Brighton Astro

Brighton and Hove's astronomy club

Our next meeting is 7pm on Thursday 1st August 2024

About us

Brighton Astro is a place for cosmic enthusiasts from all walks of life to meet up, talk about the universe and gaze at the stars. Every month we host a talk, and sometimes we take our telescopes out too - weather permitting!

We're open to everyone, from beginners to experts. So why not join us and look to the stars?

Monthly meet ups

Once a month (usually the first Thursday) we gather for a presentation on an aspect of the universe. Our speakers range from experts in the field to members of the group; you don't need to know a lot when you come, but you'll definitely leave knowing more!

We're always on the lookout for our next speaker, so if you have something to share we'd love to hear from you.

After the meetings we often continue the discussion in a pub nearby. Brighton Astro is a great place to meet new people, have some fun and learn together.

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Next meeting:
Into the Darkness: Understanding the mysterious Dark Energy

Thursday 1st August 2024

Dr Eva-Maria Mueller
University of Sussex

Arrive from 7pm for a 7:30pm start

Wagner Hall
Regency Rd, Brighton

Join me on a journey into the enigmatic realm of dark energy, the unseen force accelerating the expansion of our universe. In this talk, I will guide you from the ground-breaking discovery of dark energy to the forefront of current research, unravelling its profound implications for the cosmos. Designed for curious minds of all backgrounds, I will illuminate the latest theories and experiments, revealing how dark energy shapes our universe's fate. Come along as we explore one of science's greatest mysteries, transforming our understanding of the cosmos and our place within it.

Eva-Maria Mueller is currently an Ernest Rutherford Fellow and proleptic lecturer at the University of Sussex studying the large-scale structure of our Universe to decipher the mystery of Dark Energy. Previously, she was a Dennis Sciama Fellow at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravity at the University of Portsmouth, and a research fellow at the University of Oxford. Eva-Maria gained her PhD from Cornell University researching extensions to the cosmological standard model.

See a list of our past talks

Past talks

  • Thursday 4th July 2024

    William Joyce

    Weird and Wonderful Worlds : A Whistlestop Tour of the Outer Planets

    A guided tour around the strange, alien worlds of the outer Solar System with stunning imagery of places and processes which challenge and expand our current understanding.

    Many unfamiliar and totally alien worlds have now been explored by robotic spacecraft. This talk will present amazing images and discuss unusual and fascinating facts about each Giant Planet and some bizarre moons, a few of which could even harbour life.

  • Thursday 6th June 2024

    Dr Sonali Shukla
    University of Cambridge

    Brown Dwarfs: Linking Stars and Planets

    Stars and planets are distinct astronomical objects yet their formation processes are intertwined. Brown dwarfs straddle both categories, exhibiting characteristics of both stars and planets but not quite fitting into either category. This talk will explore the history, discovery and latest results from the study of brown dwarfs, drawing parallels with low-mass dwarf stars and giant planets. Studying brown dwarfs enhances our understanding of concurrent star and planet formation, shedding light on the origin of the solar system and beyond.

  • Thursday 2nd May 2024

    Quantum talks

    It's that time of year again when Brighton Astro invites its members to take centre stage and talk on any subject they like for 10 minutes - as long as it is space related. This year we have a great line up and a brilliantly diverse range of subjects:

    • Simon Binns: I am a Lunatic
      Simon discusses his love of and fascination with the moon
    • Russell Flawn: My neighbour and the conCERNing discovery of a Lepton Pair
      A very brief history of the adventures of Carmen Hunt and her escapades at CERN as a student working with celebrity scientists when they discovered the Muon's secret twin sisters!
    • Julie McDermott: Astro for kids: encouraging curiosity about space through art
      A look at ways to inspire kids to delve into the wonders of astronomy and visualise tricky concepts through hands-on creative activities.
    • David Sang: What stars are made of
      How Cecilia Payne discovered the composition of the stars and invented the science of astrophysics.
  • Thursday 4th April 2023

    Neil Phillipson

    Mankind's Next Giant Leap

    Neil explains the incredible achievements of the post-Moon era - showing how the vast body of work the scientific community has done since the Moon landings has led us to the moment when we shall, at last, become a space-faring civilisation, ready to explore and colonise the Solar System and beyond - bringing vast benefits to Earth and transforming society for the better. He presents a bold vision of a better future - one in which innovation and progress flourish while war, poverty, illness and hunger are finally relegated to history.

  • Thursday 7th March 2024

    James Croft
    University of Sussex

    Eating the Sun: The Cultural Significance of Eclipses

    All throughout history, and all across the world, eclipses have been viewed as significant events. The civilisations of ancient China, ancient Egypt, and ancient Britain have seen in them signs and symbols, portents of things to come. What can we learn about our history - and about ourselves - from our species' response to eclipses across the ages? Join Dr. James Croft, University Chaplain and Lead Faith Advisor at the University of Sussex, to find out!

  • Thursday 1st February 2024

    Dr Darren Baskill
    University of Sussex

    Astrophotography - without a telescope!

    Digital cameras, originally developed for astronomical research in the 1970's & 80's, are now commonplace. With immediate feedback allowing a rapid learning curve, what used to take weeks or even years of dedicated practice can now be done within an hour. And as software and digital technology continues to rapidly improve, getting great photographs of the night sky has never been easier.

    In this lecture, Darren will share ideas for astrophotography that you can try at home - without the need for a telescope. From the Moon to the Milky Way, and from shooting stars to star trails, Darren will be sharing his tips on how to take great, original photographs of the night sky.

    Dr Darren Baskill has over 25 years of experience in astrophotography since studying astrophysics at the University of Leicester. He began using old-fashioned film and patience, and is now stunned on a regular basis at the sensitivity of modern digital cameras. Darren also initiated the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition when he worked at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, and is now a lecturer at the University of Sussex in Brighton.

  • Thursday 18th January 2024

    Professor Malcolm Longair
    University of Cambridge

    The JWST - from a gleam in the eye to spectacular success

    I have been fortunate enough to be at the forefront of all the developments which have led to the launch and incredible success of the JWST. These include the development of infrared and submillimetre astronomy, of the Hubble Space Telescope, of ALMA and the JWST. These projects will be set in the context of developments in Astrophysical Cosmology. We are now addressing key questions about the origin of galaxies and the stars within them. The lecture will be profusely illustrated with recent images and videos.

  • Thursday 7th December 2023

    Dr Robert Massey
    Royal Astronomical Society

    A Cluttered and Noisy Sky

    65 years ago the Soviet Union placed the first satellite in space. There are now around 5,000 satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO), the region up to 2,000 km above the ground, and their deployment is accelerating. 2019 saw the launch of Starlink, a satellite constellation built and launched by SpaceX, a system that on its own could soon have more than 30,000 spacecraft deployed. With other operators we could soon see up to 300,000 satellites in LEO by the end of this decade.

    This is nothing less than a step change in our use of space. And like most paradigm shifts, it will have significant consequences. A key example is how it will affect the science of astronomy and our view of the sky. Some estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 10 'stars' visible could be satellites, and professional and amateur astronomers alike now face significant challenges to our work. As a result our community has mobilised, working at a national, international and global level to tackle a complex problem, and to try to find a balance between the positive results of boosting communications and the impact on the space environment.

    Robert will set out the problem, what it means for scientists and the wider public, and what we can do about it.

  • Thursday 5th October 2023

    Professor Stephen Wilkins
    University of Sussex

    Exploring the Dark Universe with Euclid

    For the best part of a century cosmologists have known that our model of the Universe is incomplete. Specifically, beginning in the mid-20th century it was realised that the motions of stars and galaxies suggested the existence of additional matter that doesn't interact with light. This matter was subsequently dubbed dark matter. Toward the end of the 20th century it was also realised that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating, at odds with a Universe containing just matter. This led cosmologists to propose a new form of energy, dark energy.

    While the observational evidence for dark matter and dark energy is now very strong a theoretical understanding is still lacking. To better understand these phenomena cosmologists have created the Euclid mission which launched in early July this year. Euclid is a visible and infrared space observatory built by the European Space Agency and partners. Over its six year mission Euclid will survey around 1/3 of the entire sky allowing it to build a 3D map of the Universe. From this map it's possible to better constrain the properties of dark matter and dark energy hopefully providing new insights into their nature.

  • Thursday 7th September 2023

    Ivana Peranic

    Astrophotography 101 - planetary, lunar, and solar imaging

    If your astrophotography interest lies within our Solar System, join me for an evening of exploring ways of imaging the Sun, Moon and planets, as well as the International Space Station!

    These astrophotography disciplines are perfect for us city dwellers because they aren't made more difficult by light pollution. I will take you through equipment and processes needed to start taking photos of those rings of Saturn or craters on the Moon, as well as dedicated solar telescopes that show us incredible flares on the Sun!

  • Thursday 6th July 2023

    Tom Elphick

    Astrophotography 101 - Deep Sky Objects

    My interests in photography and space were bound to collide at some point!

    In this talk I will take you through my learnings and the practical side of capturing nebulae and galaxies with a telescope and camera.

    Astrophotography comes with a steep learning curve that requires a lot of perseverance and patience but is so rewarding! We'll deepdive into tools & processes and share some of the images captured above Brighton so you too can begin your astrophotography journeys!

  • Thursday 1st June 2023

    Dr Darren Baskill,
    University of Sussex

    Observing the Hawaiian Skies

    The best places to observe the night sky also have some of the most extreme conditions on the planet. British astronomers have access to telescopes at an altitude of 4,200m on the summit of Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. This talk is a personal perspective on making astronomical observations in harsh conditions using various observatories at the top of Mauna Kea.

  • Thursday 4th May 2023

    Archis, Philip, Jason, Simon and Behnood

    Quantum talks

    In physics, quantum refers to the smallest packet of something and, in this meeting, Brighton Astro will be hosting five short but beautifully-formed talks in one evening.

    Presented by Brighton Astro members, we will cover a wide array of subjects, including black holes, the new Vera Rubin observatory in Chile, astronomy in ancient Greece, space junk and the planetary orbits of Tatooine (topical for May the fourth...)

    A lot of ground will be covered in a short time so hang on to your hats for an information blitz and whirlwind of fun and interest.

  • Thursday 6th April 2023

    William Joyce

    A Whistle-stop Tour of the Inner Planets

    A guided tour around the inner Solar System reveals links between our planet and its siblings, with fascinating discoveries and new mysteries revealed by spectacular space missions.

    This discussion provides a quick introduction to the nearest planets in our Solar System, presenting their characters, unique features, and comparisons with our own planet. Many fascinating aspects will be encountered, with plenty of spectacular imagery from recent space missions.

  • Thursday 23rd February 2023

    Andrew McGee

    Cinema's Final Frontier: Exploring 120 Years of Space on the Big Screen

    Since the very first science fiction film in 1902, filmmakers and cinema audiences alike have been captivated by outer space. The cosmos has proven to be an ideal canvas for all genres, from futuristic spectacles to grounded scientific drama, existential horror to satirical comedy. During the last century, mankind's exploration of our solar system and beyond has inspired countless portrayals of space, which have pushed the boundaries of storytelling and filmmaking technology to their limits.

    In this talk, Andrew will discuss a wide range of films throughout cinema's history to explore how our relationship with space, and our understanding of it, has evolved over the decades.

    From Georges Méliès A Trip to the Moon to Christopher Nolan's Interstellar and (not quite) everything in between, what is it about space that sparks our imagination, and why does it keep bringing us back to the box office?

  • Thursday 26th January 2023

    Dr Paul Giles
    University of Sussex

    Cosmology in Crisis: Galaxy Clusters to the Rescue

    Over the past decade, there has been a growing crisis in astronomy. In the 1920s Edwin Hubble observed that the Universe is expanding. However, in recent years, the two main methods used to probe this expansion have produced inconsistent results. Observations of the cosmic microwave background using the Planck satellite and estimates of the recessional velocities of local galaxies don't match up. What could be causing this difference? Do we require a modification to our current understanding of the Universe, or is this simply a mistake in one of the measurements? We have other probes of cosmology that can help solve this issue, one of which is galaxy clusters. Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the Universe, and the number of them present in the Universe gives us an understanding of the conditions of the early Universe and hence cosmology. In this talk, Paul will show how galaxy clusters may come to the rescue in the current Hubble tension crisis.

  • Thursday 24th November 2022

    Colin Stuart

    Time in Einstein's Universe

    Few people know that time travel isn't just possible - it has already been done.

    In this mind-expanding talk, you will hear the stories of people who have travelled into their own futures and lived to tell the tale. And how you rely on the same physics whenever you use the map on your smartphone.

    We'll also look at messy time travel paradoxes, from if it's possible to kill a baby Hitler to the fact that the free will you think you have is probably a stubbornly persistent illusion.

    This is physics at its most interesting, guaranteed to get you thinking deeply and seeing the world anew.

  • Thursday 27th October 2022

    Jim Rowe, FRAS
    Co-founder of the UK Fireball Alliance and Fireballs Aotearoa

    Recovering freshly-fallen meteorites using meteor camera images - from Winchcombe to Otago

    When a fireball blazed across English skies 18 months ago, its trajectory was recorded by sixteen specialised meteor cameras. Scientists from the UK Fireball Alliance almost immediately knew where to look for the resulting Winchcombe meteorite. Jim Rowe, one of the co-founders of UKFAll talks about the organisation, its people, fireball events and how UKFAll knew where the Winchcombe meteorite fell. He'll also talk about the (so far) unsuccessful meteorite search in Shropshire in spring, his founding of Fireballs Aotearoa in New Zealand based on learnings from Winchcombe and the resulting September 2022 search for a freshly-fallen meteorite in Otago, New Zealand.

  • Thursday 20th October 2022

    Professor Mike Edmunds
    President of the Royal Astronomical Society

    The ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism and the mechanical universe

    Brighton and Hove U3a in conjunction with Brighton Astro invite their members to a special event.

    Mike Edmunds, the new President of the Royal Astronomical Society, will be giving a presentation on the ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism.

    How did our view of the Universe develop? Most of us have at least some hazy idea of the fundamental shift that came through the work of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton. The idea of a 'Mechanical Universe' tends to be associated with these 16th and 17th century pioneers. Yet recent investigations based around the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient Greek geared artefact from around 100 BCE, reinforce a view that the 'Mechanical' conception has been around for a much longer time - indeed, certainly as far back as the 3rd century BCE.

    The discovery of the structure and functions of the Antikythera Mechanism by modern imaging methods will be described, and a strong claim (based on literary references) will be made that knowledge of mechanical representations of the Universe was critical in the development of cosmology and philosophy. There is evidence that the technology persisted until its spectacular and rather sudden re-appearance in Western Europe around 1300 CE. From then on it is not hard to chart a path through the astronomical clocks of the 16th century. But is a mechanical viewpoint still useful in 21st century physics?

  • Thursday 29th September 2022

    Dr Stephen Wilkins
    University of Sussex

    First Light with JWST

    The James Webb Space Telescope, which launched on Christmas Day 2021, is the long-awaited successor to both the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. JWST is an international collaboration, featuring strong involvement from the UK. Ultimately thousands of scientists from around the world will use data from JWST to answer a range of scientific questions. JWST will enable an enormous range of science from allowing us to identify the first stars and galaxies to form in the Universe to probing the atmospheres of alien planets. In this talk I'll introduce some of the first observations, and scientific results, from JWST.

  • Thursday 25th August 2022

    William Roper
    University of Sussex

    Building A Universe In A Box

    Galaxies are as diverse and complex as people, however, they evolve over distinctly non-human time scales and their unfathomable size means they can't be poked and prodded in a laboratory. Instead, to unlock the secrets of their formation and evolution, we look out into the Universe using telescopes (such as the Hubble Space Telescope or Webb Space Telescope). Unfortunately, these only provide a (albeit very pretty) snapshot of a galaxy, frozen in time. To truly understand how galaxies evolve we need something else: simulations! But how do these work? How do you take a computer and reproduce a population of galaxies? In this talk, I will show exactly how astrophysicists build these toy Universes, and how they help us understand our own Universe's past, present and future.

  • Thursday 28th July 2022

    Dr Alexandra Loske
    The Royal Pavilion & University of Sussex

    Women and the Moon

    The principle of male and female duality has in many cultures and for thousands of years been compared to the juxtaposition of the Sun and the Moon - the two most prominent objects in the sky. In many - but not all - languages and cultures, the Moon is female. Yet, so far, only men have walked on the Moon, and the role of women in lunar culture and exploration has been undervalued. In this talk, Alexandra will provide an enlightening overview of women and the Moon in literature, art, and science, from the ancient to the new, via overlooked female astronomers and strong female characters in science fiction.

  • Thursday 26th May 2022

    Dr Simon Steel,
    Deputy Director of the Carl Sagan Center

    SETI: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence

    Our guest speaker this month is Dr Simon Steel, Deputy Director of the Carl Sagan Center at SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) to discuss his work and the SETI project. This is a unique opportunity to learn about what is arguably the most exciting project in all of space exploration, the search for other intelligence life.

  • Tuesday 25th February 2020

    William Joyce

    The Search for Intelligent Life in Deep Space

    Are there other intelligent beings in the universe? How can modern science try to answer this age-old question? Prepare for a glimpse into the scientific method applied to the search for alien intelligence.

    The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence attempts to discover, once and for all, an answer to the age-old question of whether other intelligent life exists among the stars. This discussion describes how searches for signs of intelligent life are conducted and informed by scientific astronomical considerations. The implications of search results to-date are explored including thought-provoking ideas such as the concept of Galactic colonisation and a possible glimpse of the future with speculation about interstellar travel.

  • Tuesday 28th January 2020

    Ciaran Fairhurst, University of Sussex

    10 Hubble Images we just can't get enough of. You won't believe number 4!

    The Hubble space telescope turns 30 in April. From detailed images of the planets of the solar system to studies of the entire Universe's evolution - Hubble has possibly been the most successful space science project in a generation. To celebrate three decades in the sky, join me for a rundown of its greatest hits the only way millennials know how - with a numbered list.

  • Tuesday 10th December 2019

    Brighton Astro Xmas space quiz

    Back by popular demand... come and join us for a Brighton Astro xmas space quiz!

    Don't worry if you don't know people, we'll be putting together teams on the night, so just come along.

    A bit of space knowledge may help but it's not essential, we'll try to make sure the teams are evenly matched.

  • Tuesday 27th November 2019

    Dr Dirk Froebrich, University of Kent

    HOYS-CAPS - Hunting Outbursting Young Stars

    I would like to introduce to you our observational citizen science project Hunting Outbursting Young Stars with the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (HOYS-CAPS) at the University of Kent.

    The project aims to measure the brightness of young stars in selected young clusters/star forming regions in multiple optical filters over a long (~20yr) time with a high cadence (1-5days). Given weather constraints we aim to do this as a collaboration of amateur astronomers from the UK, Europe and from across the globe. The light-curves we are obtaining will be used to study multiple aspects of the formation of stars and planets. In particular we are aiming to characterise the structures in accretion disk around the young stars in unprecedented detail and to study the mass accretion history of stars. We are of course also keeping an eye out for the most unusually behaved objects.

    We have so far 54 people/observatories that are actively participating in the data taking for our 21 targets, and we have obtained ~8800 images. In total our database now contains ~91.5 million brightness measurements of stars. Some of these have already been used in 3 publications with amateurs (if they wish) as co-authors, and several more are in preparation.

  • Friday 1st November 2019

    Professor Lucie Green

    Our Brilliant Sun

    110 times wider than Earth; 15 million degrees at its core; an atmosphere so huge that Earth is actually within it: come and meet the star of our solar system. Light takes eight minutes to reach Earth from the surface of the Sun, but its journey within the Sun takes hundreds of thousands of years. This talk will take you from inside the Sun to its surface and onwards to Earth, to discover how the Sun works. Find out how a solar storm can threaten the modern technology that society relies on and learn more of the latest research in solar physics.

    Lucie Green is Professor of Physics at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory. She studies the Sun and is particularly interested in the Sun's magnetic field and how solar weather can affect us here on Earth. She is well known for her appearances on Stargazing Live and The Sky at Night.

    Presented with Brighton Cafe Scientifique

  • Tuesday 24th September 2019

    Melanie Vandenbrouck, Royal Museums Greenwich

    Picturing the universe

    The winners of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition will be announced at Royal Museums Greenwich on 12 September 2019. Long time judge and art curator Melanie Vandenbrouck will be talking about some of her favourites from this and previous years of the world's greatest amateur astrophotography. She will show that you don't necessarily need expensive equipment or deep astronomical knowledge to create inspiring, moving or impressive pictures of the universe. Creativity, an eye for composition, or being there at the right time are sometimes all it takes.

  • Tuesday 27th August 2019

    Meirin Oan Evans, University of Sussex & ATLAS Experiment at CERN

    A tunnel to the beginning of time

    As astronomy enthusiasts, you may have heard of ways to study the Big Bang using telescopes and space satellites. But is there any other way? CERN, the biggest science laboratory in the world, is trying to do just that. 100m underground at CERN, there's a 27km round tunnel called the Large Hadron Collider, where we're trying to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang here on Earth. This will allow us to tackle really big questions such as: What are the building blocks of matter? What are the forces between them? What happened to antimatter? What's dark matter? What was the early universe like and how did it evolve? What about gravity? Is there anything else we haven't thought of…?

  • Tuesday 30th July 2019

    Melanie Vandenbrouck, Royal Museums Greenwich

    Curating the Moon

    Melanie Vandenbrouck is Curator of Art post-1800 at Royal Museums Greenwich. In 2019, she is curating two exhibitions about the Moon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. Moonlight at the Hasselblad Foundation (to 22 September), focuses on contemporary lens-based artists responses to the Moon since Apollo. The Moon at Royal Museums Greenwich looks at humanity's long fascination for our cosmic companion. A long-time lover of the Moon, she found a new fascination for astronomy thanks to the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year Competition of which she has been a judge since 2013.

  • Tuesday 25th June 2019

    Colin Stuart

    How We'll Live on Mars

    Colin is an astronomy speaker and author who has talked to over half a million people about the universe, ranging from schools and the public to conferences and businesses.

    His books have sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide and he's written over 150 popular science articles for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist, BBC Focus and the European Space Agency.

  • Tuesday 28th May 2019

    Dr David Whitehouse

    Apollo 11 - The Inside Story

    Local author David Whitehouse will recount the story of the Apollo moon landing as told by the crew of Apollo 11 and the many other astronauts who paved the way or followed after the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, alongside Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Astronauts, engineers, politicians, NASA officials, Soviet rivals - all tell their own story of a great moment of human achievement.

  • Tuesday 30th April 2019

    Quantum talks

    In physics, quantum refers to the smallest packet of something and, in this meeting, Brighton Astro will be hosting four short but beautifully-formed talks in one evening. Presented by Brighton Astro members, we will cover a wide array of subjects such as supernovae, astro-photography, the Apollo missions and animals in space. A lot of ground will be covered in a short time so hang on to your hats for an information blitz and whirlwind of fun and interest.

  • Tuesday 26th March 2019

    Nick Sayers

    Art inspired by astronomy, physics and maths

    Local artist Nick Sayers will talk about his science-inspired interactive art projects, including Cycle The Solar System, Bicycle Drawing Machines and sun-capturing pinhole cameras. He will discuss how - through these works - he has creatively explored astronomy, physics and mathematics, making these abstract subjects more accessible to a wider audience.

  • Monday 25th February 2019

    Melanie Davies, Creative Space

    The Pleiades: History, myths & science

    The Pleiades, in the constellation of Taurus and has been an object of fascination throughout human history.

    This lecture starts with a historical overview of the oldest known representations of this glistening cluster of young stars. It goes on to discuss some of the better known myths and legends associated with the group. Drawing on scientific papers, the lecture then lays out some of our current knowledge about the Pleiades including their evolution, properties and the possible fate of this most beautiful open cluster.

  • Tuesday 29th January 2019

    Dr Stephen Wilkins, University of Sussex

    Exploring the End of the Dark Ages

    As we look out in to the Universe we also look back in time. Eventually we reach a period of the Universe's history before stars (and galaxies) had formed; these are the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were brought to an end by the formation of the first stars and super-massive black holes some few hundred million years after the big bang. The identification of these first objects is one of the goals of modern extragalactic astronomy.

    While tremendous progress has been made with Hubble, its small mirror and lack of infrared capability limits its ability to probe this critical period of the Universe's history. However, in the next decade a number of new facilities will be coming online that will shine a light on this critical period in the Universe's history. These include: the Webb Telescope, the successor to both the Hubble and Spitzer space observatories due to be launched in 2021; the new generation of "extremely large" ground based telescopes; and the Square Kilometre Array, the next generation radio telescope currently under construction in Australia and South Africa.

  • Tuesday 27th November 2018

    Becky Williams

    Viewing the high redshift Universe (in 3D)

    (No 3D glasses necessary!)

    I will present some of my research which focuses on the study of very distant (i.e. high redshift) galaxies using 3D integral field spectroscopy in order to better understand how galaxies evolved. High redshift galaxies are of great interest as they give us a direct view into the past allowing us to explore the depths of the early Universe. However studying them is not an easy task as these extremely distant galaxies are very faint and notoriously difficult to detect. But we like a challenge!

    I will discuss some of the underlying physics, techniques and the motivations behind these studies, while drawing on my own results for examples.

  • Tuesday 30th October 2018

    Simon Holroyd

    Professor Stephen Hawking

    Professor Stephen Hawking is an internationally renowned scientist. Why is it that someone once given only two years to live in his twenties was still working after most of us would have retired. What drove this extraordinary person towards learning and sharing the great mysteries of the universe for over half a century? This talk aims to provide some background on Prof. Hawking, his life and times, how he became the most famous scientist in the world, and the legacy he leaves behind.

  • Tuesday 25th September 2018

    Francesco Andreoli

    Earth: a planet for life

    Are we alone in the Universe? Is our planet so unique that we only find the conditions for the development of intelligent life here on Earth? During this talk Francesco will explain what makes the Earth so special and how its physical properties led to the development of life. He'll then ponder how likely it is we will find similar conditions elsewhere in space.

    Francesco Andreoli is a Professional technical translator and interpreter Born in San Giovanni Lupatoto, small town near Verona, Italy. Grew up in Milan. Moved to London in 1974. Moved to Lewes in 2010, to Brighton 2015. Likes photography and Videoing. Interested in Sciences, Astronomy, Evolution of Man, Science-Fiction, Bible studies, All combining to produce the Speech about the Universe, Life and Man. Tendentially skeptical about everything.

  • Tuesday 28th August 2018

    Paul Marchant

    Casting Light on Light

    Pollution from lighting has a negative impact on observational astronomy and this impact may well get considerably worse, without opposition. However, it is not just astronomy that it is affected. This presentation will examine the effects and side-effects of lighting.

    Paul Marchant is a Chartered Statistician (CStat) of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) with a PhD in astrophysics. He has served on the Council of the RSS and chaired the Leeds and Bradford RSS Local Group. Since retirement, he holds visiting fellowships at both Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds. He was involved in the Loss of the Night Network (LoNNe), an initiative of European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) and is an affiliate of the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies, based at the University of Utah. He takes an interest in evidence-based policy generally and sees good statistics as essential in separating ‘the wheat from the chaff'. He has submitted evidence to Select Committee Inquiries into both Research Integrity and Light Pollution … and there is a link! He is sceptical of claims of significant safety benefits of brighter, whiter public lighting, see Marchant P (2017) ‘Why Lighting Claims Might Well Be Wrong', International Journal of Sustainable Lighting 19, 69-74

  • Tuesday 31st July 2018

    Dimitrios Theodorakis, University of Sussex

    A mini tour of the outer solar system

    A mini tour of the outer solar system - current missions/research on the gas giants and then my area of research which is objects past Neptune such as Pluto, Sedna and maybe Planet 9

  • Tuesday 26th June 2018

    Professor Kathy Romer, University of Sussex

    Clusters of galaxies - the shy giants of the universe

    Clusters of Galaxies, when viewed with telescopes on Earth and in space, are amongst the most beautiful objects in the night sky. Theirs is not a benign beauty: they play host to the most violent and energetic explosions in the present-day Universe. This lecture will review the historical contributions of that studies of clusters have made to the theory of Big Bang Cosmology, and also describe how current research into clusters at Sussex is uncovering the mysteries of dark matter, dark energy and black holes.

  • Tuesday 29th May 2018

    Colin Stuart
    Astronomy author, writer and speaker

    How To Weigh A Universe

    The universe is a wondrous place filled with extraordinary objects. Just as extraordinary is our ability to understand them. In this talk - packed full of stunning visuals and the latest scientific thinking - you'll hear how we're able to put the universe on the scales. To work out what things in space weigh without ever leaving the Earth. We'll meet some of the most colourful and eccentric astronomers in history and marvel at just how much of space we're yet to understand.

    Colin is an astronomy speaker and author who has talked to over a third of a million people about the universe, ranging from schools and the public to conferences and businesses.

    His seven books have sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide and he's written over 150 popular science articles for publications including The Guardian, New Scientist, BBC Focus and the European Space Agency.

  • Tuesday 24th April 2018

    Irv Bartlett, and Dark Skies Dan from the South Downs National Park

    An Introduction to Astrophotography and Telescopes

    A double-header talk, first we will have an introduction to astrophotography from local photographer and Brighton Astro regular Irv Bartlett, followed by an introduction to telescopes from Dark Skies Dan from the South Downs National Park

  • Tuesday 27th March 2018

    Mark Crowe

    Cassini's mission to Saturn

    A look at the history, science and findings of the Cassini missions since it's launch in 1997 - including stunning images captured across 2 decades of discovery...

    Cassini began the first in-depth, up-close study of Saturn and its system of rings and moons in 2004. After its four-year prime mission, it's tour was extended twice.

    During the two-year Cassini Equinox Mission, the spacecraft made 60 additional orbits of Saturn, 26 flybys of Titan, seven of Enceladus, and one each of Dione, Rhea and Helene.

    And in 2010, the spacecraft began a second, seven-year-long, extended mission called the Cassini Solstice Mission, concluding with 22 deep dives between Saturn's cloud tops and innermost ring before it plunged into the giant planet's atmosphere.

  • Tuesday 27th February 2018

    Ciaran Fairhurst, University of Sussex

    What keeps astronomers awake at night

    Astronomy is ridiculously ambitious: we are attempting to chart the history of the entire universe - and everything in it - from the Big Bang to the present day. So far we've done a pretty good job; we know why eclipses happen, how planets form and how stars die. We know about planets around other stars, distant galaxies and even how galaxies clump together to form structures inadequately described as humongous. What I want to do is talk about the gaps, the things we almost know but not quite. I'll try to show you why they are so tough, and how we're attacking them. We call them "open questions" but really they're what have kept astronomers observing and theorising for millennia: they're what keeps us up at night.

  • Friday 16th February 2018

    Dr Francisco Diego, UCL

    Think Universe! (part of the Brighton Science festival)

    Mysterious creation myths still influence our culture, but what does science say about the origins of the universe? Join astronomer Dr Francisco Diego for a fascinating talk on the relevance of science to modern culture.

  • Tuesday 30th January 2018

    José Vieira, University of Sussex


    Cosmology is perhaps best described as "the study of the Universe as a whole". What does the Universe look like at the largest scales? How did it come to be? How will it evolve in the distant future? These are all important questions which cosmology deals with.

    In this talk we will briefly review the history of cosmology - from when it was "born" of Einstein's theory of relativity until recent years, when remarkable observational successes have allowed it to mature into a fully-fledged scientific field.

  • Tuesday 12th December 2017

    Brighton Astro's xmas (pub) quiz!

    Come and join us for a Brighton Astro xmas space quiz!

    We have space (sorry) for 50 people. 8 teams of 6. Don't worry if you don't know people or have a team ready, we'll be putting together teams on the night, so just come along...

    A bit of space knowledge may help but not essential, we'll try to make sure the teams are evenly matched.

  • Tuesday 28th November 2017

    Nicholas Yeomans

    Triton - Neptune's major moon

    Join us to hear all about Triton, the largest moon of Neptune. Nick will tell us about its origins, nitrogen geysers, and its retrograde orbit.

    Triton's recent occultation of a star gave astronomers the first opportunity since the 1990s to detect atmospheric changes.

  • Tuesday 31st October 2017

    Peter Burr

    Moons of the solar system

    "Moons...they're just boring lumps of rock aren't they?"

    Yeah right.

    Our Solar system moons vary hugely and in total there are...well come to our October meet and find out!

  • Tuesday 26th September 2017

    Jarvis Brand
    Planetarium coordinator,
    The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux

    Twenty(ish) ways the universe wants to kill you

    The universe is not your friend! You might think that the universe is a nice stable place that has allowed life to develop but we're a freak, a long shot, a straight flush in the poker hand of life and the cosmos stacks the cards against you and we're never more than a statistic away from annihilation.

    In this light hearted look at our own extinction Jarvis Brand discusses a range of ways from the small to the large in which the end could come from rogue asteroids and greenhouse effects to the big rip and membrane collision. How dangerous are they and where can we stand at a safe distance to watch the fireworks?

    Jarvis Brand (B.Sc. (hons), M.Sc., PGCE) studied Astrophysics and Physics at the University of Birmingham where he was a research associate. He now runs the planetarium for the Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux.

  • Tuesday 29th August 2017

    Dr Stephen Wilkins, University of Sussex

    An introduction to Relativity

    Einstein's special and general theories of relativity are physical theories regarding the relationship between space and time in addition to being the current description of gravity in modern physics. Since their development in the early 20th century they been subject to intense scrutiny and empirical validation, with the most recent example being the discovery of gravitational waves. Relativity has also drawn significant attention outside the physical sciences because of some of the seemingly counter-intuitive implications such as time dilation and length contraction, concepts which have become science fiction staples. In this talk I'll attempt to provide an accessible introduction to relativity and its implications.

  • Tuesday 25th July 2017

    Peter Burr

    The Voyager Missions

    40 years ago, two spacecraft were sent on a journey, not of one lifetime but thousands of lifetimes. Meet the Voyagers and marvel at their missions into the unknown!

  • Tuesday 27th June 2017

    Daniel Moinar, University of Sussex

    Galaxy evolution

    What would the sky look like through eyeballs the size of tennis courts? What could we see if we had radio-wave vision? Come and find out at our next Brighton Astro meet up on Tuesday 27th June where PhD student Dániel Molnár will be talking about the giant machines that allow us to do this, and what we learn from them. In his PhD, he studies all different types of galaxies, from "average" ones to violent and intense so-called active galaxies.

  • Tuesday 30th May 2017

    Ciaran Fairhurst, University of Sussex

    Detecting the most distant galaxies

    One of the salient questions in Astronomy is "How far away is it?". As our equipment both literally and philosophically has improved, this question has driven our view of the universe to completely change. From a flat disc in the centre of the universe below a static, unchanging heavens to the modern day view: that the universe is an ever changing mess in which we just happen to be along for the ride. During this talk I'll try to talk about the how measuring distances is done, describe what kinds of celestial objects hold the records for farthest object, and briefly outline how to use a telescope as a time machine.

  • Tuesday 25th April 2017

    Group astrophotography show-and-tell

  • Tuesday 28th March 2017

    Gareth Jenkins

    Neutron Stars

  • Monday 27th February 2017

    Gordon Laing

    An introduction to Astrophotography

    Gordon is the locally based founder and editor of, the site to visit for the most comprehensive camera reviews and discussions. He'll be taking us through the popular subject of astro-photography, sharing his vast knowledge of photography and technical know-how to help us all achieve those stunning shots of the night skies that we love. We doubt you'll find anybody that knows a camera inside and out better than Gordon and we are excited to have such an authority address the group. There'll be something for all levels and it's sure to garner wide interest so make sure you arrive early to 68 Middle Street and take this rare chance to pick the brains of a real expert.

  • Tuesday 31st January 2017

    Gareth Jenkins

    Black holes

  • Tuesday 29th November 2016

    Pete G

    Dark matter

  • Tuesday 25th October 2016

    Olle Akesson


  • Tuesday 27th September 2016

    Phil McAllister

    The big bang

  • Tuesday 30th August 2016

    Richard Dallaway


  • Tuesday 26th July 2016

    Pete G

    The night sky - beyond our solar system

  • Monday 20th June 2016

    Pete G

    Equinoxes and Solstices

    Mat Cobianchi


  • Tuesday 24th May 2016

    Pete G

    The night sky - our solar system

    Mat Cobianchi


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Brighton Astro doesn't have formal membership. If you would like to come along to one of our monthly gatherings, please sign-up for free via our meetup page.

If you sign up via meetup but can no longer attend, please update your status to say that you are no longer attending so that someone on the waiting list gets a place.

Please only come along if you've signed up, as we're limited on space so won't be able to fit anyone else in.

Are you under 18? Please see our juniors section.

You can find details about our constitution and steering committee meetings in our members' area.

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What's astronomy without stargazing? If you've never seen the moon up close, been awe-struck by the rings of Saturn or wondered at the Milky Way then this opportunity is not to be missed.

Stargazing is always at the mercy of the weather and meet ups can be at short notice, so keep an eye on our social media feeds and the sky for updates!

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Contact us

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People of all ages are welcome to attend Brighton Astro events.

Children and young adults under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Our monthly gatherings may have alcohol for sale at the venue.


If you do have any specific needs regarding accessibility or health please contact us and we'll do everything we can to make sure they are accommodated.

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