Think Space lectures

Essential information

Royal Observatory, Peter Harrison Planetarium
Session times: 
Time: 5.15–6.15pm
Session price: 

Join us for a rare opportunity to hear astrophysicists talk about the latest research in the fields of astronomy, physics, planetary geology and space exploration.

Students are invited to attend a telescope session after the lecture, during which they can ask all of their astronomy-related questions and practise their stargazing skills.

Where do these lectures take place?

Lectures take place on selected Tuesday evenings in the Peter Harrison Planetarium at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from 17:15 – 18:15. The telescope session starts after the lecture and ends at 18:50 (weather permitting).

When do these lectures take place?

We are busy working on our dates for the 2018/19 academic year at the moment and will be releasing them soon.  They will run between October 2018 and March 2019.

How do I book?

We offer a limited number of free tickets for school age visitors aged 13 and over. To book your free tickets for schools, please sign up to the mailing list here and we will contact you when tickets are released.

I missed a lecture, do you record them so I can watch it back?

We don't record the lecture live but we do record a special podcast with each speaker. Listen to previous Think Space speakers talk about their career background and research in our Career Choices podcasts on SoundCloud here.

Think Space Mailing List

Keep up to date by joining our mailing list.

Finally take a look at some of our past lecutres from the Think Space Lecture Series.

Our Dynamic Sun

Dr Helen Mason

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
The Sun, our star, is approaching a quiet phase in its activity cycle. Several solar space observatories have been watching the Sun over the past couple of decades: SoHO, Stereo, Hinode and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Join Dr Helen Mason as she reviews what we have learnt about our dynamic Sun, in particular what we know about sunspots, solar active regions, flares and Coronal Mass Ejections, and how the Sun affects the Earth's environment (space weather). The talk will also look towards future solar missions, ESA's Solar Orbiter and NASA's Parker's Solar Probe.

Cloudy with a chance of stars

Nimisha Kumari, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge

Image of the Orion Nebula
Orion Nebula, credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI.

The question of how stars form has intrigued humankind for centuries. While stars are formed inside galaxies, not all galaxies are forming stars, with bluer spiral and compact dwarf galaxies forming the bulk of new stars today. Join Nimisha Kumari from the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge as she discusses what stars are made from, how they form, and why they form where they do! Find out how astronomers across the world are using telescopes on the ground and in space to understand this mysterious but vital process in our Universe!

Galaxy Evolution: black hole growth and star formation

Joanna Ramasawmy, PhD researcher at the University of Hertfordshire

Image of galaxy

Galaxies – the collections of stars, gas and dust that are visible out to the very distant Universe – come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But what makes them form the way they do and how do they change over time? And how can we study them when galaxy evolution lasts for billions of years? Join Joanna Ramasawmy, a PhD researcher at the University of Hertfordshire as she discusses how astronomers have attempted to study the complex processes that drive galaxy formation and evolution. Find out about how stars are formed, or are prevented from forming, and discover just how much of it may be down to one of the most mysterious objects in the Universe – a supermassive black hole.

Stars: from dusty births to explosive deaths.

Prof Raman Prinja, astrophysicist at University College London

Image of Crab Nebula (supernova remnant)

Our understanding of the evolution of stars represents one of the great scientific breakthroughs of the past 100 years, bridged by the work of several Nobel laureates.  Raman Prinja, Professor of Astrophysics at University College London, will present an overview of our modern understanding of stellar evolution, from the dusty birth of stars, and their nuclear-burning lives, to ultimate demise including supernova detonations, and the bizarre end-states.  The journey will also highlight the importance of outflows, the dispersal of life-giving chemical elements, and links to the recent detections of gravitational waves.

The talk will be illustrated with the latest superb imagery from powerful telescopes in space and on the ground.

Think Universe!: The relevance of science in modern culture.

Dr Francisco Diego, astrophysicist and senior research fellow at University College London

Image of Evolution of the Universe

This lecture starts with a review of the most imaginative myths of creation, some of which still dominate part of our culture. Then we explore the discoveries of modern science about the true nature of the Universe, from its simple and still mysterious origin, to the complexity and diversity around us today. We follow the cosmic time line from its very beginning to the development of planet Earth and its living environment.

Science deciphers Nature's powerful messages about a single human family that emerged and migrated from central Africa to populate the entire planet in only a few thousand years. Nature brings alive the wisdom of our ancestors, searching for new ways of living, in harmony with each other and preserving the fragile paradise that has always been our home.

When stars grow up: How do rocky, habitable planets form?

Emily Drabek-Maunder, astrophysicist at Cardiff University

Image of planet in Kepler-20 star system

When we look up at the night sky, there is something vital to human nature that wants to know if we are not alone in the Universe.  Recent research in astronomy has continued to stoke our curiosities, where thousands of exoplanets have now been observed with telescopes.  Even though these exoplanets seem common, one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy is how rocky exoplanets form in the first place.  In this talk, we’ll hear how small but mighty dust grains in space come together to form rocky (and habitable) planets and how UK-based telescopes are being used to watch these planets as they form.