Society Lecture – Ancient Astronomy: Megaliths, landscapes and cosmologies, and Sir Isaac Newton Remembers – Mike Edmunds

April 13, 2019 @ 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Willingdon Memorial Hall
Church St
Eastbourne BN20 9HT

Title: Ancient Astronomy: Megaliths, landscapes and cosmologies, and Sir Isaac Newton Remembers – Mike Edmunds (Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics and former Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University)


Ancient Astronomy – How much was known about astronomy in ancient times,  before the written word? Did people worry about what happened in the sky? What was their picture of the Universe? This illustrated talk will try to describe what the surviving archaeological record – particularly of standing stones – may and may not be able to tell us. Stonehenge will feature – but there is a lot more besides, both from Britain and abroad. This is a controversial subject, requiring a tightrope walk between evidence and speculation.

“Sir Isaac Remembers……” – a one-man play performed by the author. It is 1725 and Sir Isaac Newton is sorting out his letters during the last year of his life. This dramatic reconstruction, lasting about one hour, is based entirely on authentic letters, contemporary reports and material. Sir Isaac offers thoughts on his science, his life, his lesser- known studies in alchemy and religion and the world in general ….. 


Mike Edmunds went to Cambridge University where his first degree was in Natural Sciences, specialising in Physics. He obtained his PhD at the Institute of Astronomy investigating the chemical compositions of stars. On moving to Cardiff University, he extended this research to the chemical composition of galaxies using the spectra of nebulae and also theoretical modelling of their chemical evolution. Other research interests included the formation of interstellar dust, particularly in early galaxies, and also some aspects of statistical astronomy. Mike stayed at Cardiff University throughout his career, serving a term as Head of Department and he is now Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics.

From 1999 a programme of research developed on the Antikythera Mechanism, a geared astronomical calculator dating from the first or second century B.C. Mike was the academic lead on an international programme involving UK, Greek and U.S. scholars, engineers and scientists that undertook X-Ray Computer Tomography of the remains of the device, leading to an understanding of its functions and the translation of its inscriptions.

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