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Popular Astronomy

Popular Astronomy Magazine - January-February 2017
See what's in the January-February 2017 edition of 'Popular Astronomy' magazine. Click the cover to find out.

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Forthcoming meetings

Our regular quarterly meetings are held in London, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) which is part of the University of London. Admission is free. Details of how to get there, with maps, are given below. Other events are occasionally held around the country, in which case details of their location will be given. All talks are presented at a popular level and should be understandable by anyone with an interest in astronomy.

Saturday 28 January 2017, 2 pm. Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, London (details below).

Dr Jonathan Pritchard from Imperial College London speaks on The Cosmic Dawn and the First Galaxies.

Observations of the cosmic microwave background and the distribution of galaxies reveal a universe that develops from early simplicity to eventually form galaxies like our Milky Way. Somewhere in this cosmic history, the very first galaxies form, ushering in a cosmic dawn as starlight illuminates the universe for the first time. This period of cosmic dawn has yet to be observed directly, since these galaxies are too faint to see with even the Hubble Space Telescope, and so represents one of the “here be dragons” in our picture of the cosmos.

In this talk, Jonathan will discuss something of the life and death of the first stars and galaxies and describe current efforts to learn about the cosmic dawn with a new generation of radio telescopes, such as LOFAR and the SKA.

Following the break, Tony Sizer intrigues us with a talk entitled The Stars, Like Dust. Isaac Asimov's 1950s SF classic? Come along and find out!

London meetings will also be held on Saturdays  29 April 2017, 29 July 2017 and 28 October 2017. Details to come.

SPA Convention, Saturday 1 April 2017, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Click here for full details

 Other national events

An updated list of major star parties and conventions is maintained on our Forum.

Meeting videos

You can view videos of the main talks at meetings on your computer. Just click on the image at right to see what's currently available. There are videos of talks about all aspects of astronomy there – they'll keep you entertained for hours!

Society Meetings – Regular Venue


SPA meetings are held on the last Saturday of January, April, July and October in the Khalili Lecture Theatre of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG. When you leave Russell Square station, turn left and cross the road straight away. SOAS is on the far corner of Russell Square. Use the entrance marked, which is opposite the Brunei Gallery.Members and their friends are welcome, and entry is free of charge. Members should please remember to bring their membership cards or a copy of Popular Astronomy.

When you enter the SOAS building, please sign in as a visitor to the university at the reception desk, where you will be given a visitor sticker which you should keep visible, and go through the entry gate. The lecture theatre is downstairs – look for the SPA signs. We also have our own signing-in book before you enter the lecture theatre. Meetings start at 2.00pm and last until 5.00pm, including a break for refreshments.

The first section of each meeting is generally taken up by a talk from a guest speaker, while the second has shorter items on current astronomical events, and possibly reports from sections. Prior to the meeting, and during the break, refreshments including tea, coffee, soft drinks and sandwiches are usually available from the Student Union cafeteria though this is subject to closure outside University terms.

Here is a Google map of the venue to help you with directions:



Mon, 16 Jan 2017   - Vesta at its brightest

Tue, 10 Jan 2017   - Venus and Mars draw closer

Tue, 03 Jan 2017   - New Year Shooting Stars