Guest Speakers Past, Present and Future

General Information

Here are photographs (where available) and a short description of the Guest Speakers that we have been fortunate to have give presentations at the monthly meetings of the CDAA.

Nik Szymanek

Nik Szymanek is widely acknowledged for his deep-sky astro-imaging, as well as his image processing abilities. His images are frequently published in the leading astronomy magazines and publications. He also wrote the publication "Infinity Rising" filled with many of his images as his personal view of the Universe. Although based in Essex, he regularly travels to remote locations to take advantage of some of the world's best observing sites. From these sites he has produced some of the best CCD images and widefield night sky photographs you will see.

Script taken from the NEAS website and modified by David Pugh


  • Presentations

    • 5th May 2005 'Astro-Imaging from Mauna Kea Hawaii'.
    • 6th September 2007 'Photographing the Night Sky'.
    • 6th May 2010 'New Adventures in Astro Imaging'.
    • 1st March 2012 'Celestial Imaging'
    • 7th November 2013 'Celestial Imaging'
    • 5th November 2015 Robotic Imaging
    • 5th April 2018 'A Tale of Two Observatories'
    • 3rd January 2019 'A Special Presentation to mark CDAA's 50th Anniversary'

Dr. Jonathan Shanklin

Dr. Jonathan Shanklin was born in Wrexham, North Wales and educated at King's School, Chester and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He has been employed by the British Antarctic Survey since 1977 and works in the Meteorological and Ozone Monitoring Unit. In the early 1980s he discovered what is now known as the Antarctic ozone hole. This discovery was published in Nature in 1985. He has made 14 trips to the Antarctic, visiting all the British bases and is responsible for running the operational side of the BAS meteorological observing program. This work includes purchasing, testing and installing new equipment, writing computer software, recruiting Antarctic scientists, training staff, analysing data, solving problems, writing papers and giving public lectures.

He received a Blue Peter Badge for the ozone hole discovery. Recent awards include the Society of Chemical Industry Environment Medal and the Institute of Physics Charles Chree Medal and Prize.

Script taken and modified from his own website

  • Presentations

    • 1st September 2005 An Astronomer in Antarctica.

Dr. Lisa Wright

Dr. Lisa Wright is a researcher and the educational outreach officer at the Cavendish Laboratory , (physics department) part of Cambridge University. For research she uses computer simulations to study the formation and evolution of galaxies, like the Milky Way.

She is a lecturer of 1st year Maths for Natural Scientists at the University of Cambridge and a lecturer and course director for the Institute of Continuing Education, Cambridge University and also a supervisor and teaching associate in mathematics for Queen's College, Cambridge and the outreach officer for the East Anglian branch of the Institute of Physics.

As part of her science communication work she enjoys giving public lectures and media interviews about her work and general astronomy.

Script taken and modified from her own website

  • Presentations

    • 5th January 2006 The Milky Way Outside/In

Professor Nial Tanvir

Professor Nial Tanvir of the University of Leicester is a professional astronomer and has been at the fore-front of astronomy for over a decade. Perhaps most significant is his research in and around Gamma ray bursts. In 2002 he was a member of the research group which won the prestigous Descartes Prize. More recently ProfessorTanvir headed the UK team studying gamma-ray bursts, which investigated the infrared afterglow of 090423 (detected 2009 April 23), the most distant event recorded to date. He has featured in the respected The Sky at Night TV series hosted by Sir Patrick Moore.

Professor Nial Tanvir obtained his PhD from the University of Durham in 1992 where he worked on the extragalactic distance scale. He went on to a postdoc at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, and then to a faculty position at the University of Hertfordshire.

He has since been appointed to the Chair of Observational Astronomy at the University of Leicester. In addition to gamma-ray bursts, his research interests include the structure and dynamics of nearby and distant galaxies.

Script taken from 'Wikipedia'

  • Presentations

    • 1st June 2006 Mass and Mystery in M31.

Peter Meadows

Script yet to be added.

  • Presentations

    • 7th June 2007 Solar Observing.
    • 6th June 2013 Solar Observing
    • 5th March 2015 Imaging Meteors

Jerry Workman

Jerry Workman specialises in giving a wide variety of lectures on the geology and objects of the Solar System. He is widely known in astronomical circles, giving lectures to many astronomical societies, and won the Eric Zucker Award from the FAS at its 2009 AGM for his work in the astronomical community.

Jerry is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, trained as a chemist, works at Hammersmith in Central London, and is currently chairman of Loughton AS.

Script written by David Pugh

  • Presentations

    • 1st May 2008 The Cassini Mission.
    • 5th November 2009 The Huygen's Mission to Titan.
    • 2nd September 2010 The Eclipses of 2008 and 2009.
    • 5th May 2011 The South Pacific Eclipse.
    • 1st September 2011 The Mars Rovers.
    • 5th July 2012 Mars Express
    • 4th July 2013 Mars Revisited
    • 3th July 2014 The Galileo Mission to Jupiter
    • 2nd July 2015 The Curiosity Rover
    • 7th July 2016 Small Bodies of the Solar System
  • His next presentation for us will be:

    • 5th July 2018 Hubble Space Telescope Planetary Images

Professor Carolin Crawford

Professor Carolin Crawford is an observer working with X-ray, optical and near-infrared data, primarily on: the properties and immediate environment of massive central cluster galaxies and powerful radio sources at intermediate redshift.

She enjoys communicating the excitement of Astronomy to a wide audience and can sometimes be heard on BBC Radio 4, where she is a regular panellist on the environmental programme Home Planet.

Script taken and modified from her own website

  • Presentations

    • 5th June 2008 The Latest from the Hubble Space Telescope.
    • 3rd May 2012 Exoplanets and how to find them.
    • 3rd April 2014 Comets, Asteroids and Meteors.
    • 5th May 2016 Black Holes for Beginners
  • Her next presentation for us will be:

    • 4th June 2020 The Beauty and Science of Nebulae

Tom Boles

Tom Boles comes originally from Glasgow where he spent many happy years as a telescope designer and maker for Charles Frank Ltd., Saltmarket, Glasgow, from whom many amateurs in the UK, including me, acquired their first telescopes.

Today, he is a retired computer and telecom support engineer having held director level positions with several multinational equipment marketing and support companies.

He is a past President and current Vice President of The British Astronomical Association, a Fellow of The Royal Astronomical Society a member of Commission 28 of the IAU. I am also a member of The Webb Society and The Astronomer.

The IAU named asteroid (7648) Tomboles=1989 TB1 in recognition of his contribution to astronomy. The BAA awarded me the Merlin Medal in 2008 for a notable contribution to the advancement of astronomy.

His devouring passion is extra-galactic supernovae: their physics, appearance, demographics and, of course, their discovery. He patrols on every available clear night and monitors some 12,000 galaxies for supernovae.

Script taken and modified from his own website

  • Presentations

    • 5th February 2009 Discovering Supernovae: Methods, Motivation and Rewards.

Dr. Lawrence Newell

Dr. Laurence Newell, an amateur radio astronomer from Martlesham in Suffolk

  • Presentations

    • 2nd April 2009 Radio Astronomy.

Mark Hurn

Mark was born in Middlesex in 1963 and was brought up in Wales, Worcester and Leighton Buzzard. He obtained his BA (Hons) in philosophy and literature at Essex University in 1985 and his MA in Information Studies in 1993 at the University of North London. He was employed as a Technical Librarian at the BSI where he worked from 1989-2001. Mark is now Departmental Librarian at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge.

In 1994 Mark joined Milton Keynes Astronomical Society (MKAS) where he has been active both on the committee and in giving talks.Mark at work (but where's his tie?) At different times he has held the positions of Librarian, Secretary and Vice Chairman. Talks he has given include "The story of star names", "The Zodiac", "Radio astronomy" and "The history of the Almagest".

Script taken from his own website

  • Presentations

    • 5th April 2012 The Story of Star Names.
    • 5th June 2014 Astronomers in Obscurity.
    • 2nd June 2016 Sir Arthur Eddington: Man, Myth and Mystic

Stina Ojala

Stina Ojala from Finland, was our first ever International Guest Speaker. She is a keen amateur astronomer with a PhD in Computer Science, Lic. Phil. in Speech Science and MA in Linguistics.

Script written by Bob Leon

  • Presentations

    • 7th March 2013 'Observatories in South-West Finland'.

Andy Green

Andy Green is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and of the British Interplanetary Society. He is Director and Senior Lecturer of Star Dome, an astronomy and spaceflight lecturer, and freelance space journalist travelling around the world but especially to the USA and Australia. Apollo astronaut Charlie Duke is counted among Andy’s friends.

Script written by David Pugh

  • Presentations

    • 5th September 2013 'Impacts'.
    • 3rd September 2015 'Aurorae'

Dr Mike Leggett (and Mrs Legget with two well travelled 'Astro-mice').

Dr Mike LeggettA Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, Dr Mike Leggett is also a member of the British Astronomical Association, the Planetary Society and the Society for the History of Astronomy (SHA). As a participant in the SHA Survey of the Astronomical History of the UK, he is currently the coordinator for Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland.

Mrs Leggett

As a founder member of the South Lincolnshire Astronomical and Geophysical Society in 1976, he began to present astronomy talks for his local society. Since that time he has presented lectures for the British Interplanetary Society, at University of Aberdeen evening classes, for the Society for the History of Astronomy and to astronomical societies and other groups throughout the UK. He is currently Publicity Off icer for the Milton Keynes Astronomical Society, for whom he has also served as Chairman and Secretary. He is also a Council Member and Publicity Officer for the Society for the History of Astronomy (SHA) and county co- ordinator for Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Rutland in the SHA survey of astronomical history of the UK.

A Graduate in Chemistry and Pharmacology from the University of Nottingham, Dr Leggett also holds a PhD in Chemistry. A Chartered Chemist and a Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, he is a member of the Astrophysical Chemistry Group. He also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Technical Authorship and Communication and is Member of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators.

Script taken from his website

  • Presentations

    • 6th April 2017 'The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence'.
  • His next presentation for us will be:

    • 1st September 2022 Pluto and the Outer Solar System

Greg Smye-Rumsby

Greg Smye-Rumsby is an astronomical artist and freelance lecturer with a particular interest in planets.

Script written by David Pugh

  • Presentations

    • 4th April 2019 'Uranus - A Story of Planetary Catastrophe'.

Dr Mathew Bothwell

Dr Mathew Bothwell is an astronomer and science communicator based at the Institute of Astronomy and the Kavli Institute for Cosmology, Cambridge. He recieved his PhD from the University of Cambridge, working with Prof. Rob Kennicutt and Dr. Scott Chapman. Before taking up science communication, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, and the Astrophysics group at the University of Cambridge.

Script taken from his personal webpage

  • Presentations

    • 3rd March 2022 'Strange New Worlds: Searching for Earth 2.0.'