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.

Wimbledon final – Murray vs Djokovic

ISU, update

On Sunday afternoon, we visited what has become our local Irish “watering hole” in Strasbourg, The Dubliners. They show most British sports and they have a great atmosphere both inside and out. We went there to watch the Wimbledon men’s singles final between Andy Murray (UK) and Novak Djokovic (Serbia).

Our local Irish "watering hole", The Dubliners.

Our local Irish “watering hole”, The Dubliners.

It was a tough match between the two players. Djokovic sure gave Murray a run for his money. Each set was more close than the next.

Fellow Brits (plus a Canadian and Portuguese) cheering on Andy Murray.

Fellow Brits (plus a Canadian and Portuguese) cheering on Andy Murray.

With sets 2-0 to Murray, he only needed one more set to beat Djokovic. At 5 games to 4 (5-4) and at deuce (40-40) there was every chance Djokovic would win the game and go on to take the set to make it 2-1 in sets. All Murray needed was this competition point. As the game went it it took four deuces to secure Andy Murray the set, game and match.

Score in final game.

Score in final game.

Andy Murray became the first Briton to win at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936; some 77 years.

See the BBC article ” Andy Murray beats Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon”: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/tennis/23217393 [accessed 9th July, 2013]

Welcome to my new look site.


Hi everyone,

Welcome to my new look site. I’m in the middle of transitioning from my old site, http://ryanlaird.webs.com/. I’m getting used to the feel of WordPress here, so much so that I’ve bought the rights to my own domain name here.

I plan to update the pages in the coming months. A lot of the material on FreeWebs became rather old and outdated. I prefer the look of this site and WordPress seems to be cleaner and easier to manage (in my opinion).

I’ve broken down my site into similar pages as before, but I am transitioning it to be more professional-looking:
About Me– will contain some basic information about me, my interests etc., which will bring together some of the other pages and explain how I got into astronomy and my other interests I will talk about on these pages.

Research – This will explain briefly the work I do currently as well as my past research experience.

Teaching – This will note what modules I teach and link to web pages which may be of relevance to my students.

Publications – A given. A list of my publications.

Outreach – I will talk about the outreach I have been involved in, the talks I give and my current involvement here at the University of Kent.

Amateur Astronomy – Where I am pursuing a professional career in astronomy, I still enjoy the amateur side. I own some equipment and on occasion take my own astronomical images. I own two telescopes and have the opportunity to make use of the University of Kent Space Soc’s telescope.

IYA 2009 – I was actively involved throughout the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). I was honoured to be selected by the Royal Astronomical Society as the UK Student Representative for the Opening Ceremony of IYA2009 at UNESCO in Paris, France.

CfDS – I have some involvement with the British Astronomical Society’s Campaign for Dark Skies (BAA CfDS). I am currently helping support their Twitter (@cfds_uk) and Facebook (“Campaign for Dark Skies“) accounts. We are also in the process of updating the main BAA CfDS page.

UKSEDS – I have recently been elected as Secretary of UKSEDS, United Kingdom Students for the Education and Development of Space. I’ll be keeping busy with this over the next year, so do expect to hear frequent updates about this.

CV – I shall make available a copy of my CV here. I’m deciding how best to present this on the page as I have a .pdf copy. My past work and involvements will be fully here.

Contact Me – I will provide the details you can contact me on here.