Astronomy Talks

Valerie is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and has ten 45 minute talks available.

Bookings in the UK:

Apart from lecturing on Cruise Ships (see "Cruises" page), Valerie has presented over 70 Astronomy talks to organizations such as the WI, U3A and Probus, particularly in Oxfordshire. She has also recently started giving presentations on Zoom fro her home.


(1) A Tour of the Universe

A journey around our beautiful Universe from the Solar System out to the Milky way and beyond.

The talk is illustrated with stunning images and video clips.

(2) Observing the Universe

What you might expect to see if you look up at the night sky. This includes descriptions of the Moon, Sun, Planets, Stars, Constellations, Galaxies, Meteor Showers and more.

(3) Myths and Legends of the Stars

How other cultures have attempted to interpret the night sky. What legends exist in these cultures? This talk includes tales from the Aborigines, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese.

(4) Exploring the Universe

What equipment is available to the amateur to help explore the Universe? Where are some of the major observatories in the world and what have they achieved?

(5) The Big Bang

What was the "Big Bang"? Why is it the accepted theory? How did the Universe evolve after the Big Bang? How will it all end? What is the evidence for this?

(6) How Do They Know What They Know?

How do Astronomers know the distances to stars and planets, the temperatures and chemical compositions of stars, the age of the Universe and other things? This is your chance to find out!

(7) The Northern Lights

What are the Northern Lights? What Myths and Legends exist about them in ancient cultures ? What is the scientific explanation of them? When is it best to see them? Where is it best to see them? How do you photograph them?

(8) Eclipses

What are eclipses? Why do they occur? What do you see during a solar or lunar eclipse? How can eclipses be predicted? This talk was prepared specially for the total eclipse of the sun over the Faroes in 2015. It has recently been modified to describe the total eclipse in Indonesia on March 9th 2016.

(9) Reading the Night Sky

A demonstration of the computer program "Starry Night". Learn how to use this program to recognize the major constellations in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. On clear nights this can be followed by a tour of the real night sky using a laser pointer.

(10) The Race to the Moon (Dr. Michael Calderbank)

The story of space exploration from Sputnik through Mercury to Apollo. What satellites were launched by the Russians and the Americans? Why did the Americans win? What did they achieve?

(11) The Space Shuttle Programme (Dr. Michael Calderbank)

The story of the space shuttle from conception through design to operation. What shuttles were built and what did they achieve? Why did accidents occur? Was the shuttle a success or failure?

(12) A Trip to Mars (Dr. Michael Calderbank)

This talk describes the journey to Mars, the landing, how to live on Mars, terraforming Mars and the return journey.

(13) Apollo 13 - the Unlucky Mission? (Dr. Michael Calderbank)

This talk describes what went wrong with Apollo 13, the rescue plan, problems encountered and the outcome. t

It also comments on the film "Apollo 13".

(14) Bomber Jack

The personal story of the life of a World War II Bomber Pilot based on a book of the same name. Jack completed 71 operations flying the Douglas Boston light bomber in Italy with 18 Squadron. The story is told in his own words and illustrated with many photographs some from Jack's own wartime album. This talk is particularly relevant to cruises around North Africa, Sicily and Italy