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.

First Ring System Around Asteroid

astronomy, communication, science, science communication

After a media advisory announced yesterday that ESO would “announce a discovery in the outer solar system” the strict embargo has finally been lifted to announce the discovery of the first ring system around an asteroid — the minor planet Chariklo was discovered to have two rings. I co-wrote the ESOcast. Here’s the Nature paper from which it was based.

At ESO, I am really enjoying working with a team of professional science communicators for the preparation of science news, press releases and video scripts, among other publication content. The following has been several weeks in the making.

I’m happy to have experienced the full process of seeing a research paper and the drafting of a science release, taking it to a video script. Over a month ago, I then got to travel to a small town, south of Munich called Tegernsee to see how these video casts are recorded behind a green screen.

Now, after lots of truly amazing work by our animation and graphics team and after helping bring the finishing touches (final editing, retrofitting the script and uploading to DotsUB for translations), the ESOcast I co-wrote has finally been released.

Here’s the announcement of the release of the ESOcast which can be viewed on YouTube, as seen below:

The ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest news and research from ESO — the European Southern Observatory. Subscribe to the video podcast now to keep up with the latest news from ESO: the ESOcast is available via iTunes in HD and SD. It’s also available on YouTube ,Vimeo and dotSUB and is offered for download in several formats.

Featured image:  Artist’s impression of how the rings might look from close to the surface of Chariklo. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)

Life at ESO

astronomy, communication, science, science communication

I can’t quite believe I am fast approaching my fourth month at the European Southern Observatory (ESO). It has been an incredible experience here as I have got to work hands-on within the Education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) – responsible for the organisation’s outreach activities.

ePOD is a fun and creative environment to work in and ESO Headquarters is an energetic place, rich with a number of enthusiastic staff and students from all over the world.

Here I am working with a team of professional science communicators for the preparation of ESO and ESA/Hubble news and photo releases, publications, web pages, video scripts, exhibition panels and other public communication products.

I find it is a great atmosphere here. Each morning I take the U-Bahn (underground train) to Garching Forschungszentrum – the stop for the “research centre”. With unlimited free coffee in the morning, it is a great fuel for the wonderful activities and challenges that come our way.

Later today I hope to show you an ESOcast I co-wrote. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement.

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A 360-degree panorama of the entrance hall at ESO Headquarters, in Garching, near Munich, Germany. Credit: ESO/H. Heyer

News board at ESO

News board at ESO

office_ESO

At my desk in ESO ePOD. Credit: Christoph Malin

Featured image – The ESO Headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany. Credit: ESO

A few weeks ago, I got to travel to a small town south of Munich called Tegernsee, located on the shore of Tegernsee lake close to the Alps. Here is home to the studio used by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) at Perix Media to record both the ESOcast and Hubblecast.

Part of my job as journalist, science communication intern at ESO is to prepare video scripts for these video casts. This recording was for Hubblecast 72 (released 4th March) and for ESOcast 64 (to be released at the start of April).  My colleague, Nikita Marwaha wrote the former and I wrote the latter.

Here are a few photos from behind the scenes:

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Colleague and fellow intern, Nikita Marwaha posing on the green screen. View from the camera.

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Me on the green screen, trying out the script.

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Me on green screen. View from the camera screen.

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Dr J a.k.a. Dr Joe Liske on green screen during recording of Hubblecast 72.

Hubblecast 72 can now be viewed on YouTube or via spacetelescope.org. Stay tuned for ESOcast 64.

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astronomy, communication, science, science communication

Time for a Refresh – My New-Look Website

communication, travel, update

Every so often, I feel, it is time for a refresh.

I started out with a blog with Google Blogspot back in about 2009, when I was selected as the UK Student Representative for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009). I attended the Opening Ceremony in Paris at the start of that year and later I went to Krakow, Poland, for the International Conference of Young Astronomers (ICYA) 2009.

In the aim to be more professional, I then updated to more of a website with Freewebs which contained some of my work, as I wrote less for my blog. I sought to incorporate more of my work and interests. I imported my old posts to this site and would write the occasional post here and there when on my travels.

I am more of a social media “microblogger” these days, using Twitter among other sites. Various sites such as LinkedIn allow you to update your professional work, Facebook is good to share updates with friends and Twitter is a nice medium, I find, for general interests. In recent months I have slowly been incorporating these onto my site, which you see today. Maintaining my blog alongside, I have tended to find quite tricky.

Why the recent change?

My aim is for my website to be more visual and for my blog posts to be less text heavy. These past number of years I have been travelling a lot, taking in new experiences and learning much along the way. I really enjoy photography and own a Canon EOS 1100D DSLR. I frequently take images and I think I can maintain blog posts more easily in this new format. This is an interest I really want to build on as well.

I am also seeking to incorporate more of my professional work and am taking on more of a professional look website, alongside my interests and travel. My main interest, astronomy, is also a very visual subject. I aim to communicate this more effectively using a visual theme.

My main area of work is in science communication, as I am working as a journalist, science communication intern at the European Southern Observatory. Before that I was at UNAWE and I currently support activities in UKSEDS and SGAC, among others. My aim is to turn my site into a more user-friendly, visual experience with better updated content. You can see featured content more clearly as you enter the site.

To the left sidebar you will see my main activities, according to category of my latest blog posts. The top menu still contains my usual activities, publications, CV etc. which I am currently updating and reorganising in line with my latest work.

You can see I have also added RSS feeds for ESOcast and HubbleCast, which I am currently working on at ESO. You will also find the latest couple of Space Scoops from the UNAWE site in an RSS feed, which you can find at the bottom left-hand side. I also maintain featured content on Portal to the Universe, which you will also find in an RSS feed, to the bottom of my new-look website.

A couple of years or so ago, I upgraded to WordPress, which has also undergone several changes throughout the years. The themes they offer now, in my view are some of the best free ones available on the internet. I am really happy with WordPress’ latest update. I hope to bring you more visual content while on my travels here, working in Munich at ESO and much more.