Speaker Meeting 13th November 2017

Ken Bird - The Astronomical Universe

The members of the Rotary Club of Church Wilne welcomed Ken Bird to its speaker meeting at the Royal Oak, Ockbrook on Monday 13th November when he spoke about the Astronomical Universe.

Ken said he would try to cover the whole universe in 30 minutes and said our Galaxy, "The Milky Way", contains around 100,000 million stars like our Sun.

Today the populations on Earth is around 7 Billion and 70% of the Earth is covered by water.

Various photographs were shown of the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon nearly 50 years ago and since July 1969 just 24 people have seen earth from the moon, with only 12 walking on the Moon, and no one in the last 45 years.

The original iconic photograph from the moon landings programme.

The Earth taken more recently

Ken spoke about the Universe and said our Sun, which is a small star and is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma with about three quarters of its mass consisting of hydrogen and the rest is mostly helium. Various photographs were shown of the solar eclipse and how the sizes and distances of the Moon and Earth relate to the Sun's for the eclipses.

The planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 but has since been downgraded to dwarf planet. The New Horizon spacecraft, which was launched in 2006, flew by Pluto in July 2015 and took a series of images and other measurements and various photographs were shown.

Currently there are a fleet of robotic spacecraft and rovers on Mars paving the way for future human explorers. It takes 15 minutes each way for commands to the craft which move something like 2 metres a minutes. Therefore back on Earth the travel commands are of utmost importance as they need to avoid large rocks and the edge of cliffs.

Mars rovers with one of the technicians (not actually on Mars)

The life of our Universe is about 13 Billion years so far and if we look at it as a calendar year and go to the last minute of the year, we have been around since 10 seconds to midnight on 31st December.

The members heard about the Hubble Space Telescope, which was named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble. Also the nearest Galaxy to us being the Andromeda which is 2.5 million light years from Earth.

To put things into prospective, there are more stars in the Universe than grains of sand on Earth.

The Club's vote of thanks was given by David Biggs who said "it is the third time I have heard your talk and I still find it fascinating, it's full of information and I keep learning something new".

For more information on Rotary, our speaker evenings, events and the main activities organised by our club please contact our Secretary, Mick White at: rccw1220@gmail.com

Ray Terry
For the Rotary Club of Church Wilne

30th October 2017


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