Peak Star Party - PSP2014 Talks

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PSP2014 Talks

Headline Talk: "And Now The Weather ... From Space"

Dr Alan Wood, Nottingham Trent University

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The Northern Lights are one of the most stunning natural phenomena in the world.  Twisting ribbons of green and red hanging in the night sky have fascinated people for centuries, but it is only in the last hundred years that we have begun to understand them.

Today we know that the Northern Lights are just one effect of ‘Space Weather’ – other effects include power cuts, damage to satellites and disruption to GPS.  We have a wealth of scientific projects trying to better understand space weather but there are many exciting challenges too – those travelling to the high Arctic must be prepared for the extreme cold, constant darkness and polar bears!

Come and hear about the latest discoveries in this exciting adventure.

Headline Talk: "Cloudy With A Chance Of Astronomy"

John Cotterill, The Met Office

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John Cotterill has been employed by the Met Office for over 12 years, initially training to become an airfield weather Observer. He has worked at over 10 UK airfields and has gleaned a great wealth of meteorological experience from watching and reporting the weather to the aviation industry. In 2012 John qualified as an Operational Meteorologist and is proud to have a career that began life as a hobby in his back garden with his own weather station.

The presentation begins with a brief history of the Met Office and describing some of the services and weather forecasts that Met Office meteorologists provide. The Met Office is highly regarded as being the best weather and climate service provider in the world. John will outline how these weather forecasts are made and the great many challenges that exist in trying to quantify the mechanics of the atmosphere and what makes it so difficult to get it right at times.

John’s talk will conclude with some advice for any keen amateurs - from setting up your own weather station, to keeping a weather diary and how to interpret those weather charts seen every night on the T.V after the news. This talk is aimed at anyone, any age, with an interest in weather and how it affects our daily lives.

John may even share some trade secrets that will help you forecast cloud cover and increase your chances of seeing the night sky without disappointment, or to know when it might be best to stay firmly indoors!

"My Story"

Amber Hornsby

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Amber has been a regular visitor to Peak Star Party since our first year in 2011. At the time, she was an A-level student preparing for university. She caught the astronomy bug at PSP2011 and made the decision to switch courses to study Astrophysics at Cardiff University.

Amber is now half way through her combined Masters degree and will be giving a brief talk on her journey so far.

Education is hugely important to the organisers of Peak Star Party and this will be an inspirational talk for anybody considering considering a science education.

"Astronomy Basics"

Stuart Davis, Stargazers Lounge

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Stuart is a keen amateur astronomer with over 14 years' observing experience, and also moderator on the Stargazers Lounge forum ( He will be sharing this experience, giving a valuable insight into various aspects of the hobby.

The talk will start off by introducing the different types of reflector and refractor telescopes and their relative merits, including solar scopes, then introduce the concepts of focal lengths and "fast" and "slow" focal ratios and how they affect viewing and imaging.

It will move on to cover the different types of eye-pieces, how they impact on magnification and why "field of view" and "eye relief" are important considerations for viewing different types of objects.

This talk will be mainly aimed at beginners and will be very interactive with illustrations where relevant, as well as using a range of telescopes for practical demonstrations.

"Peak District Dark Skies"

Dr Dan Brown, PDDS

Image of Dan Brown next to NTU's 14 

Dan Brown is one of the founding members of Peak District Dark Skies, promoting awareness of light pollution within the Peak District National Park.

Dan will be talking about the history of astronomy in the region, along with PDDS' fight against light pollution and activities the organisation runs with the community.

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