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.

World Space Week – Call for Action!

astronomy, BIS, science, space exploration, UKSEDS, UNCOPUOS

“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”

UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999

Register your event!

wsw-logo-color-wsw-text_dates_white_backgroundUKSEDS are working with the British Interplanetary Society who are UK National Coordinators for World Space Week.

Holding a space event between 4-10 October? Register your events here!
For further information: worldspaceweek@bis-space.com

Mars_Earth_small“Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth”

World Space Week 2013 is all about what many consider the Next Frontier: the planet Mars. Humanity is quickly conquering this new frontier. Mars Curiosity is the largest rover ever brought to another planet, discovering new features of the Red Planet every day. Read here.

Mars-Picture-for-WSW-2013-300x117Call for Action!

Help us make this the biggest World Space Week yet!

What better way to start the week than with the Mars Society UK annual conference, on Sat 5th October at the National Space Centre, Leicester?

bis80The British Interplanetary Society South West Group will be holding lectures at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute.

The British Interplanetary Society will be finishing World Space Week in style by celebrating its 80th birthday on Saturday 12th October in Liverpool.

Run your own event! There are lots of great FREE resources to inspire you and help your ideas take off.

Posted also to ukseds.org (as Secretary)

Sir Patrick’s Picnic

astronomy, BIS, SGAC, travel, UKSEDS

It was a great privilege once again to attend Sir Patrick Moore’s picnic at his home at Farthings in Selsey, West Sussex, along with the British Interplanetary Society.

The entrance gate to Sir Patrick Moore’s home.

For my international friends and audience, Sir Patrick Moore is a British amateur astronomer who has attained prominent status in astronomy as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter, and is credited as having done more than any other person to raise the profile of astronomy among the British general public.

Left to right: Me, Jane MacArthur (fellow SGAC UK NPoC), Richard Painter (UKSEDS Project Officer), Nancy Hine (UKSEDS Vice-Chair). Below: Sir Patrick Moore.

Many thanks go to the British Interplanetary Society for organising this. It was fantastic the weather held off and was particularly warm – great weather for a picnic.

See my complete photos on the UKSEDS Facebook page, here.

Yuri’s Night – First Orbit

astronomy, BIS, film

Last night, I joined the British Interplanetary Society for their Yuri’s Night, celebrating 51 years since Gagarin’s flight. I highly recommend watching this film, First Orbit, which was screened there and introduced by the film’s producer/director Chris Riley and the film’s editor Stephen Slater.  When a new windowed cupola was added to the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2010 it got Chris thinking. “I began to wonder if we could film a new view of what Gagarin would have seen fifty years ago,” he recalls. It was quite fascinating to hear how they tried to capture orbital elements of the ISS which would achieve the same “sort” of track and view Gagarin would have seen, along with the time of day – a very difficult feat. To do this, a combination of mathematics, orbital mechanics an the help of a friendly astronaut was required.

After a brief test shoot in November 2010, conducted by NASA’s expedition 25 astronaut Doug Wheelock, European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli filmed most of the footage for the project in late December 2010 and early January 2011, showing the Earth as Gagarin would have seen it almost exactly fifty years before. Thankfully Paolo was up for the challenge while he was in space. Despite apparently not cleaning the cupola window enough, I think he did a very good job!

The film fought to obtain the original radio communication recordings between Yuri Gagarin (code name “Cedar”), Sergei Korolev (code name “Sunset-1) and ground control during his flight, with mixed radio reports from radio reports from Russia’s Radio Moscow and the BBC. This audio is laid on top of filmed footage of the Earth shot from the ISS. From the moment of launch when Gagarin shouts “Поехали!” (“Lets go!”), it is fascinating to hear his experiences throughout much of his flight. See the trailer for the documentary here:

Watching First Orbit you realise how very small we really are on this blue marble of ours and how very thin our atmosphere appears from orbit; the strange and wonderful phenomena in orbit, the features on the surface, the glorious stars in the dark of night – the list is endless.  It all makes you realise how precious our planet is; how when you step back that far from Earth, why we should continue to abuse and destroy the beauty of our beloved planet.

I felt compelled to “tweet” Paolo (@astro_paolo), to congratulate him on his filming. Had he not agreed to do this, I might not have sat there watching what he watched, what Yuri may have watched, to be sharing this moment with them. In fact, if you want to meet the astronaut, Paolo Nespoli, who filmed most of this footage and have a free weekend, he will be giving a talk in London at the Royal Aeronautical Society on Sat 28th April.  It is free and open to all but you need to reserve a place (here). I hope to go along and ask him about his experiences in orbit and about his filming of First Orbit.

For all the great accomplishments we achieved, for all the great science we do and the technological advancements we have made, we should never take for granted what an incredible human experience exploration really is, and what a huge risk Yuri took that day, 51 years ago, taking the human race that step further than ever before.

I was told of a book called “Starman”, a book all about Yuri Gagarin. I hope to search this out. Apparently the bits of radio contact are in the book. Gagarin’s quotes are perhaps less well-known as the Apollo astronauts, but I thought I would leave you with this:

“Облетев Землю в корабле-спутнике, я увидел, как прекрасна наша планета. Люди, будем хранить и приумножать эту красоту, а не разрушать её!”

Or if you don’t understand Russian…. ;p

“Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!”

Such beautiful words from an inspiring man.