The Rambling Astronomer –
previously The Astrognome and former Curator of Astronomy, Yorkshire Museum, York
If your Society is looking for a talk, try the list below from Martin.
Information sent in by Martin Lunn
With gatherings seriously impacted by the pandemic, many astronomical societies are now using Zoom. I have been offering talks in person to groups in my locality (within about an hour of the Skipton, North Yorkshire area) for many years, but through Zoom I can offer talks to societies all over the country.
Societies will go back to regular meetings when the pandemic is over but many have realised that putting some hybrid meetings into their schedule will give them access to speakers who are too far away to travel to a meeting.
I charge £40 for a Zoom presentation. Each talk lasts around 55 minutes, followed by time for questions. I have supplied a list of my talks, and would be delighted to pay a virtual visit to your group.
For more details please contact Martin Lunn
A Ramble through the Solar System
Take a journey to explore our local star, the Sun, together with eight planets, some which were known to astronomers living thousands of years ago and some that have been discovered in more recent times. We will learn about their moons together with the smaller bodies; the dwarf planets, asteroids, comets and meteors that complete our solar system.
The Anglo-Saxon period is often known as the Dark Ages because of the lack of information we have about this period of time, but astronomically it could not be more interesting. During this time there were several major events with global effects. It was a time of diverse views about the heavens in Britain, with Celtic, Greek, Saxon and Viking ideas all competing with each other.
Asteroids, Comets and the Death of the Dinosaurs
The Earth is near missed virtually every day by asteroids or lumps or rock, and some small ones do hit the Earth to be seen as spectacular fireballs burning up in the atmosphere. A fifty metre wide comet hit the Earth in 1908 over Siberia, destroying over 80 million trees. Sixty five million years ago a six mile wide asteroid crashed into the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs. When will the next one be?
Astronomy before the Telescope
We are used to hearing of fantastic discoveries made today by astronomers using powerful telescopes. Astronomers from around the world have studied the night sky for thousands of years. Using very simple equipment they made many fantastic discoveries, and some things they got very wrong. This is their story.
Astronomy in the Mediterranean
Many great civilisations flourished in the ancient Mediterranean. This talk takes us on an astronomical journey to Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia and the empires of Byzantium and Arabia. We will also visit Europe during the Renaissance. These were very different civilisations, each with their own interpretation of the night sky. Our modern view of the stars and constellations was shaped in this diverse part of the world, and the study of the oldest of all the sciences is still being undertaken in this region today. This is the story of Astronomy in the Mediterranean.
The Sun and the Northern Lights
Our local star, the Sun, dominates everything in the solar system. Worshipped as a god from the earliest of times, at one stage astronomers believed that people lived inside the Sun! Today our knowledge of the Sun has dramatically increased. The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are caused by flares coming from the Sun and striking the Earth. However, there is a potential danger because if these flares are powerful enough they can overload the very sensitive electronic equipment we rely on today. It has happened in the past and will probably happen again in the future.
John Goodricke and Edward Piggot: The Fathers of Variable Star Astronomy
They were an odd couple. John Goodricke was deaf and unable to speak, and Edward Piggot dressed like a dandy, but for a brief moment in time from 1781-1786 they changed the face of astronomy. They discovered stars that changed in brightness and explained why this happened. Goodricke would die before his twenty-second birthday and both their lives could have been written into a soap opera. This is the story of the Fathers of Variable Star Astronomy.
Our Neighbour The Moon
Fascinating us since the beginning of time, the Moon was even worshipped as a god in the past, for the protection its night-time light gave to ancient people. At one time, people thought that there were oceans on the moon and that creatures might live there. Today the Moon is a dead world but it is the only place apart from the Earth where people have set foot. Join Martin for a fascinating exploration of the Moon’s history.
Space in the 1960s
The space age began on October 4th 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik; the first man made object to be placed in orbit around the Earth. In the 1960s there was spectacular progress in the exploration of space. Robot space craft explored the Moon and the planets Venus and Mars, and in 1969 Men walked on the Moon. The 1960s saw the beginning of our attempt to cross the final frontier; the conquest of space.
Swept Under the Carpet: the forgotten story of astronomers Edward Crossley and Joseph Gledhill
The West Yorkshire town of Halifax was dominated by textile mills in the 19th century. Crossley Carpets made carpets which were exported around the world. What is less well known is that Edward Crossley and his employed assistant astronomer Joseph Gledhill had an observatory with the largest reflecting telescope in England. The two astronomers made massive contributions to the study of astronomy and after their deaths, Crossley’s two big telescopes, the 36 inch Common reflector and the 9.3 inch Cooke refractor, continued to be used in astronomical research.
On July 10th 1962 Telstar, the world’s first telecommunication satellite was launched. It allowed live pictures to be beamed around the world for the first time. From its first broadcast, which caused a row between France and England, to its early demise in 1963, Telstar’s story was eventful and ground-breaking.
A Very British Meteorite
In 1881 a team of workmen on a railway line near Middlesbrough had a close encounter with an intruder from outer space when a meteorite crashed onto the track. That meteorite has now become known as one of the most important on Earth. Join Martin for the curious and entertaining story of the Middlesbrough Meteorite.
The Barwell Meteorite
‘Twas the night before Christmas… and the festive season of 1965 would be like no other when, above the small Leicestershire village of Barwell, a very large turkey size meteorite was about to crash from the sky. This is the amazing story of the Barwell Meteorite.
The Pluto Story
Discovered as a planet in 1930 then relegated to a dwarf planet in 2006, Pluto has set astronomers many problems about its size and what kind of planet it really is. It was only in 2015, when the New Horizons space craft flew past Pluto, that we began better to understand this small world at the edge of the solar system. Join Martin to find out all about this small body with a big story.
The Star of Bethlehem
It is a star that most people have heard of, yet we know virtually nothing about it. Was it a miracle, was it a myth or was it a genuine astronomical event? This is an astronomer’s view of what the Star of Bethlehem could have been.
Thomas Cooke: Telescope Maker to the Empire
Born into a poor family, this is a rags to riches story about a self-taught man who would go on to become one of the greatest telescope makers. He built what was at the time the biggest telescope in the world, made a telescope for Prince Albert and even built steam cars.
The Vikings have acquired the reputation of being barbaric marauders. What is less well known is that they were very good astronomers. They produced their own maps of the night sky and have their own myths and legends to describe the sky. In this talk we will go back to the year 912 AD; a very good year to have been an astronomer, and we will look at the night sky as the Vikings would have seen it.
Few people realise just how much women have contributed to astronomy. Astronomy is seen as a male dominated science, yet over the last 4,000 years women have made many of the most important discoveries in astronomy – only for men to take all the credit! This is the women’s story.