21 March

12:00 - 18:00

About Space:Exe

Space:Exe is a society at the University of Exeter for all the students who look up at the sky with wonder. Created four years ago, we believe that space is for everyone, whether you want to study its intricacies or enjoy its beauty. We have worked to build a radio telescope for students and the general public to use, as well as hosted stargazing events on campus where the vastness of the night sky can be appreciated.

We are also building a high altitude balloon, which we plan to launch soon, which will measure the carbon dioxide profile of the atmosphere as it ascends, as well as take beautiful photos of the curvature of the Earth.

We want to spread the love of space to as many people as possible; fostering a community at the University of Exeter for everyone who shares that love with us.

About the Conference

One thing we are passionate about as a society is sharing the wonders of the universe with everyone. This is one of the reasons we are delighted to be organising our third conference devoted to all things space.

Once again, we have some fantastic speakers coming from the University of Exeter, Met Office, Heidelberg Univeristy, Norman Lockyer Observatory and others. This year we have an open area in the Peter Chalk Centre, where our exhibitors from the Institute of Physics, First Light Optics and others are coming along to show you some of the wonderful astronomy and space science related things going on in the South West.

Stay tuned to our lastest updates on speakers and programme. Here is an example of our event last year.

To keep up to date, please do visit our Facebook event.

Everyone is welcome to come along for a single talk or for the whole day. We look forward to seeing you.


Time Talk
12:00 Registration
12:30 Plenary Talk
Discs around young stars - the planetary nurseries
Prof. Tim Naylor
The Norman Lockyer Observatory
Des Howlett
13:45 Coffee Break
Space Weather and its Impact on the Earth
Siddhant Deshmukh
Applying Radio Astronomy to the Weather
Dr. Chris Brunt
15:15 Coffee Break
Using Astrophysics to Treat Cancer
Laura Moran
Communicating Climate Science
Ayesha Tandon
Measuring the Fundamental Properties of Stars
Sam Morrell
17:15 Drinks Reception


Professor Tim Naylor

Norman Lockyer Professor of Astrophysics, University of Exeter

Tim Naylor is the Norman Lockyer Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Exeter. His research has covered a broad range of stellar astrophysics from black holes to young stars and now includes planet planet-hunting.

We have long known that planets must form in the discs around young stars, but it is becoming increasingly clear these are rather hostile places for planet formation. This talk will cover the basics of planet formation, and discuss new evidence as to how difficult it may be.

Image Credit: Max Alexander

Dr. Des Howlett

Director, Norman Lockyer Observatory

Dr Des Howlett has been keen on Astronomy from a very young age, having followed the various space programmes as a child and beyond. Since moving to the Southwest, he has become a member of the Norman Lockyer Observatory and was elected a Director in 2018. He has a particular interest in celestial mechanics and can often be found sitting quietly, looking through binoculars simply admiring the patterns of the stars.

Professionally he is a Chartered European Engineer and works around the world teaching other engineers how to design electronics and write computer software.

Siddhant Deshmukh

Postgraduate, Landessternwarte (State Observatory), Heidelberg, Germany

I am a 1st year PhD student working in the Galactic Archaeology group at the Landessternwarte (State Observatory) in Heidelberg, Germany. My work involves constraining the abundance of Silicon in the Sun using 3D stellar models, as well as investigating the various processes that occur within stellar atmospheres. In my talk, I will outline the science of space weather, its causes and effects, and how we might overcome the issues ‘storms’ could cause.

Space weather is a branch of physics, concerned with the time varying conditions within the Solar System, including the solar wind, emphasizing the space surrounding the Earth. This wind is caused by magnetic fields and convection within the Sun, and it itself is magnetised. Our planet’s magnetic field protects us from this barrage of material, keeping our atmosphere intact. However, sufficiently powerful magnetism in the wind could disable satellites as well as our systems here on the Earth, and so it is important to understand and be able to predict such phenomena.

Dr. Chris Brunt

Lecturer in Astrophysics, University of Exeter

Abstract Coming Soon.

Laura Moran

Postgraduate, University of Exeter

I am a third-year PhD student working at the University of Exeter. I am based in both the Astrophysics group and the Biophysics group as I work on applying computational techniques to biophysical problems. In particular, I look at applying code previously used for investigating protoplanetary disks to improving how we detect breast cancer. In my talk, I will discuss how I am using these two fields together and how we can use lasers to improve the current methods of detecting breast cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers, with over 50,000 women diagnosed every year in the UK alone. Improving the diagnosis pathway and also detecting cancer earlier would improve survival rates. We are aiming to use laser light to non-invasively detect biological changes that could indicate cancer.

Raman spectroscopy can be used to chemically identify molecules; of particular interest are calcifications present in breast tissue. Different calcifications are present in different types of breast tissue. Therefore, by determining which type of calcification is present, there is potential for a minimally invasive method of detecting breast cancer.

The human body is a highly scattering medium which creates a problem for recovering a good signal at depth. I use computer simulations to investigate how best to design equipment that can detect these calcifications in amongst the signals from the rest of the matter in the body.

Ayesha Tandon

Climate Science Communicator, Met Office

I graduated from The University of Exeter in 2019 with a Masters degree in Natural Sciences, and now work at the Met Office as a Climate Science Communicator.

The Met Office produces world-leading research on climate science, but this is often highly technical and can be difficult to understand. This is where my colleagues and I come in! We write paper summaries, produce briefings, and design infographics to explain climate research more easily, allowing people without a scientific background to understand important pieces of science. It is very difficult for people to care about new research if they cannot fully understand it, so this work is crucial for bridging the gap between scientists and policy makers.

In my talk, I will give a whistle-stop tour of the work that my colleagues and I do at the Met Office to communicate the science of climate change. I will then look at how climate scientists at the Met Office use their models to draw conclusions about the climate, and highlight a few interesting pieces of climate research.

Sam Morrell

Postgraduate, University of Exeter

I have just completed a PhD in the astrophysics group at the University of Exeter. My thesis explored how modern astronomical datasets can be harnessed to sharpen our thinking on a number of problems issues currently facing modern astrophysics. I may also be familiar to some, as I am the former president of Space:Exe.

In my talk, I will dive into some of the topics in my thesis by introducing you to the fundamental parameters which dictate the characteristics and evolution of all stars, and describing how we have been able to harness novel data analysis techniques and the large quantities of new and existing archival observations to measure them. I will also show you how assembling stellar samples of unprecedented size, precision and accuracy have allowed us to address some of the long-standing problems in low-mass stellar evolution and exoplanet science.

Getting Here

The event is being held in the Newman Blue Lecture Theatre in the Peter Chalk Centre. The building is on the Streatham Campus of the University of Exeter, marked on this map. If you’ve coming by car, there is plenty of parking available on campus. There is on-road parking available on Prince of Wales Road as well as free parking available in the university car parks, which are well signposted when on campus. There is also a park-and-ride scheme operating on the outskirts of the city.

You can also get to the campus by bus using the D bus service, which operates from the city centre.


Peter Chalk Centre, University of Exeter Stocker Rd, Exeter, EX4 4QD


To cover the costs of hosting the conference, we are selling tickets for admission to the talks. However, admission to the Peter Chalk centre, where the exhibitors will be, is free and does not require a ticket. Any profit that we make will be put straight back into the projects run by Space:Exe for our members and towards funding future conferences and events. They can be purchased by both students and the general public from the Students' Guild website ahead of the conference, or on the door.


Contact Us

To find out more information, please do get in touch. You can message us on our Facebook page. You can also email us at spaceexe.exeter@gmail.com.