The Cosmic Magic Show
Image: Prof. John Brown

The Astronomical Society of Glasgow's next public lecture for the 2018 - 2019 session will be Thursday 20th December, when Prof John Brown, Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Astronomy and Astrophysics Group, University of Glasgow, will be presenting "Black Holes, Black Magic and Interstellar Travel: How general relativity could help Santa span the galaxy"

The lecture will start promptly at 7:30pm. It will be preceded at 6:45 by December's Observing Section talk.

Please be aware there is a room change for this lecture. It will take place in room 6.67, rather than the usual 6.41. Details of how to find this room can be found at the end of this article.

 Professor John Brown

Our universe is full of amazing objects and phenomena, such as Black Holes, which astronomers try to understand from remote observations, like a cosmic magic show audience.

Gravity plays a fundamental role in every aspect of the universe, from its Big Bang beginnings to enabling life in diverse ways like enabling the sun to shine and keeping us and our air on the earth. Aided by his skills as a magician, John will explain what gravity is, how greatly its strength varies across the universe, and illustrate some if its properties including those of black holes, the strongest sources of gravity.  He will also talk about the vast scale of the universe, the huge challenges facing human hopes of travel across it, and how exotic things like gravitational worm holes might help us, and perhaps Santa, cover great distances quickly.



More info  at

John Brown has been 10th Astronomer Royal for Scotland (ARfS) since 1995. Prior to his retirement in 2010, he was 10th Regius Professor of Astronomy in Glasgow University followed by a 4 year Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship modeling cometary impacts with the sun and stars. He has published around 300 research papers mainly on inverse problems, stellar mass loss, and energetic solar plasmas, the last winning him the 2012 Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal. Though Glasgow - based throughout his career, he held sabbatical research fellowships in 17 institutions worldwide. In professional research he is a theorist but he is an enthusiastic amateur astronomer and involved in a number of Scottish dark sky initiatives – Glenelg, Skye, Coll, Lewis,and Tomintoul.  As ARfS he gives frequent talks and organises events for very diverse audiences, often working closely with the arts community and is well known for using his own semi-pro conjurer skills to simulate exotic physics phenomena. He is currently co-authoring a heavily illustrated popular book – Oor Big Braw Cosmos - on the beauty of the cosmos and of its workings, with new poems by the eminent Lalands poet Rab Wilson. He was awarded an OBE in the June 2016  Birthday Honours list for his ‘services to the promotion of astronomy and to science education’.


To find Room 6.67, first find your way to the usual room, Room 6.41, Royal College, Strathclyde University.  Access is via the Montrose Street entrance, take the lift to Level 3, exit the lift (turning left) and take the 2nd (furthest away) set of steps, and go through the double glass doors.  Room 6.41 is on your left approximately half way along the corridor. 

From Room 6.41, Room 6.67 can be found using the following map (click on the map for a larger version):

Finding Room 6.67 from Room 6.41