Institute of Astronomy


The Institute of Astronomy plans to host one large summer conference each year. Below is a list of upcoming and previous meetings at the IoA.

Upcoming & Recent Meetings

PLATO Theory Workshop 2018

3 December 2018 - 5 December 2018

Welcome to the home page of the PLATO Theory meeting 2018, which will be hosted at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge. PLATO was adopted as ESA’s M3 mission in June 2017, and is currently scheduled for launch in 2026. The mission is designed to discover and characterise thousands of extrasolar planets through a combination of space-based transit detections, a ground-based radial velocity follow-up programme and asteroseismic characterisation of the host stars, yielding accurate masses, radii and ages for the detected planetary systems. The unique capabilities of the PLATO mission will allow it to discover and characterise a broad diversity of exoplanets and planetary system architectures, including terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of their stars.
PLATO’s key science goals include understanding the formation and evolution of planetary systems, and this goal will be achieved by using theoretical models of planetary system formation and evolution to interpret the observations. A number of theory Work Packages have been established to provide a focus for the theoretical work that needs to be undertaken in time for the mission launch. The primary purpose of this meeting is to provide an opportunity for members of these work packages to present and discuss recent relevant work, and to plan for future activities. Researchers who are not yet involved in the mission, but who are interested in becoming involved, will also be welcome to attend and present their work.
The plan for this two and half day meeting is to organise the sessions according to the various work packages that comprise the PLATO theory programme focussing on the formation and dynamical evolution of planetary systems. More information about the theory packages can be found here. When registering and submitting a title and abstract for a presentation (oral or poster), it would be useful in you could indicate which work package you wish to be affiliated with for the purpose of organising the sessions. The end of the workshop is scheduled to overlap with the PLATO Week 7 meeting that will be held at the IoA from 5-7 December. Information on previous PLATO Week meetings can be found here.
We look forward to seeing you in Cambridge in December 2018.


Yann Alibert
Melvyn Davies
Oliver Gressel
Tristan Guillot
Anders Johansen
Willy Kley
Jacques Laskar
Christoph Mordasini
Alessandro Morbidelli
Richard Nelson (co chair)
Frank Sohl
Nic Walton
Mark Wyatt (co chair)

Steve Brereton
Richard Nelson
Fatima Rasool
Amanda Smith
Mark Wyatt

Key dates: abstract and registration deadline 2 November 2018

Previous Meetings

The disc migration issue: from protoplanets to supermassive black holes

22 May 2017 - 24 May 2017

Conference rationale

This workshop is motivated by the broad similarities surrounding the theory of disc mediated migration on scales ranging from protoplanetary discs to galactic nuclei. Migration theory thus underpins our understanding of some of the most topical problems in contemporary astrophysics, i.e. the establishment of planetary system `architecture' and the processes driving the merging of black holes.

Dark Energy Survey December collaboration meeting Cambridge 2016

12 December 2016 - 16 December 2016

Welcome to the DES December 2016 collaboration meeting at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge. The meeting will take place from the 12th to the 16th of December 2016.

Meeting Webpage:

Location: Madingley Rise on Google Maps:,0.0927952,15z


Galaxy clusters: physics laboratories and cosmological probes

5 December 2016 - 9 December 2016

Conference Rationale
Galaxy clusters are unique astrophysical laboratories in which the powerful interaction of supermassive black holes with the surrounding intracluster medium, the complex effects of the cluster environment on galaxies, as well as a wide range of non-thermal processes like magnetic field amplification and cosmic ray acceleration can be studied. In addition, clusters form from the largest matter overdensities in the Universe that collapse under their own gravity. Due to their formation from these highest density peaks, clusters provide a large leverage to probe cosmological models. However, to make full use of this potential, the internal structure of clusters and how it affects observational signatures needs to be understood. This meeting will bring together both international experts on this subject and early career researchers to catalyse progress on puzzles like the discrepant cosmology results from galaxy clusters and the primary cosmic microwave background and to help interpretation of a wealth of upcoming, multiwavelength observational programmes, such as eROSITA, Athena, JWST, DESI, Euclid and SPTPol and Advanced ACT.

Kavli ExoFrontiers 2016 Symposium

5 September 2016 - 6 September 2016

Exoplanetary science is on the verge of an unprecedented revolution. With at least four space missions and numerous large ground-based facilities scheduled to become operational in the next decade, the new era promises unprecedented observations of exoplanets - both in their detection as well as in detailed characterization of their atmospheres, interiors, and formation conditions. Concomitant major developments are also expected in all aspects of exoplanetary theory and data interpretation.

Binary Stars in Cambridge 2016

24 July 2016 - 30 July 2016

Now that multiplicity is known to be common among stars and that half the stars in our Galaxy have been or will be altered by interaction with at least one companion, the crucial role of binary star evolution in astrophysics in general has been established. Stellar interactions lead to a veritable zoo of exotic objects, many of which play crucial roles in the Universe. However, our understanding of many of the basic properties of binary stars - how they form, evolve and interact and how they ultimately die - is still incomplete. These issues cannot be ignored in fields of astrophysics spanning stellar cluster evolution, planet formation, galactic chemical evolution, etc. We plan to discuss many of the exciting implications of duplicity among stars.