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Martin Lunn - Anglo-Saxon Astronomy
Martin Lunn - Anglo-Saxon Astronomy

Wed, 15 Sept


Online by Zoom

Martin Lunn - Anglo-Saxon Astronomy

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Time & Location

15 Sept 2021, 20:00 – 22:00

Online by Zoom

About the Event

The Anglo-Saxon period is often known as the Dark Ages because of the lack of information we have about this period of time, but astronomically it could not be more interesting. During this time there were several major events with global effects. It was a time of diverse views about the heavens in Britain, with Celtic, Greek, Saxon and Viking ideas all competing with each other.


I studied for my degree in astrophysics with the Open University while working as a guard on British Rail between 1979-82. On being made redundant in 1986 I joined the Civil Service in London.

I was appointed Curator of Astronomy at the Yorkshire Museum in York in 1989, a post I held until I took early retirement in 2011. As a public astronomer I promoted astronomy at the York Observatory, which is part of the museum, including arranging open viewing evenings and special events. At the same time I undertook research into astronomy. 

It was during my time at the museum that I became (apparently!) a leading authority on one of the world’s greatest telescope makers, Thomas Cooke of York, who amongst other achievements made a telescope for Prince Albert in 1860 and constructed the Newal Refractor, at the time the largest telescope in the world. In addition I also became a noted authority on the 18th century astronomer John Goodricke, who was deaf and without speech. He lived in York and during his brief life (he died before he was 22 years old) helped change the way astronomers look at the stars. The third topic for my work was the Middlesbrough Meteorite, which is used as a text book example of an oriented meteorite.

I worked with North Yorkshire Education Authority and the Yorkshire Museum to produce an event called ‘Earth and Space’ which ran each autumn for six years from 1992. The event was a series of interactive workshops running over a six week period, during which 6,000 children would participate each year.

In 1998 I was presented with an MBE for services to astronomy and education.

Until 2020 when I took retirement due to Covid I spent my time working in schools, usually primary, with my Stardome Planetarium. During the last seventeen years I have taken the Stardome into over 1200 schools. I also have presented many ‘Star Parties’; after school events where I take parents and children outside to look at the night sky.

I present talks to astronomy societies, and to various institutions such as the Women’s Institute, Probus Clubs and historical societies, I also run our local astronomy group, the Earby Astronomical Society. Earby is situated in Lancashire close to the Yorkshire border near Skipton. We are probably one of the few societies to hold our meetings in a church. 

In 2017 I began presenting astronomy talks on cruise ships and my first ship was the CMV Magellan. Since then I have presented astronomy talks on three other cruises on Magellan and once on Columbus.  I have also presented astronomy talks on ships for the P+O and Fred. Olsen Lines.

I have made a series of short films on Youtube about the planets which can be seen on the ‘Hitch Hikers Guide to the Cosmos’ page. I also present a weekly astronomy show on Drystone radio which is a community radio station covering the Yorkshire Dales, with internet listeners around the world. I present regular blogs and podcasts on Astronomy and I also write a regular monthly astronomy column for the Craven Herald newspaper which covers the Yorkshire Dales.

In 2021 I was guest local expert on the BBC TV show The Antiques Road Trip, talking about Thomas Cooke telescopes.

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