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 2017 Lecture tour.

The RASNZ Lecture Trust Inc. is pleased to announce that the 2017 Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecturer is Dr. Natalie Batalha. The Trust will call for RASNZ affiliated societies to host Dr. Batalha shortly. An email has been sent to the contact address we have for each society soliciting expressions of interest in hosting Dr. Batalha.

The lecture tour will be held during October and will include apperances at the Starlight Festival at Mt Cook village (13-15 October) and a lecture in Christchurch either immediately before or after the Starlight Festival.

Dr. Natalie Batalha is an astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center and the Mission Scientist for NASA's Kepler Mission. She has been involved with the Kepler Mission since the proposal stage and has contributed to many different aspects of the science, from studying the stars themselves to detecting and understanding the planets they harbor. She led the analysis that yielded the discovery in 2011 of Kepler-10b — the mission's first confirmation of a rocky planet outside our solar system. Today, she leads the effort to understand planet populations in the galaxy based on Kepler discoveries. In 2011, Dr. Batalha was awarded a NASA Public Service Medal for her vision in communicating Kepler science to the public and for outstanding leadership in coordinating the Kepler Science Team. In 2015, she joined the leadership team of NASA's Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS). NExSS brings teams from multiple disciplines together to understand the diversity of worlds and will lead NASA's efforts to understand which are most likely to harbor life.

Dr. Batalha's Lecture Title and Synopsis

A Planet for Goldilocks: The Search for Evidence of Life Beyond Earth

"Not too hot, not too cold" begins the prescription for a world that's just right for life as we know it.  Finding evidence of life beyond Earth is one of the primary goals of science agencies around the world thanks in large part to NASA's Kepler Mission which launched in 2009 with the objective of finding Goldilocks planets orbiting other stars like our Sun. The space telescope opened our eyes to the terrestrial-sized planets that populate the galaxy as well as exotic worlds unlike anything that exists in the solar system.  The mission ignited the search for life beyond earth via remote detection of atmospheric biosignatures on exoplanets.  Most recently, our collective imagination was awakened by the discovery of Goldilocks worlds orbiting some of the nearest neighbors to the Sun, turning abstractions into destinations.  Dr. Batalha will give an overview of the science legacy of the Kepler Mission and other key discoveries.  She'll give a preview of what's to come by highlighting the missions soon to launch and those that are concepts taking shape on the drawing board.

Lecture venues and times

  • Auckland October 6
    Lecture theatre OGGB4, Level 0, Owen G Glenn Building, The University of Auckland, 12 Grafton Road.
    Register for this free event at
  • Whangarei October 7
    Tikipunga High School Hall
    Admission: Adults $10, Child $5
  • Gisborne October 9
    War Memorial Theatre -159 Bright Street, Gisborne.
    Admission: Adult $10, Child $5 (under 15)
  • Palmerston North October 10
    Community Leisure Centre, Ferguson Street, Palmerston North
    Gold coin admission
  • Christchurch October 11
    Lecture Theatre A1, Canterbury University, Ilam
    No admission charge
  • Invercargill October 18
    The Ascot Park Hotel
    Admission: Adult & S.I.T Students - $5.00, School Students $2.00
  • Dunedin October 19
    Hutton Theatre (Otago Museum).
    No admission charge

Previous Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecturers

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".