A Space Fugitive or a case of Astrophobia

Society Meeting

Thursday, 2nd December 2021 (19:45 - 22:00)

Venue: Virtual Meeting

A Space Fugitive or a case of Astrophobia

How it took me almost 70 years to aim my cameras up at the sky and beyond. A brief history of my photography and associated interests and the many near misses I had engaging with the universe.

Warning this talk may contain clouds ... and does

Speaker: John Leach

After leaving South Grove Secondary  Modern School in June 1968 I started work as a Research Chemist with the United Coke and Chemicals at Orgreave. The company later became part of the British Steel Corporation group and was  known as BSC Chemicals Division.

During my time there I worked in a variety of subject areas including:

Paint Research

The formulation of industrial type paints and emulsions using coal tar by-products

Biological Effluent treatment

creating laboratory simulation models of a biological treatment plant

Specialised Polyester products

A special polyester resin used to make "Sight glasses" for use in high altitude aircraft

X-Ray and Microscopy including Photography

The analysis of asbestos types found throughout BSC companies

Analysis of Electrode coatings produced for the steel industry


After redundancy in 1981 I worked as a chemist for Union Carbide UK, Sheffield on a fixed 3 1/2 year contract. This post was centred around the Quality Assurance of graphite products used in the nuclear power sector.  During this period I developed a computer programme on the BBC micro to carry out Permeability and Diffusivity calculations on nuclear grade graphite produced on site and abroad.

Little did I know at the time that Computing was to take over from Chemistry!

From 1985 to 2011 I  worked for Sheffield Polytechnic (later to become Sheffield Hallam University) in the Computer Studies department as a Senior Technician, then as Principal Technician.

During this period I worked mainly in software engineering, networking and video conferencing. I also became a RVL - regular visiting lecturer teaching programming, rapid prototyping and photo editing products to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

In 1999 I took time out from computing to study for a NEBOSH diploma in Health and Safety and became School Safety Manager.

Restructuring in 2006 meant moving back to IT where I worked in Web Technologies until taking early retirement and voluntary redundancy in 2011


Photography has always been a lifelong interest

Food and good wine


Long distance walks and climbing .... in my early days!

Mycology - the study of fungi

I've been a volunteer with the National Trust for 17 years working initially at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire and then Longshaw in Derbyshire.

This involves public fungi forays and various ecological surveys.

The Longshaw Fungi Survey team which I was part of were instrumental in stopping Network Rail destroying an ancient woodland (Rough Wood) in Derbyshire and the development of a major motorway service area at Smithy Wood near Thorpe Hesley near Rotherham.

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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