20th October Lecture: Giant Impact Simulations: Why Does Uranus Spin on its Side?

Uranus spins on its side. With its spin axis pointing almost at right angles to those of all the other planets, the common explanation is that a proto-planet at least as large as the Earth crashed into the young planet, sending it spinning in this new direction.

Giant impacts like these were common events in the early solar system and help explain many other mysteries such as the origin of the Moon, as well as features of the exoplanets we see around distant stars.

Jacob’s team run supercomputer simulations with millions of particles to re-create and study these cataclysmic events.

In this talk, Jacob will focus on our recent work with Uranus and how this violent impact might also explain the planet’s extremely cold surface, strange magnetic field, and unusual satellite system.


15th September Lecture: Swimming in the Water Hole: Exploring the depths of the Autumn skies

The Autumn is one of speaker Dave Newton’s favourite times of year for astronomy, thanks in part to the longer, darker nights.

Importantly, in Autumn evenings we are looking away from our own galaxy (the Milky Way) and into the deep space beyond.

The Autumn constellations have a decidedly watery theme, containing Pisces the fishes, Cetus the sea monster, and Aquarius the water bearer amongst other.

While this patch of dark sky is seemingly devoid of bright stars, it is home to some fascinating objects.

Dave will show us some of the sunken treasures that can be found if you are prepared to go diving in this deepest part of the sky.


31st August: SAS Starbeque

SAS Starbeque event at Derwent Reservoir Car Park.

  • Date:  Saturday 31st August 2019,
  • Time: From 7 pm until very late, observing afterwards if weather is favorable.
  • Venue: Will take place at at Derwent Reservoir located at our Millshield dark sky site.

This is our traditional celebration of the return of darker nights and, as in previous years a preseason event starter. 

The event is free to attend (members,  invited guests & the public) though you will need to supply your own barbeque goodies (for e,g, food, disposable barbies, etc), scopes, etc.

Note: There is now a car parking charge of £1.50 for the night Millfields Car Park.


18th August Lecture: Who won the space race?

The talk will be about the successes, and failures, of the Soviet Space Programme focusing on the story of Sergei Korolev and the Semyorka (seven) launcher and Soyuz spacecraft  he designed which are both still in service unlike all the US Apollo hardware which has long since retired.

When US astronauts go to the International Space Station in a Soyuz capsule on top of a Semyorka rocket perhaps it is appropriate to ask  the question “who really won the space race?” and look again at the history of space in the 1960s.


21st July Lecture: One Small Step – The legacy of the Apollo programme

21st July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moonwalk, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on another world.

For a brief period, the Moon became our first outpost in the wider cosmos before the manned missions ceased in December 1972.

In total, only 12 men ever walked on the Moon.

Yet, Armstrong’s ‘small step for a man’ changed our view of the universe, and more, profoundly.

In this talk, Dave Newton reflects upon the Apollo programme, its highs and lows, the scientific discoveries, and Apollo’s impacts on the world that are still being felt today.


12th July: Apollo 11 50th Anniversary – Lunar – Stargazing Event

Saturday 20th July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and with it comes a fantastic opportunity to celebrate arguably one of humankind’s greatest achievements.

Visit the Cygnus Observatory based at the Washington Wetlands Centre & join the Sunderland Astronomical Society for a an event dedicated to the Apollo 11 50th anniversary.

See the moon in stunning detail through many telescopes and enjoy a tour of the night skies from this welcoming and friendly group of amateur astronomers.

  • Powerful telescopes will be available to view:
  • The Moon.
  • Plus many other astronomical wonders of the night sky.
  • And possibly other members of our Solar System family.

Date: Friday 12th July 2019.

Times: from 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm.

Price: Free Entry (Ticket Booking required)

Pow Hill Dark Sky Site

30th June Summer Lecture: How To Take Deep Sky Photos

Summer Lecture 1: How to take deep sky photos with Chris Duffy from 7.00pm.

Join us for the start of our ‘SAS Summer Lectures’ as our very own Chris Duffy takes you through:

  • How he has his gear set up,
  • How to take amazing astro images,
  • How to polar align using sharpcap,
  • How to set up in APT so that you too can get the amazing astrophotography pics that Chris achieves.

However, this is in no way a guarantee but he’ll try his best :- )


21st April Lecture: DESI – the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument.

The expansion history and large-scale structure of the Universe is a key prediction of cosmological models, and DESI observations will permit scientists to probe diverse aspects of cosmology, from dark energy to alternatives to General Relativity to neutrino masses to the early Universe.

DESI will measure the expansion history of the Universe using the baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) imprinted in the clustering of galaxies, quasars, and the intergalactic medium and will extract cosmological distance information from the clustering of matter and galaxies.