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January 2018

History of Astronomy Group Meeting: ‘A Miscellany of Historical Astronomy Sites and Places of Interest in the South East of England’

January 23, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road
London, SE3 7SE United Kingdom
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Flamsteed History of Astronomy Group Meeting. A talk by Malcolm Porter. We all know about the Royal Observatory Greenwich in South East London and the Royal Greenwich Observatory Herstmonceux in Sussex, or at least we think we do! However, there are a good number of astronomy-related site around the South East of England that are not so obvious. This is a brief trip around London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex to take a look at some of these locations, showing what’s still…

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March 2018

History of Astronomy Group Meeting: ‘Ripples in time: The building of Greenwich Power Station and the unintended consequences for the Royal Observatory’

March 6, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, Greater London SE10 8XJ
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Built in two phases by the London County Council for the supply of electricity to their tramways, construction of Greenwich Power Station began in 1902. Sited just half a mile from the Royal Observatory and exactly on the line of the Greenwich Meridian, the vibrations it created posed a serious threat to the effective operation of the Observatory’s most important telescope, the Airy Transit Circle. Not only did this telescope define the Greenwich Meridian, it was also the ultimate source…

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April 2018

History of Astronomy Group Meeting: ‘William and Caroline Herschel: Partners in Exploration’

April 24, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, Greater London SE10 8XJ
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William & Caroline Herschel

Flamsteed History of Astronomy Group Meeting. The following talk will be delivered by Mona Evans.  In 1781, a German-born musician observing with a home-made telescope from his back garden in Bath, England, discovered a new planet, the first to be found since ancient times. We now call it Uranus. This unexpected discovery, which doubled the size of the known Solar System, propelled William Herschel to international celebrity.  But that was only the start. Sponsored by the king of England, he and his sister Caroline…

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May 2018

History of Astronomy Group Meeting: ‘Journey Into British Space’

May 22, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, Greater London SE10 8XJ
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Black Arrow launch vehicle at Woomera. This talk is a brief History of the UK Rocket and Space Programme and will be delivered by Malcolm Porter. Between 1950 and 1971 Britain had a space programme of its own which was, at times, as supplicated as that of the US and the USSR. Most of the initial efforts were in relation to military requirements but these later largely morphed into civilian initiatives such as satellite launching but then came political vacillation,…

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September 2018

RAS Library Visit

September 27, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House
London, W1J 0BQ United Kingdom
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Royal Astronomical Society We have arranged a visit to the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) Library on Thursday 27th September, starting at 2pm. The visit will last between 1 to 2 hours. The Royal Astronomical Society has a world-class collection in astronomy and geophysics that is far more comprehensive than the libraries of most universities and research institutions. During our visit, Dr Sian Prosser, will give us an introductory talk and will set out some rare treasures including a few Maunder…

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January 2019

History of Astronomy Talk: ‘Opportunity or exploitation: Women professionals at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich (1890–1895)’

January 8 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, Greater London SE10 8XJ
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Annie Maunder

The first women to be employed at the Royal Observatory Greenwich were Isabella Clemes, Alice Everett, Harriet Furniss, Edith Rix and Annie Russell. They were employed there as 'Lady Computers' between 1890 and 1895. Although the stories of Alice Everett and her Girton contemporary Annie Russell (the later Mrs Maunder) have been retold many times, those of the other three have languished in obscurity, as has the true reason for their employment. In this tangled tale, which draws on significant…

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March 2019

History of Astronomy Talk: ‘Through a Glass Clearly’

March 19 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, Greater London SE10 8XJ
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Great Equatorial Telescope

Tony Sizer, will be giving a talk entitled, ‘Through a Glass Clearly’ where he will take us through the history of the refracting telescope from 1608 until 1900. Tony is a former teacher of Chemistry, Science and Astronomy at Warwick School and Chigwell School and is currently one of the Astronomers at the Royal Observatory. Tony's professional background is as follows: MA (Cantab) Cert. Ed. (Cantab) Teacher of Chemistry, Science and Astronomy at Warwick School and Chigwell School 1969 –…

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April 2019

History of Astronomy Talk: ‘Measuring Time by Astronomy’

April 23 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, Greater London SE10 8XJ
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Atomic Clock Calibrated by Use of Ephemeris Time

Units for measuring time have been realised through the rotation of the Earth - the day. As the precision of clocks improved, it was found that the length of the day was variable. An astronomical solution was to use solar system orbits instead of Earth rotation to define the unit. This resulted in the adoption of Ephemeris Time in the 1950s, which defined the second inherited by today’s atomic clocks. It has also left a problem with ‘leap seconds’ which…

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May 2019

History of Astronomy Talk: ‘The Isaac Newton Telescope: A Historical Perspective’

May 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Avenue
Greenwich, Greater London SE10 8XJ
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Malcolm Porter will deliver a talk on the Isaac Newton Telescope. When it comes to funding science, and in particular astronomy in Britain, we have tried all sorts of options, the Monarch, private individuals, learned societies, Universities and, if the law of the imperative applied, even the British Government! Perhaps similar applies to all countries, however, perhaps the agreement to build what became the 98 inch Isaac Newton Telescope, initially at Herstmonceux was, possibly, the start of something much better…

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June 2019

History of Astronomy Talk: ‘Sir Arthur Eddington: England’s Luckiest Astrophysicist’

June 18 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road
Blackheath, Greater London SE3 7SE United Kingdom
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Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944)

Please note that this talk will be taking place at Mycenae House, not at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The total solar eclipse of May 1919 provided a well-timed opportunity to prove or disprove Einstein’s theory that gravity can bend light. A number of very fortunate circumstances came together, without which Arthur Eddington, who led one of the two expeditions, would not have been able to play his world-changing role in this extraordinary exercise. Eddington wasn’t the only important scientist in…

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