Talks List

I have been giving astronomy presentations for many years now, speaking to astronomy societies, camera clubs, U3A and WI groups, schools and Beavers/Cubs/Scouts groups. I have spoken at many festivals both in person and online, presented a webinar for Sky at Night Magazine and have presented the Sky Notes at two BAA meetings. Below is a list of talks I’ve previously given with a brief description of what is covered. In addition to this list, I regularly custom design talks for schools depending on what learning outcomes are required, and have done sessions with children aged 2 upwards. If the talks below don’t cover exactly what you need, please contact me and we can discuss your requirements. I can also adjust the length of any of my talks to suit your requirements.

Please note: because of health reasons I have to restrict the amount of travelling I do and sometimes I need my husband to accompany me. Also if my pain and mobility levels are bad, I may require wheelchair access.

Virtual Talks:
I am available to do any of my talks via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or any other virtual conferencing platform so please contact me if you want to find out more. Virtual meetings were a great way for members and speakers to keep in touch during pandemic restrictions but it also allows me to speak to groups that may be geographically too far for me to travel to in person. I have done many talks for overseas groups now, including the USA, Canada and New Zealand, and I’m happy to work in different time zones.

“Shadows in Space and the Stories They Tell”– from shadows on Earth to shadows on the surface of the Moon we can learn a lot. But it doesn’t stop there; cameras on probes in orbit around other planets and their moons have taught us a lot just by studying the shadows visible there. I gave this talk as the William Fox Memorial Lecture at the BAA Horncastle weekend in 2018 and it was well received. A 30 minute version of this is also available.

”A History of Women in Astronomy Part 1” – Throughout history astronomy has been very male dominated. There have been many trailblazing women, such as Caroline Herschel, who have worked to change that, but in addition there were countless women working in astronomy before Caroline. This talk tells their story and discusses some of the challenges women have faced historically and still face today. Part 2 coming soon!

“Creating Stunning Star Trails” is a really popular talk that covers absolutely everything you need to know to create star trails images. I will take you through framing and composition, camera settings, instructions on how to use the free star trails software, basic image processing and finally how to create a timelapse video of your beautiful star trails. Everything that’s covered in the talk is also summarised in a free PDF star trails photography guide written by me, and will be emailed out after the talk. I’ve given this talk at several festivals, including the Wex Photographic Astronomy Show, as well lots of different astronomical societies and camera clubs.

“Photographing the Milky Way from the UK” – imaging the Milky Way from the UK can be tricky, but definitely worth the effort! in this talk I cover all aspects of trying to get the best Milky Way shots from the UK using basic camera equipment. Most of my Milky Way photography has been done from Oxfordshire where there is considerable light pollution so I also cover the image processing techniques that have worked for me. Part of this talk covers material which was featured in an article that I wrote for the October 2018 issue of Sky at Night magazine. Even if you aren’t interested in astronomy in general, the Milky Way can provide a dramatic backdrop to any nightscape photograph so this talk is suitable for camera clubs as well as astronomy clubs and societies.

Photographing Meteor Showers” covers everything you need to know about photographing meteors and meteor showers using basic camera equipment.

“Photographing Lightning & Weather” – in this talk, I take you on some of my adventures chasing thunder storms to capture some breathtaking lightning images, plus how I photograph other weather phenomena, such as atmospheric optical effects like ice haloes and arcs and interesting cloud formations such as noctilucent clouds using basic camera equipment.

“Photographing The Night Sky: A Beginner’s Guide to Astrophotography” covers all the basics of getting started with astrophotography, with and without a telescope. I usually do this as a 2 hour workshop but have an abridged version which I have got down to just over an hour.

“Improve Your Astrophotography” covers how to get started with stacking with walk through on how to use Autostakkert! 2, Registax 6 and Deep Sky Stacker plus some basic Photoshop Processing. Again started out as a 2 hour workshop but also have a 1 hour version.

 “My Astrophotography Highlights” – this is a run through my favourite astronomy photos to date, along with informative explanations of how I captured and processed them. There are some stories along the way of why these images are important to me. This can be adapted to fit anywhere between 30 – 60 minutes.

“Astronomy: Past & Present” – in this 1 hour talk, I cover the history of astronomy, from prehistoric cave paintings to robotic telescopes. It includes stories about important people who were pivotal with their contribution to astronomy alongside the changes in theory and science behind the subject.

“Reflection, Refraction & Excitation: The Hunt For Atmospheric Optics” – we get a lot of cloud in the UK and as astronomers this can be frustrating. However, there is so much beauty in the atmospheric optical effects associated with certain cloud types. This talk is all about rainbows, haloes, arcs, sundogs,  etc., how they form and where to see them. I also touch on noctilucent clouds and aurora. Once you know what you’re looking for you will be amazed at how often you spot things!

“Constellations: From Mythology to Modern Day” – humans have studied the night sky since the dawn of time. This talk covers some of the constellation mythological stories from around the world, how they were named and some of the superstitions surrounding astronomical events. It then goes on to talk about how we view constellations in the modern day and some of the interesting things that reside within them.

“Astronomy Sketching Workshop” – this popular practical workshop has been run at several astronomy events including the Solarsphere Festival for several years as well as the Fairford Festival and Wiltshire Dark Skies Festival. In addition I have visited high schools to teach Astronomy GCSE Pupils how to sketch for their coursework. I cover how to sketch the Moon, Sun and deep sky objects on both white and black paper, using pencils and pastels. I take people through step by step how to create sketches from photographs and these skills can then be adapted for use at the telescope. I can provide all art materials if required.
*This workshop can now be offered virtually. I will take you through how to approach astronomy sketching using materials you will already have at home, i.e., pencils, white paper and an eraser. I will have a camera pointing at my hands so you can sketch along with me step by step. You can then take those skills forward yourself to sketch at the eyepiece.

“Astronomy Sketching and Artwork” – this is not a practical workshop, but it is a talk showing some of my favourite astronomy sketches to date and how I created them. It also covers astronomy/space themed art that I have created not only on canvas, but hand-painted tote bags, shoes and clothing. It even includes nebula inspired hand-painted jewellery and bracelets made from recycled guitar strings which are inspired by orreries.

“Our Great USA Solar Eclipse Adventure” – this talk takes you on a journey to the USA where we had our honeymoon viewing the solar eclipse. How did we plan the trip? How did we plan the photography? What did it feel like? This talk is full of images and videos from the eclipse trip along with detailed information on the planning of those shots. This has been popular with camera clubs as well as astronomy societies.

“What Has The Space Programme Ever Done For Us?!” – some people believe that space exploration is a waste of money, but there are so many everyday things that we take for granted that wouldn’t exist without it. This talk takes a deep dive into this subject, looking in detail at direct benefits thanks to satellites, etc., but also taking a look at some of the less well known spin-offs.

“Whistle Stop Tour of the Solar System” – join me on the space tour bus to explore the planets and moons of our Solar System.

Comments and testimonials:

I just wanted to add my appreciation to you for such an entertaining evening.  I was totally riveted by your wonderful images and the very obvious pleasure you have in taking them and sharing them with others. You gave us a real treat last night! I for one was very envious of your trip […to the USA to see the solar eclipse]” (from a member of Banbury Camera Club)

“Thank you so much to Mary McIntyre for her illustrated talk on “A History of Women in Astronomy” The amount of research that she had done was amazing and although there were a lot of names and information, her delivery kept everyone engaged and involved as she brought these names alive. it was great to see so many people at the meeting and to hear so many positive comments and great feedback” (from a member of Tackley Local History Group)

 “Excellent! Learned a lot from it. Nicely structured and great details with a personal touch” (Wex Photographic attendee)

I was very inspired by your talk on star trail photography last Thursday at Wallingford Photo Club; I just had to have a go

“Thank you for your most interesting, informative and instructive presentation to us last night.  I am sure that you could see from our enthusiasm that we will be making our own individual attempts at producing star trails when the conditions are right” Wallingford Photo Club

Just a quick note to say thanks very much for your presentation to us. It went down very well indeed and a couple of people have said ‘best this year!’ “ Deddington, Adderbury and District Camera Club

“I have been attending U3A meetings for over 25 years and this was the best talk I’ve ever seen!” from a member of U3A, Woodstock  

“I just wanted to thank you so much again for coming into school yesterday. It was absolutely brilliant – you are incredibly and inspiringly knowledgeable about all things space” from a teacher at Forest Farm School