Astronomer Royal to address mysteries of the cosmos in lecture near Portsmouth

Graham Bryant, the chairman of Hampshire Astronomical Group, with one of the telescopes ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151542-494)
Graham Bryant, the chairman of Hampshire Astronomical Group, with one of the telescopes ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151542-494)
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ONE of Britain’s most esteemed stargazers is preparing to give a lecture on the cosmos.

Professor John Brown, the Astronomer Royal of Scotland, is the guest speaker at the annual Ray Bootland Memorial Lecture hosted by the Hampshire Astronomical Group.

Group chairman Graham Bryant said interest in astronomy was booming as excitement over recent phenomenon such as the red supermoon and lunar eclipse proved.

Mr Bryant said: ‘The eclipse was well publicised in the news, and then there was the discovery of proof of flowing water on Mars.

‘There would have been reports about this kind of thing in the past but there is a lot more of it now.

‘Plus there’s a lot happening in terms of space exploration and it’s not just Nasa any more.

‘You’ve got the European Space Agency, you’ve got the Chinese doing things – there are a lot more people playing the field.’

The title of this year’s lecture is ‘Shedding light on supersonic snowballs in hell – the physics of close comet-aun encounters’.

Mr Bryant said the topic was sure to cause a stir following this year’s successful mission by the European Space Agency to land the Rosetta probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Prof Brown has been awarded the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society for his pioneering work diagnosing solar high energy particles using data from spacecraft.

The lecture takes place on Friday from 7.45pm at the Clanfield Memorial Hall.

Tickets are £3 for non-members of the group and are available on the door.

n To meet some of the faces behind the Hampshire Astronomical Group and find out more about what they do, pick up a copy of The News on Saturday. The band of stargazers go under the spotlight in this week’s Weekend magazine cover story by reporter Stuart Anderson.