Astronomy Shows & Conferences

Video from International Astronomy Show 2018 (12-13 October 2018)

This is video from the International Astronomy Show in Stoneleigh Park 12-13/10/2018.


Video from IAS 2018:

Other posts on the International Astronomy Show 2018 with photos and impressions on the event:

International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day One 12/10/2018: Talks & Impressions

International Astronomy Show 2018 Day One – 12/10/2018: Photos of vendor displays

International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day Two 13/10/2018

International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day Two 13/10/2018

Rhys and I came back to the International Astronomy Show today on day two. I attended yesterday but this was his first visit this year.

This follows on from Geoff’s and my posts from yesterday:

International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day One 12/10/2018: Talks & Impressions

International Astronomy Show 2018 Day One – 12/10/2018: Photos of vendor displays

See also video from day two:

Video from International Astronomy Show 2018 (12-13 October 2018)

Rhys and I opted to attend two talks – one by David Bryant and another by Allan Chapman.

David’s talk was a fascinating exploration of different types of meteorites and their history.


International Astronomy Show 2018 Day One – 12/10/2018: Photos of vendor displays

Below are some photos from the vendor displays at the International Astronony Show 12/10/2018, which Geoff Dryland and myself visited.

This post follows on from the following post:

International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day One 12/10/2018: Talks & Impressions

Once you have read today’s post, you may also like to read the post from day two of the International Astronomy Show this year:

International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day Two 13/10/2018

See also video from the show at:

Video from International Astronomy Show 2018 (12-13 October 2018)


International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day One 12/10/2018: Talks & Impressions

Geoff Dryland and myself arrived early to meet Pete Hill, Ed Mann and Terry for the start of the first day of this year’s International Astronomy Show at Stoneleigh Park just south of Coventry around 4 miles beyond Warwick University. This annual show lasts two days and is located just southeast of Birmingham in the middle of the UK.

Plenty of space allows vendors to expand the area occupied by their stalls  in the display hall and to therefore display far more stuff than in some other astronomy conferences.The talks as always were great. Today we booked for all 5 speakers, thereby leaving us with limited time for looking at the vendors. I sm back here with Rhys tomorrow and he and I can then spend more time exploring the stalls.

The first talk was on creating simulations of the universe by a professor fron Nottingham. This was an unexpectedly excellent talk and even included information in free software to generate your own universe simulation on a Linux machine called Gadget – anyone can download this so let me know if you want the link. I think i am going to dowload it myself and give it a go……

The second talk was on Astrophotography. The speaker recommends Sequence Generator Pro and Straton software. He gave lots of detail on his photo processing techniques but my own lack of pre-existing knowledge of the area snd poor acoustics in the room meant most of it went over my head.

Next talk was about commercialisation and resource utilisation of space. Another really interesting and unusual topic with information that changed my perspective on the subject.

Meanwhile Ed had bought the lowest profile 2″ to 1.25″ adapter I have ever seen and Terry a Baader zoom eyepiece. Both purchases were bargains, so well done to both for spotting those!

Ed then came back with a planetarium projector of his very own…..see photo below where Terry interogates the new device…..take me to your leader!

There followed a talk on Exomars and finding life on Mars. For me this was most interesting talk of day with lots of detail on evolution of Mars over 3.8 billion years and bringing it right up to date with recent scientific papers.

The last talk of the day was another excellent discussion, this time around the solar wind.

Each talk was nearly one hour – much longer than those at Astrofest- so giving a chance to get far more under the service of a topic.

This was a great set of lectures. Definitely worth attending the conference! Only spent about 15 mins at stalls during the day and further half hour at end of day but tomorrow I am hoping to take more time to look at those with my son.

Photos below from talks and a couple vendors.

More photos from the vendors today can be seen st:

International Astronomy Show 2018 Day One – 12/10/2018: Photos of vendor displays

Rhys and I attended day two and photos and thoughts from that visit can be seen here:

International Astronomy Show 2018 – Day Two 13/10/2018

See also video from day two of the show at:

Video from International Astronomy Show 2018 (12-13 October 2018)



International Astronomy Show in Coventry Friday 12 and Saturday 13 October 2018

It’s back again! The IAS in Stoneleigh, Coventry. If you have never been then it is a wonderful opportunity to goggle at virtually every astronomy store in UK and many from a Europe all under one roof and gear some excellent talks. Over two days you can go for one or both. Much cheaper than Astrofest as you don’t need to pay for train fare and hotel accommodation!

A number of RAG members usually attend and we normally organise a meal in Lichfield after wards.

See info below for further details (PDF) :

International Astronomy Show 2018 Advert Astronomy Now July 2018


Various videos from Astrofest and International Astronomy Show over years

Following Ed’s and my recent trip to Astrofest in London, the following videos come from various recent astronomy conferences aimed at amateurs – if you are thinking of attending either the International Astronomy Show later this year or Astrofest next year, then these videos will give you a flavour of what’s in store for you!

Andy video files/Astrofest 2016 High Definition Movie(2nd copy).mp4 video files/Astrofest_2015_-080215a-for_computer-.mp4 video files/European Astrofest 2017 by Andrew Thornett video files/International Astronomy Show Stoneleigh Park 14-15 October 2016.mp4


Interview-with-Paul-Money-at-IAS-2014-06-08.mp4 (below):

Damian-and-Chris-members-RAG-at-exhibition-at-IAS-2014-06-07.mp4 (below):

Review of Astrofest conference 2018 on 9-10 February 2018

Ed Mann and I attended again the Astrofest amateur Astronomy conference in Kensington, London. As usual the talks were fantastic covering a wide range from being part of an astronaut rexperience in the antarctic to a review of Cassini and Juno to SETI, the radio universe, dark energy, Victorian amateurs by Allan Chapman, Libyan desert glass, New Horizons at Pluto and beyond and a range of others. One other attendee told memthat in her opinion the talks were betterthanb last year. I am not able to judge myself as they’re great every year in my opinion.

There were also plenty of visitors – this conference appears to be doing better than IAS in this respect. The final session was sold out.

However, the exhibitors were limited with virtually no bargains, hardly any stock and a generally depressive attitude which was a shame. Sadly this year this conference was not the place to come to find a wide range of kit.

Overall still an enjoyable experience and worth coming.

Andy and Ed

Video from Astrofest 2018 in London:

Lecture Theatre:


Andy tries to dock with the ISS on a Soyuz simulator: 


In my typical fashion, the most ridiculous thing happened to me whilst operating this simulator. I gave up just before the end, believing I would not succeed. I got up and then my educator suddenly shouted, “I have never seen that!” After I let go of the controls, the simulated Soyuz spacecraft drifted sideways to a perfect docking! I don’t think I would have succeeded in doing this had I carried on trying to dock the thing……so I ended up with a certificate of successful docking!!

Allen Chapman talks about Victorian grand amateurs in the lecture theatre:

Photos from some of other talks:

Dallas Campbell, TV presenter from Stargazing Live and Gadget show, with Andrew (below) :

Dallas Campbell talks to Astrofest:

The only stuff I bought from Astrofest this year – truly! Two mission patches for Tim Peake’s mission to ISS – one for me and one for Damien.

Jocelyn Burnell Lecture at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre

Since retiring a year ago I have rekindled my casual interest in astronomy by taking an online Astronomy GCSE course, joining the RAG and visiting places of astronomical interest, such as the world famous radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire. During my visit there on 1 February 2018, a famous astronomer, Dame Jocelyn Burnell was delivering a lecture on her discovery of pulsars in 1967.  She’s famous not only for this discovery but also for her controversial exclusion from the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery.

Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope

Although the radio telescope is an impressive feat of technology and engineering, the highlight of my visit was the lecture. The event sold out shortly after Christmas and so all 200 seats in the auditorium were occupied, she was obviously very popular with the astronomer fraternity.

She explained that the objective of her PhD was to discover more quasars (quasi stellar radio sources) but first she had to build her own radio telescope, and for this, like all fellow astronomy students back then, she was given a tool-kit; rugged pliers, wire snips and a screwdriver! Cambridge still used valves in their amplifiers, although transistors were available at the time! The new telescope covered several acres, used miles of cable, took 2 years of working in all weathers to complete and worked first time! It was a fixed structure, with no control over its direction.

Launch of IYA 2009, Paris - Grygar, Bell Burnell cropped.jpg                                                                                   Dame Jocelyn Burnell                                                                                 

She confessed to being so surprised at getting into Cambridge University that she was sure the University had made a grave mistake and she would be thrown out as soon as this was discovered. In the meantime, she would work flat out to get as much done before this happened. This, she said, was the incentive that drove her to work long hours and to accept the brunt of supervisor’s caustic comments.

The main task was inspecting miles of printout for anomalies and it was not long before she found one…then another…and another. It was a sign of the times that her supervisor (and recipient of the Nobel Prize) was arrogantly dismissive of her excitement and was told the source was not from outer space because of the pulse’s incredible regularity, it must be man-made interference.  And so began a laborious period of eliminating all possible spurious radio sources; badly suppressed vehicles, radio waves reflected from a corrugated iron shed roof and even from the Anglian Police Force radios. With an ironic smile she recalls telling her supervisor that if a vehicle was to blame it was setting off at 4am, then at precisely 4 minutes earlier each day and had been doing so for the past 2 weeks! The source was clearly emanating from the same point on the celestial sphere. With wry humour, she told how she played along with notion that it could be a man-made source, labellng the first anomaly or ‘bit of scruff’ as LGM-1; Little Green Man-1.

She recounted that to check the recurrence of one source she would need to be using the telescope at 2am but she was due to go to her home in Ireland with her fiance that day to announce their engagement…she duly stayed up all night and also made it home. Such was her determination.

With standard plotting paper speed the anomalies were too compacted to be analysed accurately, so the paper speed had to be  increased. But this meant each paper roll would last only 20 minutes. The solution was to only increase the paper speed just before the predicted time for the repeat showing of the anomaly. Unfortunately, this meant going out to the telescope control shed in the middle of the night sometimes.

We now know (partly due to astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle) that the anomalies are pulses from neutron stars rotating very rapidly and with incredible regularity, the LGM-1 has a rotation period of 1.3 seconds. Strong radio signals are emitted along the axis of the magnetic field and because this is inclined to the axis of rotation, the radio beam points in the direction of Earth once each rotation, causing it to pulse like a beam of light from a lighthouse.

Artist conception of a pulsar with its magnetic field lines and particle jets

Pulsar: a rapidly rotating neutron star with a strong magnetic field

During an interview with a reporter from the The Guardian she was asked what the new stars were called. Burnell said she had been too busy to think about it. The reporter suggested an abbreviation of pulsatiing radio star, and that was agreed.

During the post lecture questions Burnell was asked by one of the school children in the audience about being overlooked for the Nobel Prize. She has obviously fielded this question may times and her stance is well known; research supervisors take the flak if the project flops and the credit if it succeeds, no matter how well, she explained. In those days, students were regarded as ‘support’, the ‘labourers’ poring for hours over paper charts, whereas the supervisors initiate and direct the research and as such deserve the credit. She is clearly not bitter, and has received many other accolades and honours as ample compensation. She claims that by not getting the Nobel Prize, she is in good company. She is right, take a look at the achievements of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (composition of the stars) and Henrietta Leavitt (Cepheid period/luminosity), both worthy candidates.