SPA and Cardiff host day of astronomy

The Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) and Cardiff Astronomical Society (CAS) have been spreading the stargazing bug at a recent co-hosted event. Katrin Raynor-Evans, librarian at Cardiff Astro, reports back on the day's activities.

Published: October 8, 2018 at 12:00 pm
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Robin Scagell, President of the Society for Popular Astronomy and astrophysicist Dr Megan Argo take the stage at an event co-hosted with Cardiff Astronomical Society. Image Credit: Katrin Raynor-Evans


The Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) held a special meeting in conjunction with the Cardiff Astronomical Society (CAS) on 29 September.

The meeting was held at the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University and its aim was to bring the two societies together, meet members old and new, promote each society's activities and enjoy an afternoon of talks.

The Society for Popular Astronomy has been in existence for over 60 years and has around 1,500 members.

Its main purpose is to encourage an interest in astronomy and help beginners of all ages to get a step on the ladder of this amazing subject.

They offer meetings, events and courses, and every member gets a copy of their bi-monthly magazine Popular Astronomy.

Doors opened to the public at 12:30 and there was a chance for enthusiasts to meet members of both societies beforehand.

Robin Scagell, President of the SPA and Osnat Katz, the new editor of Popular Astronomy, were on-hand to answer questions and to offer a variety of interesting and exciting astronomy merchandise.

There were leaflets and free copies of Popular Astronomy, which delighted many people.

A display board had been set up by Cardiff Astronomical Society, providing information about the Society and showcasing prints of astrophotography by their members and informative posters on stars and planets.

There were planetariums and almanacs and some interesting books for people to peruse.

A fantastic visual display had been set up, presenting video footage from the UKMON (United Kingdom Meteor Observation Network) camera that CAS has at its observatory in Dyffryn Gardens on the outskirts of Cardiff.

Members of SPA and CAS welcome visitors to the event. Credit: Katrin Raynor-Evans
Members of SPA and CAS welcome visitors to the event.
Credit: Katrin Raynor-Evans

A brief introduction to the day’s talks was given by Robin Scagell and Phillip Wallace, chairman of Cardiff Astronomical Society, before the first speaker of the day, Professor Ian Robson from the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, took to the stage to talk about ‘The Changing Scene of Astronomy’.

This was a fascinating talk with some incredible photos showing how telescopes have developed throughout the ages, how their discoveries have given us our knowledge of the Universe as we know it today and what changes and challenges face astronomers in the future: especially the incredible amount of data that can now be sourced daily from imagery taken by space telescopes.

Following on from Professor Robson, Phillip Wallace provided an informative talk on ‘The Birth and Death of Stars’.

His presentation took the audience through the stages of star formation, how stars develop through their life depending on their mass and what will happen once stars have used up all their fuel, which led him on to describe the end of our Universe, a solemn topic for some!

The final talk of the day was given by Dr Megan Argo from the University of Central Lancashire.

Her lecture ‘When Galaxies Collide’ was fantastically delivered and she provided some exciting and engaging photos to assist her presentation.

Dr Argo discussed the Milky Way, what happens when galaxies pass too close to each other, what happens when they collide and the consquences of galactic collision.

She also covered topics such as what galaxies are composed of, and explained how astronomers obtain high resolution images of them through a network or array of telescopes spanning the UK and worldwide.

As the day drew to a close, people looked around the stalls outside and had a chance to talk to the speakers and ask any questions about their presentations.

The CAS library was also open, giving people the chance to peruse our selection of books on offer.


It was a tremendous and successful day for both societies and we're both looking forward to a future joint meeting


Katrin Raynor Evans astronomy
Katrin Raynor EvansAstronomy writer

Katrin Raynor-Evans is an astronomy writer and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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