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  • Writer's pictureFlamsteed Astronomy Society

Flamsteed Annual General Meeting 2012

Mike and Malcolm present the Strategy

81 members of the Flamsteed Astronomy Society gathered in the lecture theatre of the National Maritime Museum for our 13th Annual General Meeting, to be followed by a lecture from Dr Radmila Topalovic of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Lin Potter, in her last address as chair of the society after 9 years at the helm, started with a review of last season.

Lecture Programme

Our first meeting of the 2011/12 season saw our old friend Professor Allan Willis talk about ‘Massive stars and super star clusters‘. This was the first John Griffiths Memorial Lecture, presented in honour of Dr John Griffiths who sadly passed away in 2010 and Allan projected some slides of their student life together in the early 1970’s.

At our Annual General Meeting in October 2011, Greg Smye-Rumsby presented a fascinating lecture on ‘Timings‘. November’s lecture on ‘The Cassini Probe and Saturn’s Rings‘ was presented by another old friend of the society, Dr Carl Murray of Queen Mary, University of London. We were treated to some fabulous images of Saturn and its moons. At our Christmas party, Dr Darren Baskill gave us a planetarium show on ‘X-Treme Astronomy!‘. His claim to be only 19 years old was met with astonishment within the Flamsteed audience, until he explained that he was talking in Martian years!

The new year saw the return of Dr Robert Massey to the Flamsteed, who was instrumental in helping to found the Flamsteed Society in 1999. Robert spoke to us about ‘The Transits of Venus‘, in preparation for the transit event on 6 June, 2012. In February, we were treated to a superb lecture on cosmology by Dr Mark Sullivan of Oxford University, entitled ‘Cosmic Explosions, Dark Matter and the Fate of the Universe‘. In March, we welcomed back Professor Nick Kanas who was en-route from Paris back home to San Francisco. Nick’s work with NASA researching the effects of space travel on astronauts made him perfectly qualified to talk about ‘The Psychology and Physiology of Space Travel in Humans‘.

In April, Marek Kukula of the ROG gave us a very entertaining lecture entitled ‘From Egypt to Mars‘ focussing on the history of astronomy from ancient Egypt to today. May saw what many believed was the highlight of the season, with Dr Stuart Clark and Dr Chris Lintott engaged in a debate on ‘Dark Matter – A Two-Handed Discussion‘. The debate even got some coverage in the New Statesman, particularly because the Flamsteed audience had voted to reject the concept of dark matter!

Our final lecture of the season in June saw 3 Flamsteed members, Mike Dryland, Dave Redfern and Ian McDowell, present topics ranging from the Great Melbourne Telescope, Science and Belief and the Mars Science Laboratory in our ‘Jubilee Party: Members’ Talks‘. A perfect end to the lecture season.

Observing Events

Successful stargazing events were held on Blackheath during the season, which were very well attended by Flamsteed members and members of the public. Cudham was somewhat less successful, with most of our ‘meteor-watch’ sessions called off due to bad weather. However, we were able to run a successful ‘Perseids meteor-watch‘ in August, when the clouds parted just after midnight and we were able to spot several very bright meteors.

Romney observing nights are always a delight and we are hugely indebted to Martin and Jane for allowing us access to their wonderful observatory. Several successful sessions were run this year, including an evening dedicated entirely to astrophotography, which