Archive Programme 2020-2021

**COVID-19 Policy: Covid regulations may eventually permit some physical meeting. Use will be made of zoom software as well as physically meeting in the hall when it becomes possible. Zoom policy requires passcodes which will be issued by email before each meeting.

Programme 2020-2021

All meetings start at 7.00pm in St. Peter’s Church Hall, Earley.
The open FridayCLUB meetings are now included in this listing.

If you are a speaker who would like to talk to the society or have a recommendation for a speaker or subject please email

please note Meetings are wheelchair accessible unless mentioned otherwise

August 28th 7pm.**

Friday club virtual meeting.

Zoom talk – access details will be provided by news-list

Owen Brazell Webb Society

The Deep Sky Story.

Owen has a life long interest in the deep-sky objects of all types and is currently President of the Webb Society dedicated to encourage amateur observations of double stars and ‘deep-sky’ objects such as star-clusters and nebulae, and to provide a forum where observers can communicate and publish the results of their work.

September 19th 2020**

Society AGM

Zoom talk including the AGM agenda – access details will be provided by newslist

A delayed – but most important – AGM to decide the course of the society for the coming year, followed by….

Provisional – Ken England – Ken’s annual mustering of astronomy history around years ending in 20.
After the coffee break the usual announcements and members’ activities.

September 25th 7.30pm

Friday club virtual meeting.

Zoom talk – access details will be provided by newslist

Trevor Gainey Basingstoke and Readng AS’s

Space Junk and the Argus Project.

Ridding space of discarded material and debris is becoming a major problem occupying the space-going powers. Trevor will share his studies with us in this major talk.

October 17th 2020 7pm

Zoom talk – access details will be provided by newslist

Supermassive Black Holes: The Ultimate Galaxy Killers?

Rebecca Smethurst – Junior Research Fellow, Dpt of Physics, U of Oxford,
Research fellow at Christ Church working to try and understand how galaxies and their central supermassive black holes evolve together. In order to do this, I get the public to help out classifying galaxy shapes online with
Plus, the usual announcements and members’ activities.


From Galaxies to Life

Roger Davies – Wetton Professor of Astrophysics, Dpt of Physics, U of Oxford,
Roger’s interest is in galaxies, especially radio and elliptical galaxies, and their dynamics.
After the coffee break the usual announcements and members’ activities. Friday club held over ’til 2021

National Astronomy Week

Saturday 14 November to Sunday 22 November 2020
Mars Encounter in November will give best view of Mars until 2033
The aim of the week is to celebrate the close approach of Mars. Holding public observing sessions will be impacted by Covid regulations. Bearing in mind cleaning of equipment and maintaining darkness, observing in numbers is unlikely under current restrictions.

November 21st, 2020**

Is there life in the clouds of Venus?

Brian Skidmore – Lunar mission architect SSTL

On Sept 14th 2020 it was announced that the gas phosphine had been detected in the atmosphere of Venus, where the temperatures and pressures (though not the acidity) can be surprisingly Earth-like. Since phosphine in Earth’s atmosphere is only produced naturally by life, this caused a great deal of excitement: is the same true of Venus – are there microbes floating around in its atmosphere too?
In this talk I’ll be exploring the debate of whether there may be life in the clouds of Venus, which will include the history and characteristics of the planet, and the implications of finding an independent source of life from the Earth.

This will be a virtual talk on zoom. Friday club held over ’til 2021

December 12th, 2020**

(Nb. 2nd Saturday)

Virtual Tour of Members’ Observatories.

Several Guest Speakers – Details

With a webcam and subdued lighting, we will invade members’ garden observatories and admire anything Santa Amazon brought them this year.

This likely to be a virtual talk on zoom. Tickets will be available on Eventbrite if the hall is permitted.

Friday, January 8th

Newbury exchange meeting.

ReadingAS invited to do three short talks for the Newbury January Main Meeting.

Talks by John Talbot and Brian Skidmore were presented

This will be a virtual talk on zoom.

Sat, January 16th

Newbury Guest Meeting.

Members from NewburyAS will do three short talks

Talks by Steve Harris, George Sallit, Chris Hooker

This will be a virtual talk on zoom.

22nd Jan – Friday Club date

Sat. February 20th 7pm.

ReadingAS February Main Meeting

90-minute theatrical presentation.

Andrew Lound of Odyssey Productions will be presenting one of his celebrated costumed talks, on ZOOM of course.


The middle to late 18th century saw a rise in scientific enquiry that fuelled and was in turn aided by the industrial revolution. Freethinking stimulated human imagination that questions everything and

wondered at the mysteries of the universe. Men of the calibre of those 18th-century thinkers were rare in the 20th century as a more cynical and structured approach to science and thinking was promoted.

There were however exceptions and one Carl Sagan became one the century’s greatest science popularisers and thinkers. Sagan became one of the most influential astronomers of the 20th century

bringing a fresh approach to planetary science and in the face of much criticism questioned established theories about Venus, Mars, the formation of life and the manner in which to popularize space science.

Andrew who was inspired by Carl to support space science gives a very personal view of the man and his work. The presentation is illustrated with slides, audio, video and several surprising props!

26th Feb – Friday Club date

event cancelled

March 20th, 2021, 7 pm

Quasars and Galaxy Evolution.

Victoria Fawcett – Durham University

Red quasars: the missing link in Galaxy evolution?

Quasars are THE brightest known objects in the visible universe. They are so bright that they outshine the entire galaxy they sit in and are useful in all areas of astronomy, especially cosmology where they can be used as a probe for the early Universe. Most quasars appear very blue, but there are some that show much redder colours. These “red quasars” could be an important link in galaxy evolution and so understanding their properties is very important; our group have found fundamental differences in the radio properties of red quasars that support this scenario. In my work I use high resolution radio data and optical-near-infrared quasar spectra to explore the differences in red quasars; we find the red colours are caused by dust and that red quasars have a preference for compact radio morphologies. These results add weight to the emerging picture of red quasars being fundamentally different objects to blue quasars, and potentially represent an important phase in galaxy evolution.Member of the Department of Physics

Member of the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy

This will be a virtual talk on zoom.

26th March – Friday Club date

event cancelled

BAA Winchester Webinar

Details from BAA website.

April 17th 2021, 7 pm

The Appley Bridge Meteorite

Guest Speaker – Russel Parry Author

This is the fascinating story of the fall and find of the Appley Bridge meteorite in 1914, confusion with enemy Zeppelins, the confiscation of the meteorite by the police and its subsequent release for analysis.

This will be a virtual talk on zoom.

23rd Apr – Friday Club date

event cancelled

May 15th 2021, 7 pm

Anglo Saxon Astronomy

Guest Speaker – Martin Lunn Here in the UK our ancestors have a culture of science and observation as intriguing as Maya, Inca and other faraway peoples which we associate more readily with academic study.   Martin will be speaking from his home on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border near Skipton.   This will be a virtual talk on zoom.

28th May – Friday Club date

event cancelled

June 19th 2021, 7 pm

Virtual AGM Night
Including the Annual General Meeting.

Of course, this will be a virtual session on ZOOM software.

Have your say in running the society. Stand for election for posts. Lively discussion. Definitely not boring!

Followed by:

Talk by a local member. By tradition, recent years have been as described below.

EAST READING FESTIVAL Palmer Park will not take place this year

Sunday ?? June

Reading Astronomical Society stand.

Exhibition and solar observing.

We will be attending this annual local event with our telescopes suitably filtered for safe observing of sunspots and other activity on our local star.

Images of previous event.


July 17th 2021, 7 pm

An Arctic Eclipse

Guest Speaker Mike Frost

On March 20th 2015 a total eclipse of the Sun swept across the North Atlantic. The only places where a total eclipse could be seen from land were the Faroe Islands (where it was largely clouded out) and the territory of Svalbard in the High Arctic. I went to Longyearbyen on Svalbard, and then Tromso in northern Norway, with the Totally Insane Travel Society, a bunch of madcap and very talented imagers. This is the story of our arctic eclipse, a stunning sight in cloudless skies. And polar bears, shadow bands, frostbite, engima machines, fata morgana, reindeer pizza and pink bottoms.

In lieu of Mike’s expenses donations please, to The Alzheimers Society

This will be a virtual talk on zoom.

August 21st 2021, 7 pm

An evening of practical imaging and observing instruction.

Various members at their home locations on ZOOM.

Hints and techiques, advice on equipement with examples from members home observatories.

This will be a virtual talk on zoom.   IN NORMAL TIMES The venue is St. Peter’s Church Hall, Church Road, Earley.
Parking is available in the hall car park.
Typical meeting timings are….
7.00 – 8.30pm :: Announcements and speaker as detailed above.
8.30 – 9.00pm :: Refreshments and an opportunity to chat and browse the library.
9.00 – 9.45pm :: Miscellany of topics by members.