Hire me!

astronomy, BIS, communication, science, science communication, SGAC, space exploration, UKSEDS, UNAWE

Hello there!

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or my blog, you may already know a bit about me and my activities. I’m currently looking out for possible writing opportunities in science, physics and astronomy. If you’ve reached here and you’re someone looking for pitches, I’d be interested in the types of stories you have the most urgent need to fill!

My name is Ryan Laird, a science communicator from the UK and active #spacetweep. Since the start of January, I have been working as a Science Communication Intern at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) — the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. Based in Garching near Munich, Germany, I am working in ESO’s ePOD (education and Public Outreach Department) with a team of professional science communicators for the preparation of ESO, European Space Agency (ESA)/Hubble Space Telescope and International Astronomical Union (IAU) news and photo releases, publications, web pages, video scripts, exhibition panels and other public communication products. In addition, I have been actively supporting communication regarding the ESO Ultra HD expedition and am a ghostwriter for the UHD blog. I’ve become used to the fast pace dynamic and accuracy as required in this role.

I am a recent Graduate of the International Space University (ISU)‘s Space Studies Programme 2013 (SSP13), where I received generous support from the UK Space Agency and ESA. I am also a graduate of the University of Leicester, UK where obtained the degree of Physics with Astrophysics MPhys (Hons).

I have cherished many different opportunities to apply my skills and knowledge in a variety of areas including UKSEDS, Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), Universe Awareness (UNAWE), ESO and the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), among industry experts, university departments and other research organisations. I have also been actively involved in research and academia, having co-authored in the journal Nature — Snodgrass, C. et al., Nature, 467, 814-816 (2010), among others, gaining experience in the planetary sciences while researching Jupiter Family Comets.

I recently helped support the UNAWE International Office in Leiden, Netherlands where my main role was to expand the concept of Space Scoop (astronomy news for kids) to a diverse range of media platforms and syndicate the content. Here I investigated the best way to improve the syndication and distribution of science content produced for and by children to mainstream children’s media. I also wrote a number of Space Scoop articles and reviews of space content for kids.

Last year I also supported SGAC at their office in Vienna, Austria at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI). There I supported SGAC’s network of over 4000 members across more than 90 countries. In this capacity, I helped organise the Space Generation Fusion Forum, preparing and editing the SGAC Annual Report, supporting general operations, web content and administration.

I also regularly write for the British Interplanetary Society‘s magazine, Spaceflight and as Vice Chair (formerly Secretary), I prepare content for UKSEDS‘ media. In addition, I maintain my own website here at rjmlaird.co.uk where I write some of my own musings in a blog, along with some space news and is where you can find additional information about me and my work.

Together my experiences have provided a me with a great range of expertise, which I’d be keen to use in a capacity to further promote astronomy, space and physics to a much wider audience — subjects very close to my heart. To further acquaint you with the specifics of my background you can view my CV from my website here (also downloadable as a .pdf and viewable on LinkedIn), along with my activities and publications which show some of my writing samples.

Also View Ryan Laird's profile on LinkedIn is where you can see some recommendations on my work. Most recently my Head of Department  (ePOD) here at ESO, Lars Lindberg Christensen, wrote me a reference downloadable here as .pdf. I am happy to provide further references if needed.

Do please get in touch if you know of or have any opportunities available.

First Results from ESO Ultra HD Expedition

astronomy, science communication

As a science communication intern in ESO’s  Education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD), I am involved at the heart of the outreach activities for this revolutionary ESO Ultra HD Expedition into the “Ultra High Definition Universe”. It has been great to be a small part of the expedition from the very start, throughout the expedition itself and now, the huge amount of UHD content being worked on currently. The first results from the expedition have now been released (see announcement for further details). 

A huge amount of content (over 120GB!) has been released freely to the public for usage under a very liberal licensing model.  ESO is perhaps the first scientific organisation to deliver free Ultra HD content which it aims to now do on a regular basis. This includes UHD footage suitable for planetarium shows  footage which will be used in thESO Supernova facility from 2017.

You can follow the ESO Ultra HD expedition on the ESOultraHD blog and on Twitter at #ESOultraHD.

Featured image credit: ESO/B. Tafreshi

Support ‘Universe in a Box’

astronomy, communication, IYA, science, science communication, UNAWE

At the end of last year, I helped support Universe Awareness (UNAWE). Unfortunately my time there at Leiden University was so very short. My main role was to help expand the concept of Space Scoop – astronomy news for kids – exploring the different popular news channels that are available for children and how science can have a higher presence in them.

UNAWE is an international programme that uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire children aged 4-10 years, particularly those from an underprivileged background. The programme uses astronomy to cultivate a sense of perspective, foster a global citizenship and stimulate interest in science at a crucial age in a child’s development.

This week UNAWE launched an innovative Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to support their efforts in sharing the educational toolkit, Universe in a Box, with underprivileged communities around the world. 

The Kickstarter campaign runs from 9 May until 10 June and aims to raise €15,000:


You can try out and look through the activities online here.

Featured image credit: UNAWE

Last Chance to See Hadfield’s ‘Space Oddity’ Video

human spaceflight, science communication, space exploration

I’m gutted to read that former Canadian astronaut, Cmdr Chris Hadfield tweeted earlier today that his famous ‘Space Oddity’ video will be taken down later.  It seems David Bowie gave permission for the content to be online for a year, which comes to an end today.

Captured during Hadfield’s five months on board the International Space Station (ISS) during Expedition 34/35 (the latter for which he was commander), the astronaut was an inspiration to the world as the video has gathered over 22 million views on YouTube.

I’m very much enjoying reaching his book he released upon his return to Earth – “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”. It’s a pity I got to miss his book tour in the UK last December but I am hoping to see him this weekend in Munich.

Featured image above: Canadian astronaut, Cmdr Chris Hadfield in a screen shot from his video “Space Oddity” recorded on the ISS.

The Great British Space Dinner

human spaceflight, science communication

The UK Space Agency has launched a competition for school children between the ages of 7 and 14 to design a British-inspired, balanced and exciting meal for British ESA astronaut Tim Peake to eat during his 6 month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The winning contestants will be invited to develop their ideas further with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, and these ideas will be turned into real space food that will be launched to the ISS. They will also be invited to an event that will include a live link up with Tim during his stay on the ISS.

For further information click here

Featured Image Credit: UK Space Agency

 

Bitte Zurückbleiben!

science, travel

Each morning I take the U-bahn (underground) from my current home in Garching to Garching Forschungszentrum (research centre) as I head to work at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). I’ve become familiar with the sound of the U-bahn: “Bitte Zurückbleiben!” (Please stand back!) as the doors of the train close.

The centre is also home to many other top scientific organisations. With more than 6,000 employees and more than 13,000 students, the Garching Forschungszentrum is one of the largest centres for science, research and teaching in Germany. I feel very privileged to be here.

IMG_1527

Garching Forschungszentrum U-bahn sign shows directions to some of the top scientific organisations in the world.

It’s hard to believe I have been here little over three months. I’m enjoying the sites, sounds and tastes of this quiet, little suburban town just outside Munich. As I head to work each morning, it is sometimes hard to resist the temptation of the local bakery.

Krapfen

A type of doughnut common to Germany, known as a “Krapfen” in Bavaria and much of Austria. More commonly known as a “Berliner”.

Pretzel (or "Bretzel" as they are known in Bavaria).

Pretzel (or “Bretzel” as they are known in Bavaria).

Of course, Bavaria is also famed for its beers. I personally prefer the ‘dunkles weißbier’ (or dark wheat beer). Most recently I visited the Hofbräuhaus with the giant one-litre beer jugs with huge bretzels.  Being vegetarian, sometimes choices of food can be quite difficult compared with home, but I have become accustomed to spätzle – a type of egg noodle which is best made with cheese. I first tried this in Austria and is not something you can generally find in the UK.

I’m hoping to make the most of the coming few months by exploring the surrounds of Munich more. I hear there are some wonderful castles. I hope to visit Salzburg and Innsbruck, each only an hour or so away in Austria. Maybe I can also stretch a visit to Switzerland to visit a friend, only a few hours or so away from here. I’m looking forward to the coming months here in central Europe.

ESO Ultra HD Expedition Well Under Way

astronomy, communication, science, science communication

The ESO Ultra HD Expedition is well underway. I feel in a unique and privileged position as a science communication intern in ESO’s  Education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) to be involved at the heart of the outreach activities for this revolutionary expedition into the Ultra High Definition Universe. The European Southern Observatory (ESO) — the world’s most productive astronomical observatory — aims deliver free Ultra HD content to all, from consumer to broadcaster for the first time.

After arriving in Chile last Monday, the team first set out to Paranal, home of the Very Large Telescope array (VLT) — ESO’s flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. From here they have already taken a vast array of truly stunning images which can be seen on the ESO Ultra HD Expedition blog. I preview some below.

One of the Unit Telescopes with the Milky Way illuminating the VLT platform. One of the Auxiliary Telescopes can be seen to its right. Taken during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky

Babak at work on the VLT platform alongside Auxiliary Telescope 3 (AT3) during the ESO Ultra HD Expedition. Credit: ESO/C. Malin (christophmalin.com)

Today they will arrive at ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array.  Located on the Chajnantor Plateau, 5000 metres above sea level, the individual antennas can combine to act together as a giant single telescope.

On the final leg of the expedition, the team will head to La Silla, ESO’s first observatory. Located on the edge of the Atacama Desert, it is 600 kilometres north of Santiago, and 2400 metres above sea level. La Silla is home to the ESO 3.6-metre telescope and the 3.58-metre New Technology Telescope (NTT).

You can follow the ESO Ultra HD expedition on the ESOultraHD blog and on Twitter at #ESOultraHD.

Featured image above: A panoramic shot of the VLT platform with the red shades of airglow visible overhead. Credit: ESO/Y. Beletsky. For the full image visit the ESO website here.