The Parker Solar Probe- To touch the face of the Sun.

Guest Speaker

Thursday, 23rd September 2021 (19:45 - 22:00)

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Launched on 12th August 2018, this adventurous probe will complete many firsts during the next seven years. It will become the fastest man-made object at around 432,000 miles per hour, it will fly closer to the sun than any other object, passing less than four million miles from the surface and it will be the first to physically encounter the sun's corona. Survival depends on brilliant engineering and a highly elliptical orbit. This talk will explore the basics of the mission and set the scene for what we can hope to learn. Get the essential background before the science starts to flow!

Speaker: Keith Townsend


I have been a keen astronomer for most of my life and have owned and used telescopes for more than 20 years. In the early 2000s I developed a passion for astronomical imaging and put substantial effort and resources into a sophisticated set-up that took several years to complete. Some of the results can be seen on the images page to the left. Growing frustrated at increasing light pollution in my area, I disposed of the entire set-up. However, when astronomy is in your blood, resistance is futile and after only a couple of years, the fever took hold again. Several different set-ups have been and gone, but I now have an amazing Altair Astro 102mm ED Triplet refractor mounted on an iOptron iEQ45 Pro mount. This is a self contained imaging 'rig' with camera rotator, filter drawer, reducer/flattener and Altair Astro Hypercam 269c Protec camera. Everything is controlled through a mini pc while I sit in the warm. Astro software is incredible these days and many aspects of the hobby can now be automated. I also have a double stacked pressure tuned Lunt LS50 hydrogen alpha solar telescope for observing and imaging the Sun in the Ha wavelength; again, some of my images are on display in the images section. This way I can continue with the hobby on the warm sunny days


I joined Peterborough Astronomical Society in 2009 and became Treasurer from 2011 until 2020. In 2012 PAS co-hosted a 'Star Gazing Live' event with the BBC and needed volunteer speakers. I presented a talk about Curiosity, the Martian Rover and thoroughly enjoyed the research which that entailed. I am really keen to promote interest in astronomical science to the general public and so the decision to offer talks on a wider basis was entirely logical. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2016 and joined the British Astronomical Association in 2017.


My presentations have been delivered to a wide range of Astronomical Societies, U3A meetings, science groups, branches of the WI, public outreach events and local societies. The talks can be tailored to suit varying levels of interest and involve stunning images, videos, animations and digestible facts that are delivered with humour and enthusiasm. I add to the list periodically, so please check back from time to time to see what is currently available. You can email me via the contact page for more details, charges and availability.

Mexborough & Swinton Astronomical Society is a Registered Charity in England & Wales, Registered Charity No 1064103.

Registered Address: 147 Queen Street, Swinton, Mexborough, South Yorkshire, S64 8NG

Affiliated to the Federation of Astronomical Societies.

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