A near full-moon (the biggest for the next nineteen years) greeted everybody before the talk by Marek Kukula, the Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, in Greenwich, who gave a captivating explanation of the Universe and its many wonders.
Amazing statistics were revealed about the billions of stars in millions in galaxies, as well as the unimaginable distances that the light travel from distant stars, moving at thousands of miles per second. Light from some particularly distant galaxies, visible in the night-sky, is calculated to have set out when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
Nearer home, Marek showed extraordinary images of the surface of Venus, enveloped in a cloud of gas and with a gravity force that would cruch humans, as well as Mars - a planet with large desert areas and extinct volcanoes resembling similar places on Earth.
He suggested that we are currently embarked on the most fascinating voyage of discovery in history - and that developing the equipment to carry cameras to these planets and then take the pictures was probably Man's greatest achievement. This was starkly illustrated with a remarkable video sequence, using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, which highlighted an initial distant mass of gas before zooming in - and then even further in - until individual stars filled the frame.
More images showed how technology had made it possible to penetrate clouds of gas enveloping various planets and moons, allowing their surfaces and configuration to be viewed for the first time. Other breathtaking sequences, taken a period of years, showed some stars appearing to perform a kind of dance with each other as their orbits changed.
Ultimately, though, Marek said that his favourite planet was Earth and displayed its wondrous range of environments, before showing a satellite image highlighting its tiny size in the solar system and its extreme fragility, culminating in the inescapable truth, perhaps, that - despite life's peaks and troughs - it is an extraordinary privilege to live on this planet
Over a hundred people attended this fascinating talk, with profits from tickets and wine totalling £625, and it was a wonderful start to the 2011 season.