Historical Section Meeting 2018

Saturday 26th May 201808:00

The cost will be £5 for BAA members and £10 for non-members, including refreshments but not lunch.


09:30               Doors open

09:30 – 10:00  Refreshments & Registration

10:00 – 10:00  Introduction and Welcome – Mike Frost

10:10 – 11:05  Dr Lee Macdonald – “Kew Observatory and the birth of solar-terrestrial physics”

Lee Macdonald, the deputy director of the historical section, tells us about his researches into the Kew Observatory (the subject of his doctoral thesis), with some Scottish connections.

11:05 – 12:00  John Rosenfield – “Fear and Loathing: the moons of Mars”

John Rosenfield presents the extraordinary history of the two moons of Mars – Phobos and Deimos – including an unexpected link to Gulliver’s Travels. 

12:00 – 13:30  Lunch Break (The Smith Museum has a café)

13:30 – 13:35  Welcome back

13:35 – 14:30  Bill Barton – “Alice Grace Cook – an East Anglian meteor observer”

Bill Barton tells us about an important figure from the early years of the British Astronomical Association. Alice Grace Cook (1877-1958) was one of the first female fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society and director of the BAA Meteor Section. Very little is known about her, though. This presentation describes her life and her contributions to astronomy.

14:30 – 15:25  Dr Vanessa Smer-Barreto – “Mayan Astronomy”

Dr Smer, from Mexico, is a recent graduate of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. This talk will explore the place and importance of astronomical practice in Mayan society: its agricultural cycle, war endeavours, and human sacrifices. To that effect, we will look into this culture’s knowledge of Venus, the Sun, the Moon, eclipses, calendars, the Milky Way, constellations, and their progress in mathematics

15:25 – 15:50  Refreshments

15:50 – 16:50  Dr Dave Gavine – “Thomas Dick of Dundee”

Dave Gavine, former director of the BAA aurora section, will tell us about a colourful character from Scottish astronomical history. 

17:00               Meeting Ends

There will also be a display by the Aurora and Noctilucent Clouds section.

The Smith Gallery and Museum is located in central Stirling, a fifteen-minute walk from Stirling Station. There is plenty of free car parking in the museum grounds.

The museum is the meeting place of Stirling Astronomical Society, who will be meeting there at 7:30 PM on Friday 25th May, with a talk on “The Green Flash” by section director Mike Frost, to which you are cordially invited.

Stirling AS also invite us to visit their observatory on the top of the Highland Hotel, Spittal St, Stirling – meet at the Highland Hotel lobby at 19:00 on Saturday evening.

We look forward to seeing you in the beautiful city of Stirling!

Mike Frost, B.A.A. Historical Section Director

Lee Macdonald, Deputy Section Director


Smith Gallery and Museum, Dumbarton Rd, Stirling FK8 2RQ

google map code for website

Booking Information

The cost will be £5 for BAA members and £10 for non-members, including refreshments but not lunch.

You can pay on the day or pre-book for the meeting using one of the following methods:

  • Booking through the BAA online shop
  • Print the pdf or Word booking form and return it to the BAA Office by Friday 18th May 2018.
  • Contact the BAA office on 0207 734 4145 (staffed 9am to 5pm, Mon-Fri).