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Nottingham Trent University lecture, 30.01.2014


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Open Dome Event - A Yardstick for our Solar System


The solar system is our galactic back yard and nothing compared to the size of the Galaxy or the entire observable Universe. But still space probes need decades to travel through it. However already ancient astronomers were able to determine distances between Earth, Moon and Sun.


Mr Ahmed (AstroCom) will be illustrating how basic naked eye observation and geometry led us to determine the distance to the Moon and the Sun more than 2000 years ago. He will also talk about how in the 16th century this yardstick helped us to determine distances to our planets.






I'm on call for work that evening but I am planning to go anyway. Booking is required and the info is on the website.


Maybe see you there.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Very good talk on Thursday, despite Dan Brown not being there. One of his colleagues stepped up to introduce the session, and as always one of the current undergraduates sorted out refreshments and home made biscuits (very nice), and did a brief talk of things to look for in the night sky in the coming month.


Tahir Ahmed did the main talk.


He works in IT, but his passion is astronomy. He runs small workshops for people who want to learn more, and does sessions throughout the community:




He spoke to us about distances, and how the ancients worked out how far things were away from earth in terms of astronomical units. It is amazing to think that people over 2000 years ago had such a good grasp of maths (better than mine today), and were able to work out the distance of the the sun, and moon for example with remarkable accuracy.


He spoke mostly about two figures:








Much of this discussion is in basic books on astronomy, but it was great to hear someone talk about it, with the passion that Tahir clearly has.


I'm struggling to remember all the content of the lecture, but it was an excellent talk for anyone who wanted to learn more about how the ancients started making detailed observations and calculations; they even proposed that maybe the earth wasn't at the centre of the universe, which is now attributed to Copernicus circa 1553 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaus_Copernicus).


I look forward to the next even in February:





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This was an interesting talk. The speaker came across well and his material was pitched at the right level, referencing the maths used without going into it too much. It is amazing how much was discovered back then but then either not accepted or lost completely. Maybe if the library in Alexandria hadn't been destroyed, the human race might be a few steps further forward?

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