Last term, Sixth Form and Year 11 Physicists were treated to a lecture by Dr Robin Catchpole, an Astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, and a former Senior Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Dr Catchpole thrilled the students with his illustrated talk on ‘The Universe Unveiled’, prompting much discussion afterwards. This topic picks up where the IGCSE Physics ‘Big Bang’ topic finishes, encompassing the evolution of the universe from then until now, bringing in recent ideas such as dark energy and dark matter. His traditional lectures are richly illustrated with astronomical images, giving a mainly non-mathematical understanding of the current major ideas underlying astronomy. His research interests include the composition of stars, exploding stars, the structure of our Galaxy and galaxies with central black holes.

Dr Catchpole took a BSc at University College, London, before being posted to the Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, and received his doctorate from the University of Cape Town. In 1991, he returned to the Royal Greenwich Observatory, where he worked until it closed in 1998. While at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, he originated the design of the 33 ton bronze truncated cone at the new Astronomy Centre, completed and opened by the Queen in 2007. He has authored and co-authored over 120 research papers and has used telescopes around the world including the Hubble Space Telescope. His research interests include the composition of stars, exploding stars, the structure of our Galaxy and galaxies with central black holes. He gives numerous popular lectures and radio and TV interviews.

It was a fascinating lecture, enjoyed by both girls and staff!