Beatrice Hill Tinsley in 1977

Beatrice Hill Tinsley in 1977

Beatrice Hill Tinsley was a Professor of Astronomy at Yale University when she died, aged 40, of melanoma in 1981. Until she came on the scene, people believed that galaxies were fixed, immobile and unchanging in the universe. She discovered (among many other things) that galaxies are both changing and interacting with one another. She proved that the universe is still evolving.

Born in England, her family came to New Zealand when she was 5. She was educated first in New Plymouth and then at the University of Canterbury. In 1961 she married Brian Tinsley. In 1963 they travelled to the USA, where they remained

Beatrice was celebrated for her work as a synthesiser, the bringing together of apparently unrelated and individual scraps and strands of knowledge and theory, to help create a whole.

These Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lectures are our way of celebrating the life and work of this extraordinarily appealing and altogether remarkable young woman.

The Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lectures are administered by the RASNZ Lecture Trust who may be contacted by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Beatrice Hill Tinsley 2018 Lecture tour.

The RASNZ Lecture Trust is pleased to announce that Dr. Paul Groot will be the 2018 BHT lecturer. The Trust will call for RASNZ affiliated societies to host Dr. Groot shortly.

Paul Groot is professor of astronomy at Radboud University, located in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He obtained his PhD in 1999 at the University of Amsterdam, among others on the first detection of optical afterglows from gamma-ray bursts. After a stay at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as a CfA fellow he returned to the Netherlands in 2002 to co-found the Department of Astrophysics at Radboud University. He served as chair of the Department from 2006 - 2016 and as chair of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) from 2012 - 2016. In this role he played a very active role in setting the research and instrumentation strategy for Dutch astronomy. His research is focused on compact binary systems, transients in the Universe and gravitational wave astrophysics. He has a keen interest in astronomical instrumentation, among others as Project Scientist on the VLT X-Shooter spectrograph and Principal Investigator on both the MeerLICHT telescope and the BlackGEM array. He is a member of the Virgo Collaboration for the detection of gravitational wave signals. He is the co-recipient of the 2002 EU Descartes Prize, the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the 2016 Gruber Prize in Cosmology.

Dr. Groot's Lecture Title and Synopsis

Dawn of gravitational wave astronomy

The direct detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO and Virgo laser interferometers has opened a completely new field in astrophysics. The merger events of binary black holes and neutron stars have now been detected. The electromagnetic radiation from one event (GW170817) has also been detected in a world-wide effort by thousands of astronomers. After the current upgrades the LIGO/Virgo detectors will detect a gravitational wave signals at a likely rate of one per week. This amazing development also raises many questions and opens up new opportunities: How do these binary black holes form? Where and when were they formed? How do they link to massive stars? Are they really the production site of gold in the Universe. What is the highest and lowest mass black hole? What are neutron stars made up of? Can we find these events even without gravitational wave signals, by looking at short duration transients in the optical sky?

During the lecture I will give a short overview of the amazing results obtained so far and look ahead to the new possibilities for understanding black holes, neutron stars and the violent Universe.

Previous Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecturers

Dr. Natalie Batalha, astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center and the Mission Scientist for NASA's Kepler Mission

Dr. Batalha gave seven lectures entitled "A Planet for Goldilocks: The Search for Evidence of Life Beyond Earth" discussing the evidence for life beyond Earth using data from the Kepler Mission.

Dr. Michael Person, Research Astronomer in MIT's Planetary Astronomy Laboratory, and Director of MIT's George R. Wallace Astrophysical Observatory.

He gave nine lectures entitled "The Science of Pluto" discussing the history of Pluto science starting with the discovery of Pluto, through the discovery and characterization of its atmosphere and moons, to provide context to the discoveries of 2015. Focusing on his own experiences aboard the SOFIA aircraft, and the New Horizons flyby, he discussed the explosion of Pluto knowledge during 2015/2016, and its context in our understanding of the outer solar system..

Prof. Gerry Gilmore, Professor of Experimental Philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, UK.  His main focus is near-field cosmology. This is the use of precision studies of kinematics, dynamics, stellar populations, chemical abundances, ... for the oldest systems in the local universe to deduce the fundamental properties of structure formation and the nature of dark matter in the early Universe.

He gave five lectures, entitled either "Gaia: mapping the Milky Way from Space", or "Astronomy, Cosmology and the Big Questions in Nature ".
Prof. Tamara Davis, physics honours and post graduate coursework coordinator at the School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland, is a cosmologist interested in investigating new fundamental physics such as the properties of dark energy, dark matter and the mass of the neutrino.

She gave ten lectures; four of which were to school students, entitled either "The Dark Side", or "Cosmological Confusion".
Dr. Karen Masters is an Astronomy researcher at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, UK.  She’s the Project Scientist for Galaxy Zoo, and also involved in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (especially MaNGA).  She’s also a member of the Dark Energy Survey and Euclid.  

She gave five lectures entitled "A Zoo of Galaxies".
Prof. Clive Ruggles, Emeritus Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester, UK.

He gave four lectures entitled "Ancient Astronomies - Ancient Worlds".