Upcoming Events

Public Lectures

Patrick Moore Lecture Series (STFC)

The School of Physics and Astronomy together with the University of Birmingham Astronomical Society (previously funded through an STFC grant) run termly evening lectures that are aimed at members of the general public. These lectures are free to all. Future event details will be posted here accordingly. Drop us a mail if you would like to be added to the mailing list for these events.

We also run a seperate website for these talks see for a whole heap of info on these events.

Future Events:

Past Talks and Events:

In the past we have had talks by: Lucy Hawking, Dr David Malin (AAO), Dr Fred Watson (AAO), Dr David Whitehouse (BBC Science Correspondent), Mr Mario di Maggio (ThinkTank Planetarium Director), Dr David Gregory (BBC West Midlands), Prof. John Brown (Royal Astronomer for Scotland and Glasgow University), Prof Ian Morison (Jodrell Bank and Gresham College), Dr Brian Cox (Manchester University, CERN), Dr Paul Roche (Cardiff University, FT), Dr Martin Hendry (University of Glasgow) and Dr Mike Hapgood (RAL).

14th March 2009: Birmingham Pi Day

"Space, the Final Frontier as many would say, is a spectacular place. The Universe is teeming with objects so awe inspiring in nature that perhaps one can not help but feel a little dwarfed by them. Yet this does not daunt many of those who study the Universe, trying to understand its many facets: from where it came from, to how it will die and everything in between. One of the most eminent figures from the twentieth century in this quest was Albert Einstein, whos work on gravity laid the foundations for much of what would follow in the following decades and beyond."

Pi Day ran from 10:00 am to 5:15 pm on Saturday 14th of March 2009.

More information on the schedule and location is available from the [Pi Day website]

9th March 2009: "Poetry of the Night: A marvellous union between science and literature" by David H. Levy

On October 2, 1605, Londoners were treated to an almost total eclipse of the Sun at around the same time that Shakespeare's King Lear was exploring humanity's relation to the cosmos. "These Late Eclipses in the Sun and Moon" (a passage from the play) begins a sophisticated discussion of that relation, based on real events in the night sky. This is just one example of the richness of astronomical allusions in English Literature that will be explored in this presentation.

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? For more information check out our [spaceday minisite].

Sean dropping a Mars Lander

4th Dec 2008: Prof Peter Kalmus OBE (QMUL) - "Mirror images, antimatter and time reversal"

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" by Dr Lucie Green (MSSL)

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.

Dr Lucie Green with Steve (l) and Sam (r)

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 [].


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

Dr Paul Roche- "The Faulkes Telescope"

On Thursday the 6th December Dr Paul Roche (Director of the Faulkes Telescope Project) gave us a talk all about the wonders of the FT. - more at [].

Paul Roche

Dr Brian Cox - "The Big Bang Machine"

On Thursday the 4th October (the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the space age) we had the pleasure of having along Dr Brian Cox from the University of Manchester to give us a talk titled "The Big Bang Machine". This talk was part of our STFC funding public series of talks titled "Talk, Tea and Telescope" - more at [].

Brian Cox

There were about 200 people along to hear Dr Cox give a great description of how particle physics works and how the Large Hadron Collider at CERN can reproduce the early Universe. The talk was followed by public observing with Astrosoc's telescopes:


Talks Location

Unless otherwise stated the talks take place in the Large Lecture Theatre of the Poynting Physics Building (34b on University Map) at the University of Birmingham.