The Astrophysics Group has an active events program, which includes the annual Bolton lecture (which is free and open to the general public), talks to schools and local astronomical socities, alumni days, university open days, and activities during science week. Further details can be found below.
The Bolton LectureThe Bolton Lecture is held every autumn and is widely advertised in local schools. We aim to bring current developments in Astronomy and Particle Physics to a wide audience and to high schools in particular. The lecture series is named after Scriven Bolton (c1888-1929) a local benefactor whose bequest enables the University to provide a state-of-the-art observatory for the teaching of practical astronomy to undergraduates. This year's lecture takes place on Thursday 29th November between 5:30 pm and 6:30pm in the Conference Auditorium at the University of Leeds. It will be given by Prof Michael Thompson, the Director of the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colorado, and is titled "Of Suns and Other Worlds". Full details of this year's Bolton Lecture can be found on the main physics pages
The inaugral lecture was given by David Williams in 1999, and speakers since then have included Leo Blitz (2000) and Trevor Weekes (2001). A lecture on "Solar System Formation" was given in October 2002 by Prof. Greg Morfill from the Max-Planck-Institut fuer extraterrestrische Physik in Garching. Prof. Jasper Kirkby from CERN, Geneva, gave the 2003 lecture titled "A Brief History of Cosmic Rays and Climate Change".
NASA astronaut and Leeds alumnus Dr. Piers Sellers lectured on "Leaving the Planet" in 2004. Dr. Sellers gave an account of his visit to the International Space Station, and showed his personal "home video" which included a tour of the inside of the Station and views of spacewalkers as they worked outside. NASA's plans for future solar exploration were also covered.
The 2008 lecture was given by our very own Prof. Alan Watson FRS, Spokesperson Emeritus for the Pierre Auger Collaboration, a group of more than 250 scientists from 17 countries. The multi-million dollar Pierre Auger Observatory received global news coverage in November 2007 following publication of its initial results in Science magazine "Correlation of the Highest-Energy Cosmic Rays with Nearby Extragalactic Objects" (or as Metro newspaper reported "black holes burp").
The 2009 lecture was given by Dr. Terence Kee (Chemistry, University of Leeds), and was titled "Interstellar Trash and Treasure: Meteorites and the Origin of Life". The question of how life on Earth begun was explored, with a focus on the role that complex organic molecules in space may have had.
The 2010 lecture was given by Prof Michelle Dougherty from Imperial College London, and was titled "The Cassini-Huygens mission at Saturn and Titan and future outer planetary missions".
The 2011 lecture was given by Prof Tom Ray (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies) and was titled "The First 3 Million Years" - Prof Ray discussed how stars and planets come into being.
Prof. Paola Caselli Inaugural Lecture
Prof. Paola Caselli delivered her inagural lecture on Monday 10th November 2008, at 5pm in the Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, in the Michael Sadler Building. The lecture was titled "The Chemical Heritage of Star and Planet Formation".
A symbiotic relationship exists between the chemistry occurring in interstellar gas and its evolution to form stars and planets. The chemistry produces coolants, which enable gravitationally induced collapse, and also establishes the ionisation balance, which governs how the magnetic field regulates the collapse. The physical evolution changes the chemical composition. Astrophysicists observe molecules to track star and planet formation. The detected molecules include water and numerous organic species, which become incorporated into comets, meteors, and planets. Some meteorites even contain amino acids of probable interstellar origin. The chemistry of star and planet formation created initial conditions on Earth that triggered the emergence of life!