The Most Ancient Heavens

So here I am, in that London, getting ready for the start of a two-day conference at the Royal Astronomical Society on cosmology, large-scale structure, and weak gravitational lensing, to celebrate the work of Professor Alan Heavens, on (or near) the occasion of his 60th birthday. Yes, it is a great name for an astronomer.

I was honoured to be invited to give a talk at this meeting, though my immediate reaction when I was told about was `But he can’t be sixty! He’s only a few years older than me…oh.’ I gather I’m supposed to say something funny after the conference dinner tomorrow night too.

Courtesy of alphabetical order it looks like I’m top of the bill!

Anyway, I’ve known Alan since I was a research student, i.e. over thirty years, and we’re co-authors on 13 papers (all of them since 2011). I’m looking forward to the HeavensFest not only for the scientific programme (which looks excellent) but also for the purpose of celebrating an old friend and colleague.

Just to clear up a couple of artistic points.

First, the title of the meeting, The Most Ancient Heavens, is taken from Ode to Duty by William Wordsworth.

Second, the image on the conference programme shown above is a pastiche of The Creation of Alan Adam which is part of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known to his friends as Michelangelo. Apparently he worked flat out painting this enormous fresco. It was agony but the ecstasy kept him going. I’ve often wondered (a) who did the floor of the Sistine Chapel and (b) how could Michelangelo create such great art when it was so clearly extremely cold? Anyway, I think that is a picture of Alan at high redshift on the far right, next to the man with beard who at least had the good sense to wear a nightie to spare his embarrassment.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I must be going. Time for a stroll down to Piccadilly.

Update: you can find a bunch of pictures of this conference here.

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8 Responses to “The Most Ancient Heavens”

  1. Dear Telescoper,
    Are you staying on for the Peoples March on Saturday?

  2. “how could Michelangelo create such great art when it was so clearly extremely cold”

    The Renaissance artists started portraying humans more realistically than in the centuries previous, but obviously not in this area. Blame it on the Ancient Greek preference for (pre-)pubescent youths. Even muscular types such as David (also by Michelangelo) come up very short. Yes, David’s hand is also too large, but mostly it just looks large in comparison.

  3. “Yes, it is a great name for an astronomer.”

    And Wordsworth is a great name for a poet, as Thomas Crapper said on his way to work.

  4. […] I attended a meeting recently quite a few people expressed concern about my health given that I turned up with a walking-stick. […]

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