café scientifique


Next meeting:
Monday 12th December 2016

William Gascoigne (1612-44),
Leeds Astronomer

or “How a Spider put Leeds at the Forefront of the Scientific Revolution”
By David Sellers


William Gascoigne (1612-44) of Middleton, Leeds, was first inventor of the telescopic sight and micrometer—instruments crucial to the advance of astronomy. He was killed during the English Civil War at the Battle of Marston Moor. His name is now known to historians of science around the world, but for some considerable time after his tragic death at the age of 32, it seemed as if his achievements would be consigned to oblivion. Most of his papers were lost in the maelstrom of war and the few that seemed to have survived later disappeared. This is the story of how his work was rescued and how it came to be central to the rise of modern precision astronomy and the progress of science … Oh, yes, and how it was all due to a serendipitous spider!


David Sellers is a civil engineer by training and before retirement was the Flood Risk Manager of Leeds City Council. He is also a historian of astronomy and has authored or co-authored several books on the subject. He is vice-Chair of the UK-based Society for the History of Astronomy. His book In Search of William Gascoigne: seventeenth century astronomer (New York, 2012) is the only book devoted to the tragically short life of Gascoigne, his invention of the telescopic sight and micrometer, and the turbulent times in which he lived. David is currently writing a biography of the Victorian astronomer and educationalist, Charles Thomas Whitmell, who lived for a time in Leeds.


Coming soon:

Monday 12th December 2016
“William Gascoigne – Leeds Astronomer at the Forefront of the Scientific Revolution”
By David Sellers

Monday 9th January 2017
“Mending Broken Hearts”
By John Greenwood

Monday 13th February 2017
“Ouch! Does that hurt? The Peculriaties of Pain …”
By Mark Johnson

Monday 13th March 2017
“Science Fiction in the Media”
By Robert Shail
(part of and in conjunction with
Headingley Literature Festival)

About Café Scientifique

Café Scientifique is a place where people can meet to hear eminent speakers on all things scientific. The events are extremely popular with lively discussion and informative talks. Topics are always relevant, cutting edge and up-to-date. They are often taken from a wider global discussion.

All are welcome. The Café is held at The New Headingley Club on St Michael’s Road.

For information on topics please check back here for updates or for more information see the e-newsletter or the HDT newsletter.

To be added to the Café Scientifique mailing list please contact: or fill out the online form opposite.



Monday 11th January 2016
“Imaging Positrons Inside the Human Body”
By Charalampos Tsoumpas

Monday 8th February 2016
“From Dark Satanic Mills to DNA: the Scientific Heritage of Leeds and how it Changed the World”
By Kersten Hall

Monday 14th March 2016
“The Worst of Times:
How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions”
By Paul Wignall

Monday 11th April 2016
“Monster Magnets: Stellar Birth Control”
By Sven Van Loo

Monday 9th May 2016
“Ask for Evidence”
By Danae Dodge

Monday 13th June 2016
“Herding Hemingway’s Cats: how do genes work?”
By Kate Arney

Monday 11th July 2016
“Climate Change & Rocky Coasts”
By Sue Hull

Monday 12th September 2016
“The Mobility Transformation”
By John Whitelegg

Monday 10th October 2016
“Growing Mini-Brains to Help Understand Cancer”
By Ryan Mathew

Monday 14th November 2016
“Neutrino Astronomy”
By Alan Watson


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additional info

7:30pm – 9:30pm

New Headingley Club
56 St Michael’s Road
Tel: 0113 2757712 (for info. on venue)

Entry £3

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