Candidate Profile

Astronomy & Space Science
Science - General
Science - Physics
John Maclean is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographical Society as well as being an experienced Science Communicator in the fields of Astronomy and Astrophysics. John is also an award winning Astrophotographer. He has a special interest in Asteroids and Cometary science and is a researcher and member of the UK Meteor Observation Network and was the joint winner of the 2022 RAS group award for Geophysics. He has held roles as Ambassador for NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, Co-ordinator of the Comet Investigation Comittee and is a BBC astronomy correspondent. John served for 25 years in the Royal Air Force filling many roles including Space Communications.

An experienced presenter, John has an engaging and humorous style accompanied by extremely professional graphic and audio presentations.

He is also able to provide "Stargazing" nights on board and can lead Aurora (Northern Lights) expeditions if required.

John will also do Q&A sessions and will provide a unique experience where guests can hold and examine real Moon and Mars rocks as well as other examples of meteorites.

Click here to visit the Exeter Observatory website >>

1. Journey through the Solar System.
A close look at our galactic address, how the Solar System was formed with a close look at the planets. An informative talk illustrated with the latest images of our Solar System and wonderful animations.

2. OMG! We're all going to die (Asteroids, Comets and Meteors)
A scary and humorous talk about the dangers we face from Near Earth Objects. This talk will have you gasping and laughing in equal measure!

3. Nebula, Galaxies and Black Holes
This is a fascinating talk about deep space objects, how they formed, how they evolve and what imapct they have on the Universe. Illustrated with images taken by John and the Hubble telescope.

4. The Apollo Story
The Human race's greatest exploration achievement was begun as a direct answer to Russia's space programme and culminated in 12 human beings walking on the Moon. Since those days we have never ventured beyond Low Earth Orbit. This talk will cover the tragedies and successes of the Apollo program with some insights direct from astronauts who walked on the Moon.

5. Hello? Is anyone out there? ( Aliens and Exoplanets)
The first question astronomers are asked is, "do you believe in aliens?" In this fun but enlightening talk we look at the possibilities of life in the Universe and the way aliens have been imagined by Hollywood and others. Be prepared for some intriguing questions and sensible answers with a large lump of "tongue in cheek."

6. Women in Astronomy
Why are women under-represented in the world of astronomy? This is the story of some of the women who shaped our knowledge of the Universe and how they have largely been ignored!

Stars, the source of life in the Universe. How they are made, how they work and the role they played in making us what we are. A stunning talk illustrated with fabulous images and videos from Solar satellites and ground based observatories.

8. BANG! There goes the Universe.
The history of the Universe from beginning to end in just 45 minutes! What do we know about the birth of the Universe, how it expanded and evolved and how it will end. Learn bout Einsteins "greatest blunder" and the men and women who discovered the secrets our existence.

9. Celestial Lights! - Aurora
A beautifully illustrated talk (images by aurora expert Andy Green) about the phenomena known as the "Celestial Lights". We will explore the source of these colourful, dancing lights and the mythology attributed to them as well as looking at how the aurora is driven by Space Weather.

10. Southern Skies - Australia and New Zealand
This talk examines what is available to see in the Southern Hemisphere and compares those skies with those in the North. How do we navigate in the Southern Hemisphere and why is there no "Man in the Moon?" What part did Aboriginal astronomy play in the building of Australia's highways and the mythology behind the Southern stars.

11. Southern Skies - South America
This talk examines what is available to see in the Southern Hemisphere and compares those skies with those in the North. How do we navigate in the Southern Hemisphere and why is there no "Man in the Moon?" Discover how the Inca and Andean indigenous peoples viewed the nights sky and its importance as an agricultural calender and why they revered the "dark constellations".

12. Southern Skies - South Pacific and Polynesia
This talk examines what is available to see in the Southern Hemisphere and compares those skies with those in the North. How do we navigate in the Southern Hemisphere and why is there no "Man in the Moon?" Discover how the Polynesian indigenous people used the Star Compass to navigate the Polynesian Triangle and discoverd Hawaii.

In this talk we look at how the Viking explorers used the Sun and the night sky to free themselves from coastal waters. We will examine the Norse constellations and the myths attached to them. We will also look at how the Viking used the legendary “Sunstones” to navigate.

14. “Standing on the shoulders of giants.”
In this talk we look at some of the greatest characters in the history of science including, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Isaac Newton. We will explore their trials and tribulations, their successes and failures and the impact they had on the Universe and, of course, the human race.

15.OSIRIS-Rex - A journey to Bennu
As Mission Ambassador, John will take you through the complete mission from inception to
completion, highlighting the key moments and the exciting moments that have already happened and those yet to come. This is a chance to get an insiders perspective of a real NASA space mission to fly to an asteroid and return with a sample from the birth of the Solar System.

16. Inuit Astronomy - How the Inuit people saw the night sky.
We look at the myth, legend and facts behind the cultural astronomy of the indigeneous peoples of Alska and the far North. We will discover the Inuit stories of creation and how they named the stars and constellations they observed in their travels across the ice of the Arctic.

17. "The Islamic Golden Age of Astronomy".
Discovering how Islamic astronomers in the 8th century and over 600 years, understood the night sky, developed astronomical "computers", translated and corrected ancient texts and pursued science while Europe and the West descended into the Dark Ages.

18. Constellations - The stories in the night sky.
How the shapes in the night sky influenced human kind. The myth and magic of the constellations and how they were important to ancient and modern civilizations.

19. Fireball! - The Winchcombe Meteorite Story
On February 28th 2021 a huge fireball blazed across the skies of the United Kingdom. This is the story of how the meteor that caused the fireball was detected, tracked and resulted in a very rare and scientifically important “Rock from Space” being recovered. We look at the details of the find and the subsequent analysis of this rare visitor from space.The inside story from a member of the team

20. Caribbean Archeoastronomy -Taino and Carib Cosmology
The story of the early cosmology of the Taino and Carib inhabitants of the Caribbean islands. How they saw the night sky and the stories they developed to explain the Cosmos. This is an interesting look at how ancient peoples made sense of the night sky and how they used the Sun, Moon and stars in their early culture.

21. The Star of Bethlehem - Unravelling the mystery.
The Three Wise Men are said to have followed "The Star of Bethlehem" in order to find the newly born Messiah, Jesus, but was this star real? Was it actually a star or another celestial phenomenen? How we can use modern astronomy techniques to answer the question and decide what the Wise men saw.

22. Wonders of the Cosmos
Discover the secrets of the cosmos and explore the wonders that the Universe holds.What is dark matter and dark Energy? How did the first stars form? What is a Kilonova and just what does the Universe smell and taste like?

Live stargazing nights on deck.

Q& A sessions complete with "hands on" meteorite displays including Moon and Mars rocks.
Viking Resident Astronomer (VRA)

Regular Royal Astronomical Society Guest Speaker on Cunard line.

P&O Guest speaker/Astronomer/Northern Lights expert

SAGA Guest Astronomer (Celestial Canaries)/ Northern Lights expert.

Fred Olsen



Marella Cruises Guest Astronomer/speaker
John Maclean served for 25 years in the UK Military and has travelled extensively including the Antarctic. He has his own, fully robotic observatory used for imaging planets, deep sky objects and studying the Sun. In 2022, John was the Joint winner of the RAS prize for geophysics.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Jupiter JU240609 Italian Sojourn 7 Civitavecchia (for Rome) Sunday, June 9, 2024
Viking Jupiter JU240602 Iconic Western Mediterranean 7 Barcelona Sunday, June 2, 2024
Viking Jupiter JU240526 Iconic Western Mediterranean 7 Civitavecchia (for Rome) Sunday, May 26, 2024
Viking Orion OR240409 Far Eastern Horizons 14 Hong Kong Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Viking Orion OR240326 South East Asia & Hong Kong 14 Bangkok (from Laem Chabang) Thursday, March 28, 2024
Viking Orion OR240314 Bangkok, Bali & Beyond 12 Bali Thursday, March 14, 2024
Viking Jupiter JU230403 Trades Routes of the Middle Ages 14 Barcelona Monday, April 3, 2023
Viking Jupiter JU220706 Iceland's Majestic Landscapes 12 Bergen Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU220622 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU220612 Scenic Scandinavia 10 Copenhagen Sunday, June 12, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU220602 Scenic Scandinavia 10 Stockholm Thursday, June 2, 2022
Viking Jupiter JU210907 Iceland's Natural Beauty 7 Reykjavik Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Viking Orion OR190814 North Pacific Passage 22 Vancouver Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Queen Mary 2 M905 Far East Roundtrip Sector 14 Hong Kong Monday, February 18, 2019
Queen Mary 2 M702-715 World Cruise 2017 118 Southampton Tuesday, January 10, 2017