in astronomy made by William Parsons, the Third Earl of Ross; the ground-breaking work carried out at the eyepiece of this telescope known as The Leviathan.

After leaving Ireland we look at other large telescopes of their day and how observations made with these telescopes compare with the drawings made by William Parsons.

To finish we look at a project that I undertook in Birr Ireland alongside the Leviathan Telescope and what else Birr has to offer.”
* An online meeting



Wednesday 2nd September 2020: Danny Thomas: “Modelling the Constellations in 3D”

Steve Cunnington

"Modelling the Constellations in 3D” covers a challenge that I set myself to model constellations so that they could be displayed from the sides without changing the scale.

A few years ago I did a programming course related to computer generated art. To test my knowledge I wrote some code to model the constellations using galactic coordinates from publicly available data. Unlike a planetarium program, that in essence projects the stars onto a screen, I wanted to be able to move the viewpoint so I could understand the relative position of the stars in the direction stretching away from our solar system.

Once the code was working, I looked at various constellations and started to learn more about their history, future, mythology and some interesting facts that I would not have come across otherwise. Telling this side of the story gives the talk a broad appeal to an audience of mixed knowledge and interests.

The talk is in two parts, a brief presentation about the way the program works to orient the audience and then a live demonstration of the program. I will use about a dozen different examples of well know constellations where I found an interesting story to tell.

* An online meeting



Find us

Egerton Park Indoor Bowls Club,
Egerton Road,
Bexhill, East Sussex,
TN39 3HL


May Meeting:
Venue to be announced


Meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month from 8pm to 10pm

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