The Local Group

Astrobiology was the main theme of our February meeting. Ronald Anderson, our lead speaker, questioned whether we are alone in the Universe and what makes planet Earth so special. Ronald went on to discuss the extremes of life seen on Earth and whether such hostile conditions could support life elsewhere within our Solar System. There followed two short talks where Dr. Tony Baxter outlined the current status of compact nuclear fusion. The stars generate their energy from nuclear fusion via gravity. On Earth we have tried replicating this since the late 1950’s with magnetic fields. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars we seem no closer to this elusive power source. However with recent private investment in small compact fusion reactors, success looks to be on the horizon and more should evolve from this exciting science in the next decade. Finally David Pulley outlined the latest research on a new possible 9th planet to our Solar System and the history of Planet X, which, it has been suggested, has caused mass extinctions here on Earth.

In March we welcome an academic in the field of remote Earth observation describing how we can use satellites to monitor the Earth’s environment, oceans, forests, ice-caps sea levels etc. and how these same techniques are used to remotely sense distant planets in our solar system. Future talks will embrace NASA’s mission to an asteroid to return samples, gravitational waves, observing and measuring comets, Sunspots and star spots, lunar occultation’s and astrophotography.

The Local Group meets each over dinner in a Bexhill. Further details can be found by e-mailing to, call 07768 175580 or visit The Local Group is affiliated to the Cafe Scientifique.

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