June 16, 2016, by Lindsay Brooke

Reach for the stars – 500 astronomers meet in Nottingham and the public can join in

The Royal Astronomical annual National Astronomy Meeting – NAM – comes to Nottingham for one week at the end of June.  Julian Onions, part time PhD student at The University of Nottingham, is studying galactic computer simulation and is one of the organisors of the event. In this blog he peers into future to tell us what’s coming up at NAM 2016.

Every year, most of the professional astronomers in the UK get together to discuss the latest developments in astronomy. The range of topics is extensive, from the Sun, stars, planets, exoplanets, black holes, why the universe is the way it is, galaxies, colliding galaxies, dark matter, dark energy, gravity waves, astrochemistry, astro-archeology, education,… the list goes on!

The conference venue changes every year. This year it will take place at The University of Nottingham on the Jubilee Campus. For one week, there will be over 500 astronomers discussing all that is new and cutting edge, most of it in conference sessions, but quite a bit over coffee, and doubtless in the evenings over beers and wines, as new ideas are kicked around.

In between the sessions we have plenary talks and we kick off with our own Prof Ed Copeland, who will be reviewing modern cosmology. Other talks look at computer simulations and how galaxies evolve. There will be an update on the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) – an absolute MONSTER of a telescope, with a mirror 39 METRES across! There will also be summaries on missions to the planets, how progress on detecting planets around other stars, and what we know about our own Sun.


However, it isn’t all complex maths and graphs, there are also some events for the public to enjoy.

Life is Astronomical

On Monday 27th June at 7:30 in B52 lecture theatre in the Business School South, Marek Kukula, the Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich will be giving a public talk entitled: ‘Life is Astronomical’. He will touch on all the ways astronomy influences our daily lives.

Amateur night

On Wednesday 29th June at 7:30 in the same location – it’s amateur night. It’s a well established principle that most professional astronomers can identify the Plough at a push, and Orion with a following wind. So here there will be a chance for the amateur community, which contributes so much to the field, to show professionals how it is really done. A series of talks from backyard astrophotography, aligning telescopes, and even doing science with variable stars will be on show.

Schools day

On the Thursday we will be hosting GCSE and A-Level students to a day of talks and demonstrations. It’s not every day you get some of the top astronomers all in the same place, so some talks by leaders in their fields will hopefully inspire the next generation.

NAM runs from Monday 27 June to Friday 1 July.

If some of the events sound interesting – find out more by going to the NAM website.


Posted in Physics and AstronomyScienceStaffStudents