Upcoming Events

Welcome to the University of Birmingham Astronomical Society's website

If you are a member of the University and you are interested in astronomy or any aspect of space then please feel free to come along to our meetings. We meet weekly during the academic term-time in G13 of Nuffield, every Thursday at 7:30pm, and organise other events throughout the year. Membership is open to all students of the University (not just physics students!), and we also welcome members of the general public along to our public talks. We also have a [facebook page] so feel free to join. You can also follow us on Twitter @UoBAstroSoc

AstroSoc Annual Dinner

On the 12th June 2012 the annual dinner was held in the Michael Tippett room of the Staff House, the dinner was delicious and the after dinner speaker was Dr. Andreas Freise of the gravitational waves research group. The society also presented a compass to Barry for a retirement gift. Everyone had a wonderful evening and AstroSoc would like to wish everyone results success and a good summer vacation.

Venus Transit

On the morning of the 6th June 2012 members of AstroSoc met up on the roof at 4am in order to observe the Venus transit for the last time until 2117. Although the sky had bad visibility on the horizon the sun did eventually appear with minutes to spare. Aside from the bad visibilty everyone enjoyed themselves if not a tad tired.

Tea, Talk and Telescope

This week (22/03/2012) at Astrosoc, is the planned Tea Talk and Telescope from Prof. Mike Cruise entitled, "Small Problems with the Universe- is Physics letting us down?". The Universe is being explored with increasingly sophisticated instruments and techniques and yet there still remains fundamental questions about the laws of Physics that govern its existence and evolution. This talk will discuss our present view of the Universe and the areas of Physics that are causing uncertainty and how these may be investigated. The event will begin in the Physics Coffee Lounge at 7:00pm for drink and biscuits, followed by the Talk. This meeting is open to all, so please come along for an enlightening evening learning about the mysteries of our universe. Hope to see you all there.

This week at Astrosoc

This week (15/03/2012) at Astrosoc, the end of term quiz! Come along and test your knowledge we look forward to seeing you all there and let the best astronomer win! In G13 of the Nuffield building followed as usual by a casual trip to Joe's.

This week at Astrosoc

This week (08/03/2012) at Astrosoc, we have a undergraduate talk by our webmaster and publicity officer Paul Carter on the topic of "Where is the matter?: Dark Matter and Dark Energy", this will be followed by an observing night weather permitting. The meeting will be at 7:30pm in G13 of the Nuffield Building. Rememeber to wrap up warm in case we go on the roof. We look forward to seeing you there.

This week at Astrosoc

This week (01/03/2012) at Astrosoc, a planned film night all meeting in G13 of the Nuffield building at 7:30pm in order to watch "The Race to Space". We hope to see you there.

This week at Astrosoc

This week (23/02/2012) at Astrosoc, we have the social to the Glee Club in Birmingham, featuring stand up from Simon Clayton, Michael Fabbri, Charlie Baker and Kockov. Everyone will be meeting at Physics West at 6:45pm and getting the train to New Street then walking to the venue. For those who have not got tickets but would still like to attend the event, tickets can be bought online or on the door (not guaranteed still in stock) information can be found at: [Glee Club Site] . The price is £11 standard entry and £6 NUS, the social promises to be a funny night for sure, so hopefully see you there.

Upcoming Outreach Day

On Saturday 10th March 2012, the University of Birmingham Astronomical Society invites you to the annual outreach day for National Science and Engineering Week. This year the theme of the outreach day is 'Other Worlds' due the recent discovery of many exoplanets in the milkyway. The event will be from 10am-4pm and is open to all ages of the public, at no entance cost. On the day many activities will be avaliable to take part in including making air rockets, solar astronomy (weather permitting) and also talks from Dr. Ian Stevens and Dr. Samuel George. The outreach day promises to be a fun day so we hope to see you all there.

This week at Astrosoc

This week (16/02/2012) at Astrosoc, our second planning week for the high altitude balloon project, another chance to get involved with the societies plans to send a payload to a altitude of about 30,000m in order to take pictures and a variety of other functions. If clear skies then observing will follow the metting. Which will take place at 7:30pm in G13 of the Nuffield building. We look forward to seeing you.

This week at Astrosoc

This week (09/02/2012) at Astrosoc, we have a Postgraduate Talk from our newest winner of honorary life membership and 4 year committee member Sean Elvidge on "Space weather and it's affect in the near Earth enivorment". The meeting will be at 7:30pm in G13 of the Nuffield Building, followed by a drink at Joe's. We look forward to seeing you.

This week at AstroSoc

We at University of Birmingham AstroSoc would like to thank everyone who showed interest/became members at the get involved fair on Tuesday 31st January. As such we invite you to this week's (02/02/2012) meeting, which is scheduled for an observing night weather permitting so remember to wrap up warm. We also have a planned Undergraduate talk by Tom North on introductory Astrophotography. Meeting will be at 7:30pm in G13 of Nuffield building and also join us all at Joe's after. Hope to see you there.

This week at AstroSoc

This week (26/01/2012) at AstroSoc, the whole society will begin discussions about the proposed high altitude balloon project. As always if clear skies the meeting will be followed by observing and a trip to Joe's bar. Meeting will be at 7:30pm in G13 in the Nuffield building. All students welcome.

This week at AstroSoc

This week (19/01/2012) at AstroSoc is scheduled for a observing night weather permitted! However, if the clouds come we will be hearing a talk from the Equipment and Observations Officer Callum Bellhouse on Galaxies. Meeting will be at 7:30pm in G13 of the Nuffield building. Bring warm clothes in case we can observe.

Stargazing Live

On Saturday 14th January, AstroSoc along with other societies from the area attended Stargazing Live 2012 in Victoria Square, Birmingham and launched over 100 rockets throughout the day! We would like to thank all who attended and we hope you had as much fun as we did!

A new term, a new committee

Welcome back to AstroSoc for the first semester with our newly elected committee. This introductory session will be a presentation from the new chair with an introduction to our new balloon project and a message about an exiting event involving the BBC and us happening this weekend.

A message from the Chair: "Hello all and welcome back. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year. I would like to congratulate Richard Pearson and the 2011 committee for the fantastic job they did last year with the society and I hope that myself and the new committee continue the wide range of events for both the members and the public. I am very excited about the high altitude balloon project we plan to launch this term, along with the outreach day during Science and Engineering Week and our continuing work to complete our own Messier Catalogue. So whatever experience you have, from complete beginner to Sir Patrick Moore, I hope to see you all at our regular meetings for undergraduate talks, discussions, observing sessions and lots of banter. Happy stargazing."

Tea, Talk and Telescope with Alastair Reynolds. From Barsoom to Pandora: Science Fiction and Astronomy in dialogue

In late November AstroSoc will be holding the next event in our [Tea, Talk and Telescope] series of talks series of talks, this time by the Sci-Fi writer Alastair Reynolds. This talk will be on Thursday 24th November 2011. Coffee and tea will be available from 7:00pm with the talk to start at 7:30pm.

As a former scientist, and now full-time science fiction writer, I'm fascinated by the way science and science fiction have been in dialogue with each other. Although it's mostly the case of science influencing science fiction, the traffic hasn't been entirely one-way. I will discuss some of the changes in science fiction over the last century or so, with a particular emphasis on space-based fiction, and the impact of astronomical ideas (such as our understanding of the solar system, and our wider place in the universe) on those books and stories.


Google+ has just allowed groups to create their own pages, and AstroSoc is one of the first. Find us here [here]


We are now on facebook [here]. Like our page for more frequent updates on the society.


If you are new to the uni this year, or just want to try a another society, we will be holding a special welcome meeting to introduce you to Astrosoc on Thursday the 29th of September. Everyone is welcome to come and join us with activities, games and eating of Pizza. We meet at 7:45pm in G13 of the Nuffield building, and will continue on for drinks and talk at Joe's once the meeting is over.

Welcome to the New University Year at Astrosoc

Another new semester brings more fun and interesting events at Astrosoc. Currently the first semester calender looks like this: Thurs 29th Sep Welcome Meeting, with Pizza!
Thurs 6th Oct Talk by Dr Somak Raychaudhury: Why we need to go to Space to Observe the Sky
Thurs 13th Oct Themed Observing: Constellations
Thurs 20th Oct Film Night
Thurs 27th Oct Themed Observing: Jupiter
Thurs 3rd Nov Vale Fireworks (no observing)
Thurs 10th Nov The Space Race Pub Crawl
Thurs 17th Nov Themed Observing: The moon
Thurs 24th Nov Tea, Talk and Telescope with the sci-fi writer Alastair Reynolds
Thurs 1st Dec Talk by Dr Mike Simms: To Here From Eternity: The extraordinary story of some ‘ordinary’ meteorites
Wed 7th Dec Annual General Meeting followed by Curry
Thurs 8th Dec The Chair's Quiz

All followed by observing if it is clear, and finishing in Joes.

The Annual Astrosoc Dinner 21st June 2011

On the 21st of June Astrosoc presents it's Annual Dinner, which will be held this year at Edgebaston Golf Club. The ticket price includes a full three course dinner (with vegetarian option) and wine. Special Guest speaker: Dr David Evans.

From 19:00 to 00:00. The Dress code is black tie.

Members: £25

Non-members: £28

For tickets please email, see our facebook page or just contact a member of the committee.

'Flight of the space Shuttles' 19th March 2011

Astrosoc would like to give a big thank you to all those who attended our outreach day in March, with special thanks to everyone involved with making the day a big success.


'Flight of the space Shuttles' 19th March 2011

The Astronomical society (AstroSoc), along with the School of Physics and Astronomy, are organising an all-day event in and around the Physics Poynting building on Saturday 19th March, 10 am to 4 pm. This event is aimed at all ages of the general public, and in particular is approporiate for school and University students such as yourselves.

Themed around the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle fleet and about space flight in general, the day will have various events suitable for people of all ages. Many of these will be hands-on activities, and it will be possible for interested people to spend several hours at the venue taking part in a variety of events.

There will be talks for the general public, given by individuals who have pioneered space research and education. There will also be interactive workshops to build and launch home-made rockets, and to design ways of returning cargo to the ground safely with nothing more than cardboard and sellotape! Other activities will include a quiz testing your knowledge of our short hops into space and a look at just how big the solar system we are exploring is!

***Among the highlights of this event will be a talk by Professor Peter Willmore, who will speak about his role in the Spacelab 2 programme here at the University of Birmingham, among other things. This talk is at at 10 am! Check out the website link given below! *******

The Flight of the Space Shuttles is planned to run from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday 19th of March 2011. Entrance and all activities are free, but due to limits on numbers, certain workshops will be on a first-come-first served basis. More details [here].

Lucy Hawking Talk

The next event in the Tea, Talk and Telescope series is "Travel through space with Lucy Hawking". From the talk and telescope [website]:

"Explore the wonders of the Universe with author Lucy Hawking as she presents a young person's guide through the galaxy! Lucy will be talking about her latest book, `George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt,' the follow-up to the brilliant 'George's secret key to the universe'. Discover the mysteries of physics, science and the universe with George, his new friends next door - the scientist Eric and his daughter, Annie - and a super-intelligent computer known as Cosmos, which can take them to the edge of a black hole and back again."

The talk will take place at 6:30 on Wednesday 7th October in the Poynting Physics Buidling (R13 on the [campus map]), with tea and biscuits from 6. Entry is free to everyone.

Sirius Issues 19 released 23/09/2009

The 19th edition of Sirius Issues, the society newsletter, is available from [here]

Best Event Award - 24/03/09

On Tuesday Astrosoc won best event at the 2009 Guild Awards for Space Day. This was excellent news, and recognises the effort that was put into making space day as much fun as possible for everyone who attended. A big thanks to everyone who came and everone who was involved in running the day last year! The full list of winners can be seen [here]

Astrosoc playing with dry ice...

Last week a few members of Astrosoc got hold of a bag of dry ice and this was the result:
basic dry ice rocket lots of dry ice mess
There are more pictures and videos [here]

Lynne Long awarded life membership 23/02/09

At the AGM in December it was voted to award Lynne Long with life membership in recognition of all of the ways that she has helped Astrosoc - especially in organising events and going out of her way to allow us to organise Space Day. On Monday 23rd of March three members of the Astrosoc Committee attended the IOP lecture in Poynting physics, given by Dr David Evans on the LHC. Afterwards they presented Lynne with her certificate in front of the audience.

Sirius Issues 18 released 04/12/2008

The 18th edition of Sirius Issues, the society newsletter, is available from [here]

Mirror images, antimatter and time reversal - 04/12/2008

"Mirror images, antimatter and time reversal" by Prof Peter Kalmus - We explore, without mathematics, the three symmetries implied in the title. These are important in science, particularly in particle physics. At the microscopic level, the laws of mechanics and electromagnetism appear to be perfectly symmetrical, but the symmetry is broken by the weak interaction, the force that allows the Sun to shine. We explain how symmetry breaking could help us to avoid being annihilated by a science-fiction antimatter alien from another world. Again at the microscopic level there is a small asymmetry between the forward and backward directions of time. On larger scales however the direction of time is crucial, and time-reversed systems generally lead to absurd situations.

Living in the Sun's atmosphere 16/10/2008

Dr Lucie Green - "Living in the Sun's atmosphere" - The Sun produces huge and powerful eruptions called coronal mass ejections, which throw masses of charged particles into space with explosive force. Some of these inevitably reach the Earth, creating beautiful aurora in the polar skies, but also with the potential to wreak havoc with our telecommunications and electricity networks. You can hear a snipet of this talk [here].

Birmingham Space Day 04/10/2008

Forty two. That was the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything proposed by Deep Thought in Douglas Adams' book the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But how much of the ultimate answer does the Universe actually contribute? Whilst astronomers at the University of Birmingham are likely unable to find the answer to that question, at their upcoming event, Space Day, they hope to be able to answer many other more day-to-day questions, such as how does a telescope work? What can I look at in the sky tonight? How did NASA get their rovers on Mars safely?

This event, aimed at all ages of the general public, will feature talks by researchers from the School of Physics and Astronomy, including Dr William Chaplin on the "Music of the Sun" and Dr Somak Raychaudhury on "Einstein's Outrageous Legacy - Black Holes, Cosmic Illusions and Dark Energy", as well as interactive workshops which tackle telescope making, air rocket creation and launching, and even making Mars rovers out of little more than cardboard and sellotape! Other activities such as a tour of the night sky in a mobile planetarium, a tour of the department's astronomical and space laboratory facilities, a chance to see how many cosmic rays pass through you every second and a raffle are planned for the day.

Space Day is currently planned to run from 10:00 am to 5:15 pm on Saturday 4th of October 2008. Entrance and all activities are free, but due to limits on numbers certain workshops will be on a first-come-first served basis. We hope to see you there! For more information check out our [spaceday minisite]

Partial Solar Eclipse 01/08/2008

On August the 1st a solar eclipse was be seen around the world. We manged to see about a 20% eclipse. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth so that the Sun is wholly or partially obscured. This can only happen during a new moon, when the Sun and Moon are in conjunction as seen from the Earth. Our observations made it onto the local television (ITV Central):

(if you can't see the above goto [here] and [here].

Base of the Grubb back on the roof!

A morning of heavy lifting and the base of the Grubb telescope is ready to be put back together! The telescope will be ready to be used during the summer.

Mark,Barry and Tensai working on the roof

Annual Dinner 2008

The Astrosoc Annual Dinner is to take place on 5th June at the Astor Suite here at the University of Birmingham. We have the distinct pleasure in welcoming along Dr William Chaplin as our guest speaker. Tickets are £26 for members and £30 for non-members. All are very welcome, please drop us an email if you fancy coming along.

Dr Mike Hapgood - "Space Weather and Lunar Exploration"

"Space Weather and Lunar Exploration" - a talk about how space weather affects our lives and determines how we continue our manned exploration of space. Space is a dangerous place for humans, once we step beyond the protection of the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field. Galactic cosmic rays and bursts of charged particles from the Sun damaging to health happen with alarming frequency - the Apollo astronauts were lucky. Understanding the physics of radiation from distinct source in space will be useful to help future space voyagers plan journeys in greater safety, and produce effective shields for these unavoidable events on journeys to Mars or beyond. - more at [].


Sirius Issues 16 released

The latest Astrosoc newsletter is now available [here]

Dr Martin Hendry - "Did we really land on the Moon?"

"Did we really land on the Moon?" - a talk about the Moon landings and some of the hoax theories that have arisen. Did Neil Armstrong really walk on the Moon? Almost 40 years on from Apollo 11 a surprising number of people believe that Armstrong's famous "One small step" was an elaborate hoax, filmed in secret here on Earth. Conspiracy theorists point to a range of "evidence" to support their claim: waving flags, strange shadows, no stars in the sky, deadly solar radiation. In this talk, using real Apollo video footage and a series of simple demonstrations, we will take a closer look at the science behind "moon hoax" claims, and ask whether we really did land on the Moon. The answer to the question was given quite clearly at the start with an emphatic, "yes!". - more at [].

Martin Hendry

Sirius Issues 15 released

The latest Astrosoc newsletter is now available [here]

New Grubb Assembly

The refurbishment work on the Grubb telescope is moving swiftly and it will hopefully be completed soon but here is a nice diagram (by Steve Brookes of the Physics workshop) of how the new Grubb telescope assembly will look.


Old Site

For the time being, at least, the old astrosoc site will be still up and running, this has loads of content including pictures and interesting historical documents of the society. Most of the pages have been integrated into the new design but there is lots of content and this will take time for it all to be copied over. Access to old site

Older front page items can be found here.