Date: Friday 14th October | Time: 10.00am – 11.00am

Nigel Henbest

Nigel Henbest has been Astronomy Consultant to New Scientist magazine, Editor of the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, and Media Consultant to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. He is soon to become an astronaut on the Virgin Galactic. The authors live in Buckinghamshire, UK.


Lecture synopsis

The constellations from Babylon to Bowie

A highly illustrated presentation by Nigel Henbest

The sky is filled with bears, lions, water-snakes, heroes – and even the odd chisel and airpump – but who created these star-patterns; and why?

 In this entertaining and informative overview, Nigel Henbest relates how the ancient constellations were rooted in Babylonian superstitions and the navigational needs of Minoan sailors, while the ‘new constellations’ of the southern sky were created by Renaissance map-makers. When international decree drew up the definite 88 constellations in 1930, they threw out Charles’s Oak, the Sceptre and Hand of Justice, and Felis – the poor cat!

 Nigel also reveals the unique star-patterns of the ancient Chinese and Australia Aboriginal constellations – and how people have bucked the system and joined-up-the-dots in the sky to create wacky new constellations, from Noah’s Ark to The Women and even David Bowie’s trademark lightning bolt…