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Many of us look forward to the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures on TV, and some of us may even have attended them when we were at school. Astronomy author Colin Stuart has been fascinated by these lectures and has recently written a book with the Royal Institution called 13 Journeys Through Space and Time, specifically about those lectures that deal with space.
It charts our changing understanding of the cosmos from the first lecture featured (1881) to Kevin Fong’s 2015 lectures when he linked up with Tim Peake aboard the ISS. The lectures show how our ideas about everything from sunspots to dark matter have evolved over more than a century. While researching the book, Colin uncovered some interesting and unusual artefacts in the RI archives including Carl Sagan’s immigration form, a towel sent into space and Dewar’s radioactive notebooks.
The meeting is on Monday, 10 April at Christ Church, Redford Way, Uxbridge and starts as usual at 8 pm.
10 April Colin Stuart: 13 Journeys Through Space and Time
8 May David Fishwick: Seven Stars
12 June: Annual General Meeting plus Jack Martin, Practical Stellar Spectroscopy
10 July TBA
Meetings are held every month (except August) alternating between Christ Church, Redford Way, Uxbridge and St John Ambulance Hall, North Harrow. Admission to meetings is free to members, and non-members are welcome to attend one or two meetings before deciding if membership is for them. Meetings begin at 8 pm sharp and finish at 10 pm.
Each meeting begins with the talk by the main speaker, which usually lasts 60-75mins. This is followed by a slot where we show astronomical observations made by members. The meetings close with society notices and we often have time for refreshments afterwards. Here you can socialise with other members, speak to WOLAS committee members, or even talk directly with the main speaker.
As an incentive for members to contribute their observations to the monthly observing slot, a small prize is awarded by a process of a lucky dip. We also run an observing competition over the year and whether you win the lucky dip or not, each month's entry also adds a point to a member's points tally. Attendance at a Piggotts observing night also adds a point. In September of each year, a trophy is given to the member with the most points. This is the Geoff Smith Award which commemorates a former secretary of WOLAS who was a very keen observer of the night sky. As a member you can read more about the trophy by logging in and clicking here.