South West Astronomy Fair

Dr Elizabeth Pearson
Prof Nick Evans
Prof Nick Evans: is a theoretical particle physicist and string theorist at the University of Southampton. He has previously worked at Yale and Boston Universities in the US. Nick works on Nothing! He's very interested in the properties of empty space which turns out to not be empty at all but full of elementary particles such as quarks and the higgs boson. This stuff generates the masses of the constituents of atoms and hence all the mass in the Universe. Well so he thought, until it turned out that everything he knew is only 4% of the mass out there. Now he ponders what the Dark Universe of Dark Matter and Dark Energy are. 

David Boyd

I got hooked on astronomy, like many people of my age, by reading Patrick Moore’s books. I joined the British Astronomical Association in 1967 and for the last 14 years have been a member of its Council including serving as President. After gaining a PhD working on an experiment at CERN, I joined the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory where I spent the rest of my scientific career. 

My early days in astronomy were spent in casual visual observing. I then discovered CCD cameras and realised that with one of those I could measure the brightness of stars. Since then I’ve spent many years doing CCD photometry of variable stars and occasionally writing up the results in astronomical journals. More recently I started experimenting with spectroscopy, first with a Star Analyser diffraction grating and later a LISA slit spectrograph. This opened up a whole new world. Stars were no longer just points of light which varied, they now revealed their real physical and chemical nature.

In my talk I will describe how spectroscopy began and how it led to the development of astrophysics. I will show how amateur astronomers can make a useful scientific contribution using equipment in their back gardens and illustrate this with some of my own observations.

Dacvid Boyd

Chris Starr  FRAS FBIS, IAAA Associate Member

Chris Starr is a space activist, writer and speaker.  After working as Head of Geography and Space Science at an international school in Switzerland - where he built a small observatory and organised public outreach events, including designing a major outdoor ‘From Earth to the Universe’ exhibition for IYA 2009 in the ski resort of Villars -, he returned to the UK in 2011 to concentrate on STEM outreach. He founded the Wells & Mendip Astronomers in Somerset, of which he is Chairman. He is a staff writer for the RocketSTEM Media Foundation’s online educational magazine, and a contributing writer for the BIS’ ‘Spaceflight’ magazine. He is also an Associate Member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists, for whom he has organised two major astronomical and space art shows in the UK with artist David A. Hardy.

Originally a graduate of the London School of Economics, Chris also studied Astronomy and Planetary Science with the Open University. His main fields of interest are in Planetary and Earth Sciences and Solar System history, as well as in unmanned and manned space exploration. He has been fascinated by the space programme since hearing the captivating ‘bleep-bleep’ of Sputnik as a young child, and believes firmly that, in the words of Tsiolkovsky, we ‘cannot remain in the cradle forever.’

Chris Starr