Astronomical News

Gravitational Wave Astronomy

posted 5 Feb 2015, 01:00 by Philip Green

Chris Berry
At our February 2015 meeting, Dr Christopher Berry from the School of Physics of Birmingham University tried to explain gravity waves to our members - what they are; how they are produced; and how to detect them!
Although produced by any accelerating mass (ie bodies in orbit around another mass) as a direct prediction from Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, it needs objects to be as massive as binary neutron stars or binary black holes to generate gravity waves big enough that stand a chance of being detected. Even then, the changes/distortions caused by the gravity waves are infinitesimal - requiring detectors that would be able to measure the difference of something as far away as Alpha Centuri by the width of a human hair!!
And in 2015, various ground based detectors of this sensitivity, like 'Advanced LIGO' will be coming on-line. up to 4km long, perpendicular laser beams, sighted across the world, able to measure the tiny changes in the stretching of space/time caused by these gravitational waves! Amazing!!

The Evolution of Galaxies - Dr Richard Beare

posted 2 Dec 2014, 03:03 by Philip Green

At our December 14 meeting we achieved our first 'virtual' presentation - linking to Dr Richard Beare (an ex-KAS member) in Melbourne, Australia via Skype! 

All the technology worked (well the important bits!!) and we could watch and listen to Richard on one screen while displaying the presentation about his research thesis on another!  Richard's in-depth knowledge of the latest theories was evident from the detailed analysis he has undertaken during his Research Fellowship at Monash University and his presentation conveyed the reasoning beautifully. Trying to work out how galaxies have evolved over the past 8 billion years from 'snap-shots' of what we can currently see in the night sky seems truly amazing!

Richard's full thesis can be found at:

At the end of the meeting Richard was made an honorary, lifetime member of the Knowle Astronomical Society - another first!

Public Stargazing Event now just at Dorridge Village Hall

posted 13 Oct 2014, 02:53 by KAS Committee   [ updated 14 Oct 2014, 01:38 ]

Due to the poor weather forecast (100% cloud cover!!), we have had to cancel the stargazing part of this evenings event, but a presentation 'An Introduction to the Night Sky' will still be given in Dorridge Village Hall at around 8pm.

We will also have displays, handouts and telescopes set up in the hall to help get you interested in all aspects of viewing the heavens.

   Display boards & handouts    Intro to Astronomy presentation     Members scopes

Public Star-gazing Event: 13th Oct., Dorridge Park

posted 12 Sep 2014, 02:21 by Philip Green

Neutron Stars

posted 12 Sep 2014, 02:16 by Philip Green

On 1st Sept. Prof. Paul Roche of the University of South Wales gave us a fasinating, flawlessly delivered presentation about Neutron Stars - bizarre stellar objects, with twice the mass of our Sun but crushed down to a ball about 15km in diameter and spinning at up to 700 times a second!!

Committee Vacancies: Treasure & Membership Secretary

posted 8 Jul 2014, 07:37 by KAS Committee

After 14 years of sterling service, Nigel Foster has decided to stand down from the Committee, which means we currently have no Treasurer or Membership Secretary!

Nigel will still be around to help his replacements get up to speed, and by splitting the roles we hope they shouldn't be too onerous on any individual! 
Nominations to join the Committee in either of these roles would be most welcome! Please consider helping us run the Society - many hands make light work!!

Please speak to the Chairman or email if you are prepared to help.

E-ELT - Dr Frazer Clarke

posted 8 Apr 2014, 06:21 by KAS Committee

Our April 2014 meeting saw Dr Frazer Clarke (University of Oxford, Physics Dept) talking about Big Telescopes: Why Size Has Always Mattered  - in particular, the European Extremely Large Telescope.

Astrophysics is fundamentally an observation driven science, where each new technological step allowing us to see further, fainter and in finer detail has answered numerous questions, and posed innumerably more. Building bigger and bigger telescopes has therefore been central to our understanding of the Universe for over 400 years. In this talk, Dr Clarke will review the history of large telescopes through ages, including the key technologies behind them from silvered glass to adaptive optics. He will explain how this has led us to the cusp of a new era of "Extremely Large" telescopes, and in particular look at the largest of these; the 39 meter European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), in which the UK is playing a central role. With its combination of huge light collecting area and advanced instrumentation, it will take images 15x sharper than the Hubble space telescope, characterise the atmospheres of planets around other stars, and be sensitive enough to study galaxies at the very edge of the visible Universe. Who knows what new questions it will raise!

May 2013 - John Talbot

posted 26 May 2013, 12:02 by Andy Smith   [ updated 3 Sep 2013, 20:50 by Philip Green ]

February 2013 - Dr Paul Abel

posted 19 Feb 2013, 10:38 by Andy Smith

Paul Abel & Mark Wright

DR Paul Abel of Leicester University & 'Sky at Night' fame gave a talk about Planetary Astronomy. The turnout was excellent and the talk enjoyed by all. Paul fielded numerous questions at the end and has inspired many of us to go out and record our own observations of the planets in our solar system.

Paul also stayed on afterwards to do a bit of planetary observation but unfortunately the conditions outside where not suitable.

Dr Paul Abel & KAS Chairman Mark Wright after the talk

Chairman's Astro-Photography Competition

posted 3 Dec 2012, 15:43 by Philip Green   [ updated 5 Jun 2014, 14:26 ]

 Our Chairman Mark Wright, is offering prizes for the best astronomical photograph in two categories: beginner and expert.
 Members should submit their entries by email to ''. Photographs can be of anything associated with the night sky and don't necessarily have to be taken through telescopes. Get you camera phones, compact cameras, DSLR's and webcams out and have a go.

 The last date for entries is 30th June 2014 and the winners will be presented with their prizes at our AGM on 7th July 2014.

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