Essential Information

Type Talks and tours
National Maritime Museum
Date and Times Monday 11 December 2023 | Doors at 6.30pm, event starts at 7.15pm
Prices Free | Flamsteed Astronomy Society Members only

We live in a universe perfectly suited to our existence, containing galaxies, stars, planets and the building blocks of life. On Earth, life is found in rocks, ice and boiling water, suggesting it would be impossible to destroy, before the Sun becomes a red giant and evaporates our planet. Yet space is silent, suggesting that though simple life may be common, technologically advanced life might be very rare.

Dr Robin Catchpole will present the evidence, then take a closer look at the development of life on Earth, before considering why we might be the only self-aware observers of our universe.

About the speaker

Currently, Robin is at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, after retiring as Senior Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in 2003. After graduating from University College London in 1966, he was posted to South Africa, where he spent the next 24 years working as an astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory.

In 1991 he returned to The Royal Greenwich Observatory at Cambridge, and in 1998 moved to Greenwich as Senior Astronomer.

Robin has authored and co-authored over 120 research papers using a number of telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope. His research interests include the composition of stars, exploding stars, the structure of our galaxy and galaxies with black holes at their centres.

He has given numerous popular lectures and radio and TV interviews, as well as summer school courses and talks on cruise ships and safaris.

Robin originated the design of the 33-ton bronze truncated cone at the new Astronomy Centre in Greenwich, completed and opened by the Queen in 2007.

Banner credit: Close Encounters of the Haslingden Kind © Katie McGuinness, Highly commended in the People and Space category of Astronomy Photographer of Year 2023.

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