Duncan's Talks


Duncan Lunan, M.A., Dip. Ed., is the author of Man and the Stars”, “New Worlds for Old”, Man and the Planets, and editor of “Starfield”, plus over 1570 articles, inc­luding contributions to 36 other books, and 42 short stories including the collections The Elements of Time, published by Shoreline of Infinity in 2017, "From the Moon to the Stars" and "The Other Side of the Interface" (summer 2020).   Children from the Sky, a speculative investigation of a mediaeval mys­t­ery – the Green Children of Woolpit” was published by Mutus Liber of Edinburgh in May 2012, The Stones and the Stars, Building Scotland’s Newest Megalith” was published internationally by Springer at the end of November 2012 and Incoming Asteroid!  What could we do about it?” was published by Springer in October 2013. “Starfield, science fiction by Scottish writers”, the first ever anthology of science fiction by Scottish writers (1989), was reprinted in paperback by Shoreline of Infinity, May 2018.


Duncan’s astronomy column, ‘The Sky Above You’, has appeared in many newspapers and magazines since its inception in May 1983, and currently appears in Troon’s Going Out, The Orkney News  and on this website.


Duncan was Assistant Curator of Airdrie Public Observatory, 1987-97 and 2002-2008;  as Manager of the Glasgow Parks Astronomy Project, 1978-79, he designed and built the first astronomically aligned stone circle in Britain for over 3000 years.


Duncan was the only amateur scientist ever to speak during the 9-year run of the IBM Heathrow Conferences. Other major previous speaking engagements include the ‘Beyond This Horizon’ festival, Sunderland, 1973; Dumbarton ‘Quality of Life Experiment’, 1975; ‘The High Frontier, A Decade of Space Research’, Third Eye Centre and Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow, 1979; keynote speaker, ‘A View from Earth 1984’. Big Bear Lake, California, July 1984; World Science Fiction Conventions (Los Angeles and Glasgow) 1984, 1995 and 2005; Guest of Honour, UNICON 1, Keele University, 1980, LUCON 1, Leeds University, 1988; IBM Heathrow Conference, ‘Science and Paradox’, 1987; Orkney & Caithness Science Festival, 1991; Edinburgh International Science Festival, 1996; British Rocketry Oral History Conferences, later UK Space Conference, Charterhouse, 2000-2007; Scottish Power Planetarium, Glasgow Science Centre, October 2003 and February 2004; American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Hypersonics Conference, Strathclyde University, July 2015; MENSA UK Annual Conference, Glasgow, September 2015; lectures for Astronomy Ireland, Trinity College, Dublin, October 2019.


For practical reasons Linda and I now travel together and try to avoid travelling at night. Linda helps me by selecting the images for projection as I’m speaking. So while willing and able to travel and give talks to astronomy societies and other groups, for journeys away from Troon and its immediate surroundings we would require travel expenses for us both, and overnight bed and breakfast accommodation.



Below is a list of talks available. Other talks can be prepared on request.



1.  "The Stones and the Stars" (book). A Stone Circle for Glasgow.   Planning and building the Sighthill megalith, the first astronomically aligned stone circle in Britain for at least 3000 years, with  solar and lunar observations made there since, and the current plans for its recreation following the removal of the stones in 2016 for redevelopment of the area.


2.  Archaeoastronomy from the Air - 1982 aerial archaeology flight organised and navigated by DL, mostly over astronomical sites. 


3.  Ancient Astronomy – Europe, China, Australia, Egypt, Central America and the UK.   (Talks 1, 2 and 3 can be combined as required.)


4.  Earth, Sun and Moon.


5.  The Sun and the Planets. 


6.  "New Worlds for Old" (book updated).   The new look of the Solar System - artwork and photos.  


7.  "Man and the Planets" (book updated).   The resources of the Solar System.  


8.  The Politics of Survival.   Using space technology to protect life on Earth.  


9.  Waverider.   The man-carrying vehicle for the British space programme cancelled by Harold Macmillan, developed with low-speed flight tests and future applications proposals, flown by NASA and the US Air Force;  new concepts and long-term prospects.  


10.  Flight in Non-terrestrial Atmospheres  (the Hang-Glider’s Guide to the Galaxy).   Aircraft for Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Titan and imaginary earthlike worlds.  


11.  Earth and Sun - the Sun and its effects on Earth.


12.  Probes to the Sun.  


13.  Mercury.


14.  Venus.


15.  Venus:  Life in the Clouds?


16.  Earth – an introduction.


17.  The Earth from Space – long distance views, (A) in chronological order, or (B) in order of increasing distance.


18.  The Earth from Orbit.


19.  The British Isles from Space  (in preparation)..


20.  The Moon – an introduction.


21.  Unmanned Lunar Probes.  All missions to date. 


22.  Manned Lunar Missions.  Project Apollo and the Exploration of the Moon.


23.  Project Apollo – Origins.


24. Project Apollo – Flights.


25. Future manned lunar missions.


26. Mars – an introduction. (in preparation).


27.  Mars Exploration.  All missions to date.


28.  Manned Mars missions.


29.  Mars Terraforming.


30.  The Asteroids.


31.  Keep Watching the Skies!   Impacts and how to stop them.


32. "Incoming Asteroid!" (book) If we knew there would be an impact in 10 years' time, what could we do? What would we do?


33.  Tunguska – the 1908 Event in Fact and Fiction.


34.  The Gas Giants – an Introduction (in preparation).


35.  Jupiter.


36.  Saturn.


37.  Uranus.


38.  Uranus, Neptune and the Kuiper Belt.


39.  Neptune.


40.  Pluto, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.


41.  The Search for the Tenth Planet.


42.  Comets and Meteors.


43.  Planetary engineering and terraforming.   The Sahara, the Moon, Venus, Mars,  Jupiter, Saturn, other earthlike worlds, the future Earth.


44.  The Mythology of the Planets  (in preparation).


45.  Exoplanets.


46.  Observatories in Space.


47.  The Deep Sky.   Stars, nebulae and galaxies.


48.  The Milky Way.


49.  Stars and Nebulae.


50.  Stars and Galaxies.


51.  Nebulae and Galaxies. (in preparation).


52.  Cosmology.  (in preparation).


53. Compass Points in the Sky.   Finding our way around.


54.  Northern Constellations.


55.  The Southern Sky.


56.  US Launch Vehicles.


57.  European Launch Vehicles.


58.  The UK in Space.   Skylark, Black Knight, Blue Streak, Waverider, Ariel, Black Arrow and Prospero, HOTOL, Helen Sharman, Michael Foale, Spaceship One, Tim Peake, Cubesats, Skylon and more.


59.  The Corporal missile at the South Uist Rocket Range, 1959.   A personal account.


60.  Rocket Aircraft.


61.  Eyewitness to History – personal accounts of launches and landings. 


62.  The Russians in Space.


63.  Chinese, Japanese and Indian space programmes.


64.  Manned Spaceflight – an introduction.


65.  Animals in Space.


66.  Project Mercury.


67.  Project Gemini.   


68.  Aspects of Apollo.   Apart from the Moon, what else happened?


69.  Skylab.


70.  The Apollo-Soyuz Rendezvous.


71.  Space Stations.  From early designs to O’Neill habitats.


72.  Project Starseed.   An integrated programme for nuclear waste disposal and space solar power.


73.  Spacesuits.


74.  Space Shuttle Origins.   Early history, the Enterprise and Rockwell artwork.   


75.  Space Shuttle Missions.


76. Applications Satellites.   Weather, communications, navigation, Earth resources, cubesats, space debris.


77.  The Future of Space Flight.  Interplanetary and interstellar travel over the next  30 million years.


78.  Project Daedalus:  The British Interplanetary Society inter­stellar probe study. 


79.  Epsilon Boötis Revisited.   Has the Earth been visited?  Long-Delayed Radio Echoes, Epsilon Boötis, Stone­henge and the Pyra­mids.   Circumstantial evidence from the astronomical alignments.


80.  “Man and the Stars”  (book updated). The Fermi Paradox.   Is interstellar travel possible, and if so, where is everybody?   Inter­plan­etary and Interstellar Propulsion - solar sails, ion-drive, fission and fusion drives, photon drive, interstellar ramscoops and more.


81.  Life on Other Worlds  (in preparation).


82.  The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence  (in preparation).


83.  The Search for Extraterrestrial Technology  (in preparation).


84.  "Children from the Sky" (book). The Green Children of Woolpit.   A mediaeval mystery  (with Sydney Jordan artwork.)   The X-Files in the 12th century?


85.  The Truth about UFOs  (Some of Them).


86.  The History of Astronomy  (in preparation)


87.  The Science in Science Fiction.  Particularly the interactions with space technology and space science.


88.  Spaceships in Science Fiction.  Fictional spaceships, factual counterparts, and vice versa.


89.  Scottish Space Artists.  Ed Buckley, Gavin Roberts, Tom Campbell, Sydney Jordan, Andy Paterson and others.


90.  Truth and 2012.  Why didn’t the world come to an end?


91. Odd Ways into Orbit. Nuclear cannon, railguns, linear accelerators, laser propulsion, space elevators, orbital ring arcs.


92. Sydney Jordan and Jeff Hawke – the world's longest-running science fiction strip cartoon.


93. Gravitational waves – the background to the discovery.


94. Jeff Hawke – the history of the world’s longest-running science fiction comic strip, created and drawn by Sydney Jordan from Dundee, in the later ;Lance McLane’ phase of which DL wrote or contributed to 10 of the stories.





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