Blackett Science Lecture

Professor Giovanna Tinetti, Professor of Astrophysics at University College London, gave the 14th annual Blackett Science Lecture – held in the Ellis Theatre on Tuesday 27th November.

Professor Tinetti is a leading researcher in the UK into Extra-Solar planets (Exoplanets) and specifically the work to discover the chemical composition of their atmospheres, which of course will be a key indicator of potential life. The talk titled ‘Brave New Worlds – planets in our galaxy’ covered the techniques for categorising the 4,000 or so planets discovered around distant stars in the last 20 years and hinted at the potential for the billions more yet to be found.

The diversity of planets and their stellar systems puts our Solar system into context and shows we are not typical nor indeed special (apart from harbouring life!) Professor Tinetti is the Director of the UCL Exoplanets Space data analysis centre and a co-founder and director of Blue Sky Space ltd which aims to support smaller satellite probes, such as ‘twinkle and its educational version Edu-Twinkle. It was inspiring to hear the dedication and long term view that has to be taken to seek success in this area and she is the Principal Investigator on one of the largest upcoming European Space Agency missions (ARIEL) which is due for a 2028 launch and will be the first spacecraft to specifically measure the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres and their temperature profile.

A large audience of pupils, especially astronomers and physicist joined members of the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope outreach group.

Charlie Barclay
Head of Astronomy

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