Talks & Courses

Lightning Course: Searching for life in the Solar System

In our many years searching, we have so far found life only on our own humble little planet. What makes life so apparently rare and how would we find it if it were out there? Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder of the Royal Observatory Greenwich takes you on a journey through our Solar System to find out!

The following questions will be discussed in this course:

Lightning Courses 2019/2020

There are a range of topics covered by these courses, from how to take photos of the night sky to life on alien worlds to understanding Einstein’s theories of relativity. The courses offer an introduction into different subjects in astronomy and no prior knowledge of astronomy is needed.

The Lightning Courses run for four hours on a Saturday and alternate every month. Upcoming course topics include:

Lightning Courses: The Search for Exoplanets

The search for exoplanets is one of the youngest fields of research in astronomy, and yet is one of the biggest and fastest growing. Robotic telescopes and probes producing vast quantities of data are throwing out new candidate exoplanets at an alarming rate, and future missions will improve on this even further. In this course, Dr Greg Brown will take you through the problems and solutions in the search for exoplanets, from the techniques used, to the wealth of information gained, all with the aim of reaching the holy grail of exoplanet research, a true Earth twin.

If the Weather Permits - Living in the Arctic


15:00 - 15:15 Arrival 

15:15 – 15:30 Claire Warrior, Senior Exhibitions Interpretation Curator, on the curation of the Polar Worlds Gallery at the National Maritime Museum

15:30 - 16:00 Screening of ‘If The Weather Permits’

16:00 - 16:45 Naulaq Le Drew, on life in the Arctic

16:45 – 17:00 Refreshments

17:00 – 18:00 Visit to the Polar Worlds Gallery


Sailor craft: maritime making in the long nineteenth century

Nineteenth-century sailors were proficient and prolific makers, who could carve, knot, sew and tattoo. These men worked with what they could find; they shopped or traded for materials and scavenged for shipboard scraps. Sailors used their craft skill for utility, for their personal enjoyment and for the benefit of others. This talk will focus on objects and accounts which give us a sense of how, why and for whom sailors crafted.

Queen Maria Carolina of Naples: adventures in portraiture

Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, while not a household name in Britain like her friends and allies Lady Emma Hamilton and Admiral Lord Nelson, was a key player in the Napoleonic period, and in the Nelsonian story. Her iconography has only recently become the subject of art historical attention. How might studying her portraits, and her relationship with portraiture of diverse kinds, cast light on the collections at Royal Museums Greenwich and its more familiar protagonists?

The demography of the Victorian Navy

The national censuses have been used to create databases of occupation, birthplace, age and marital status for all the men in almost all of the Royal Navy’s ships that were in commission in 1861, 1881 and 1901. Analyses of these databases show that the demography of the Royal Navy changed greatly, both geographically and over time, in response to Admiralty policy and variations in the social and economic conditions around the British Isles.

Ethnographic collecting and the politics of restitution on Matthew Flinders’ Australian voyages, 1798–1803

This talk discusses contested practices of collecting and restitution on-board Matthew Flinders’ early Australian voyages. Though Flinders and his crew acquired numerous Indigenous Australian objects, an array of moral and philosophical considerations soon brought about their return. Surviving records of an encounter at Fraser Island in 1802 suggest that early nineteenth-century concerns about object collecting were not, therefore, altogether dissimilar to museum debates about object repatriation occurring today. 

‘The sort of thing that appeals to scientists’: interpreting expedition photography for public exhibition

Polar expeditions of the early 1900s interlaced experimental scientific photography (multiple and flashlight exposures) with the work of professional travel photographers. Expedition ephemera – newspaper reports, posters, lantern slides, catalogues – reveal a social history of polar exploration in public exhibition.


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