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Atoms, Photons and the Nebulium Affair

Thu, 25 May


Mycenae House

Atoms, Photons and the Nebulium Affair

by Tony Sizer In 1864, using a novel physical technique, an unknown element was discovered in a gaseous nebula. In 1868, a second new element was found in the Sun using the same method.

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Time & Location

25 May, 19:00 – 21:00

Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Rd, London SE3 7SE, UK

About the Event

In 1869, evidence of a third was glimpsed in the corona of the Sun.

Yet only one of these was ever found on Earth and is well known to balloonists and people who like squeaky voices.

Why is this? All three elements were discovered by reputable astronomers using spectroscopy, which has become an essential tool in modern astronomical research. Yet, while Helium is well known today, Nebulium and Coronium have disappeared into obscurity.

Was it all down to Chance?

Tony's Bio:

After obtaining an MA in Natural Science and Cert. Ed. at Pembroke College, Cambridge. I became a chemistry teacher. Bangs, flashes and smells were included at every opportunity. However, after 30 years, b’s, f’s and s’s were frowned upon and replaced by Risk Assessments, which were much less fun, so I took early retirement.

I was already doing a few shows on the Caird Planetarium in what is now the South Building at the ROG (mostly without B*s F’s and S’s) and I was permitted to join the team working with the Peter Harrison Planetarium (definitely no B’s, F’s and S’s). I also worked on Great Equatorial sessions and helped to inaugurate GCSE astronomy classes for students from local schools on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Eventually, I (and other part-timers) became too expensive, so I retired for a second time.

The Art Building at the school where I taught fell down and I built two run off roof observatories from the remains. These housed two Newtonian telescopes with which I observed and attempted to photograph the Moon and planets using real chemical photography. In 1969, I obtained one of the first photographs of the lunar crater Einstein, using the Northumberland refractor at the Cambridge Observatory.

I gave my first astronomy lecture aged 12 during an English lesson at school and have been talking about astronomy to various audiences ever since.

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