Armagh Observatory 2012 Robinson Lecture


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The 2012 Robinson Lecture will be held on Thursday, 22nd November commencing at 8.00 p.m. in the Armagh City Hotel, 2 Friary Road, Armagh. The Robinson Lecture is held biennially in memory of the founder of the Armagh Observatory, Archbishop Richard Robinson (1708-1794). This year’s lecture is the eleventh in the series. The guest Lecturer and Robinson Medallist will be Professor David Southwood, Imperial College London. Professor Southwood will speak on the topic "To Mars, Titan and the Universe Beyond! Europe’s Arrival on the Space Frontier".

Professor Southwood commented: "The Lecture will review how the European Space Agency has become an increasingly obvious presence in space science. Some of the successes will be described from a personal point of view as well as some of the frustrations, and the wider case will be made for why space science and exploration is important for a modern society".

David Southwood graduated in 1966 and then proceeded to carry out postgraduate research at Imperial College, London where he obtained a PhD in Physics. He then went as a postdoctoral student for a period to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), returning later as a visiting professor. He has spent much of his career teaching and carrying out research in space physics. In 1971 he returned to Imperial College London, where he headed the Blackett Laboratory from 1994 until 1997. Professor Southwood began working at ESA in 1997 as Head of Earth Observation Strategy where he introduced The Living Planet programme. During his career, he has been a Visiting Professor at the University of California Los Angeles.

He has chaired a number of committees associated with space science in Europe. These include head of the ESA Space Science Advisory Committee from 1990 to 1993 and head of the ESA Science Programme Committee from 1993 to 1996. He took up the post of Director of Science at ESA in May 2001 and is currently the President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

He has published over 200 scientific papers and other articles, and has worked on a number of space missions, including heading the team that built the magnetometer onboard the NASA/ESA Cassini-Saturn orbiter, currently investigating the gas giant Saturn and its system of rings and satellites.

Admission to the lecture, which will conclude with light refreshments at 9.00 p.m., is by ticket only. For your free ticket for this event, please contact Mrs Aileen McKee at the Armagh Observatory, Tel.: 028-3752-2928; Fax: 028-3752-7174; or e-mail: ambnat

Professor Southwood will also deliver the Robinson Schools Lecture "What is Space Exploration About?" in the Royal School Armagh, College Hill, Armagh, at 2.00 p.m. on Wednesday, 21st November 2012. Here is a short summary of the lecture:
"The lecture will explain how one gets into space, the benefits and advantages of space exploration and doing astronomy from above the Earth’s atmosphere, and of the robotic exploration of planets and other bodies in the solar system".
Teachers and pupils who would like to attend should contact Mr Warren Fowles, The Royal School, College Hill, Armagh. Tel.: 028-3752-2807; email: sfowles830at, and plan to arrive by 1.30 p.m.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfat

Last Revised: 2012 November 6th