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.

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)