Astrophysics Events

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. The academic staff welcome invitations to give talks and presentations, you can find contact details on the staff page.

Other events within the School of Physics and Astronomy can be found under “For Schools” and under “News”.

Pint of Science

This year members of the astrophysics group took part in The Pint of Science Festival 2016. Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation that aims to bring talks on the latest science research to members of the public in the comfort of a local pub.

Dr Katharine Johnston was part of the team organising the ‘Atoms to Galaxies’ theme in Leeds, including the ‘Space Weather and the Birth of the Solar System’ event held at O’Neill’s pub in Leeds featuring talks from Prof René Oudmaijer and Dr Christina Burge.


For information on next year’s festival see the Pint of Science website.

Leeds Light Night

In October of last year members of the astrophysics group where on hand to help out at Leeds Light Night 2015; for one night only Leeds city centre will come alive with spectacular large-scale light projections, exhibitions, installations, fillm, dance, music and street performances. Housed in Leeds cathedral with an impressive projection of the sun using images from NASAs Solar Dynamic Observatory, astrophysicists chatted to the public and answered quesions about star formation, astronomy and the Sun.

For information on next year’s event, see the Light Night Leeds website.

The Bolton Lecture in Astronomy

The 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.

Bolton Lectures

The 2016 Bolton Lecture in Astronomy ‘Black Holes and Spin Offs’ was given by Professor Katherine Blundell of the University of Oxford. For the talk abstract and further details click on the poster or visit the the main physics pages.


Previous Lectures

  • The 2015 lecture was given by Prof Stefanie Walch (University of Cologne) and was titled “A Turbulent Tale of Stellar Birth”. Prof Walch showed how powerful supercomputers are used to perform three-dimensional simulations to advance our understanding of the complex stellar birth process and of the most important parameters governing it. Bolton15
  • The 2014 lecture was given Prof John Plane (Chemistry, Leeds) with the title “Cosmic Dust and Comets”, focusing on the role of comets as the source of most of the cosmic dust in the solar system, and the impacts of the roughly 100 tons of this dust which enters our atmosphere each day. There was also a discussion on the breaking news of the day; as the talk was given at the same time as the Rosetta mission succesfully landed a small probe on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Bolton14
  • The 2013 lecture was from Prof Susanne Alto, the head of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Prof Alto’s talk was entitled “Into the Cold” and a full video recording was made of the lecture which can be found here.

  • The 2012 lecture was provided by Prof Michael Thompson, the Director of High Altitude and Observations in Colorado. The talk was titled “Of Suns and Other Worlds”, discussing how fragile our own existence around the Sun might be in the light of “space weather”, and what we are learning about planets elsewhere in the Galaxy and the suns around which those planets exist.

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  • 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.

  • The 2010 lecture was provided 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 2009 lecture was from 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 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”).

  • 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 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”.