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

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At my desk in ESO ePOD. Credit: Christoph Malin

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

Name Tim’s mission

human spaceflight, science communication, space exploration

timpeakeThe European Space Agency (ESA) are seeking entries to name British ESA Astronaut, Tim Peake’s mission.

Full details can be found on the ESA website.

Send your proposal by 10:00 GMT (11:00 BST/12:00 CEST) on 4 April 2014.

In May of last year, Tim Peake was selected to conduct a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and will fly as part of Expedition 46/47 in November 2015. He will become Britain’s first “official” astronaut.

Follow Tim on Twitter @astro_timpeake.

T-7 days until the start of the ESO Ultra HD Expedition

astronomy, science communication

Just 7 days until the ESO Ultra HD expedition begins.

Four world-renowned astrophotographers and ESO Photo Ambassadors will be equipped with the powerful Ultra HD tools of the technological front runners and will embark on the pioneering ESO Ultra HD Expedition that will capture ESO’s three unique observing sites in Chile in all their grandeur.

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

Featured image: This amazing panorama shows the observing platform of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) on Cerro Paranal, in Chile.  Credit: ESO/H.H. Heyer

Report: National Student Space Conference 2014

astronomy, human spaceflight, ISU, science, science communication, SGAC, UKSEDS

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On 1st and 2nd March, space enthusiasts descended on the University of Leicester for the UKSEDS National Student Space Conference 2014. Aimed at UK students, each year the conference is a key opportunity to meet and network with a wide range of people in the space sector from academia to industry, across multiple disciplines. It is also a great time for students from UKSEDS’ various branches to meet together in one place and discuss their activities. This year the event was in its 26th year.

The conference was a real sell-out once again with over 250 delegates* from many UKSEDS branches spanning the width and breadth of the country — from Edinburgh to Kent to Southampton, Exeter, Manchester and Strathclyde. We were also happy to welcome our international friends at SEDS-USA and EUROAVIA once again. We had a great range of talks throughout the weekend from spaceplanes to cubesats, ISS, outreach and education, space biomedicine, astronomy, Mars and beyond.

Highlights included a talk by British ESA Astronaut Major Tim Peake who Skyped in from Houston to talk about his mission alongside the outreach components of his mission, along with Jeremy Curtis (Head of Education and Outreach, UK Space Agency) (See featured image**). There was a good chance of a Q&A and for delegates to engage with Tim. He revealed how his mission is being prepared and how his food and drinks will be sent up in advance, sharing his love of Yorkshire Tea. Sheffield SEDS (ShefSEDS) tweeted this, amusingly re-tweeted and replied to by Yorkshire Tea:

It was great to see Tim enjoyed all the questions from the audience.

Our Saturday keynote included Prof. Richard Brown from the Centre for Future Air-Space Transportation Technology, University of Strathclyde who gave a very inspiring talk on ‘Shock Waves and the Design of Future Spacecraft’.

Following this, delegates were invited to a networking reception, kindly sponsored by Reaction Engines Ltd. After which, delegates could attend the UKSEDS social and enjoy a tasty buffet meal and mingle with other delegates.

Sunday morning started with Dr David Parker (CEO, UK Space Agency) who spoke about the latest developments on UK Space activities.

CEO of UK Space Agency, Dr David Parker addressing NSSC2014. Credit: Prof. Chris Welch

Credit: Telespazio Vega DE

Throughout the weekend Telespazio Vega Deutschland demonstrated their Satellite Operations Training simulator, allowing delegates to simulate real in-­orbit satellite operations throughout the conference.

The conference would not have been possible without the kind sponsorship of Reaction Engines, Telespazio VEGA Deutschland, UK Space Agency, HE Space, Printech Circuit Laboratories, Sapienza Consulting, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Royal Aeronautical Society, Serco Group, AstroGnome, International Space University, RAL Space, and Avanti Communications Group plc, and the support of the British Interplanetary Society, ESERO-UK, European Southern Observatory (ESO), ESA Education Office, AstRoSoc Leicester, University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy, Leicester Astronomical Society and EUROAVIA.

Many thanks also to all our wonderful speakers throughout the conference. Presentations will be made available on our conference site at: ukseds.org/nssc2014

If you have any photos from NSSC2014, please share them with us at pr@ukseds.org.

See you in 2015!

*figure includes all exhibitors, speakers and volunteers.
**Featured image: British ESA Astronaut, Tim Peake addressing NSSC2014. Credit: Jane MacArthur
Written by Ryan Laird for UKSEDS.

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