Archive for Llandudno

Community Matters

Posted in Education, Science Politics with tags , , on April 21, 2011 by telescoper

Well, here I am back in sunny Cardiff after a pleasant journey back from Llandudno and a very enjoyable and productive National Astronomy Meeting. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved at the Royal Astronomical Society in putting the programme together and doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes. The staff at the Venue Cymru in Llandudno were very friendly as well as highly professional and well organised, and everything seems to run exceptionally smoothly.

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the conference dinner on Tuesday night, which ended with a serenade from the magnificent Maelgwyn Male Voice Choir. It was fitting to have the chance to experience a fine Welsh tradition, and I thought they were wonderful to listen to.

Anyway, I might get a bit of time over the Easter break to comment on some things that struck me over the course of the past week but for today – because I’m quite tired after the journey (and several late nights at NAM) – I thought I’d just comment a bit further on the first session I attended, on Monday evening, attended by various representatives of STFC, at which John Womersley gave a presentation about the status of various projects in the existing astronomy programme and prospects for the future. It was clear from that presentation that there are many challenges ahead, but I was relieved that the atmosphere of the meeting wasn’t anything like as confrontational as on many previous occasions. This process of reconciliation will no doubt take futher steps forward when the new Chief Executive takes over next year.

Drinking in the bar much later in the evening with a number of senior figures from diverse branches of astronomy the issue arose of the now notorious petition that George Efstathiou blogged about in a guest post some time ago. Two things are now clear about this initiative. One is that it caused deep ructions within the astronomical community, with a number of senior figures vociferously both for and against it – even within the same department. When I revealed that I had signed it myself, a few of the assembled company expressed their views in forthright language about why I had been wrong, but I have to say without much coherence in the actual logic.

The other thing that emerged during the STFC session was an explicit acknowledgment that the petition had, in one particular respect, made a very big difference, namely that the criteria for the appointment of the next Chief Executive of STFC specifically took into account some of the comments made in it.

Anyway, the point of raising the dreaded petition is not to rake over this whole business but simply to try to put it to rest. We need to move on, and should be trying to heal any wounds that it may inadvertantly have caused. There are definitive signs that the STFC Executive is now really starting to listen, so now there’s a chance to really engage with them through the channels they are opening up rather than having to resort to extreme measures such as George’s petition.

Oh, and I’ll just remind anyone who is interested in the vacancy at the top of STFC that the deadline for applications is April 28th….

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Good Morning Llandudno!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 19, 2011 by telescoper

Well, here I am in Llandudno for the 2011 National Astronomy Meeting. The journey up yesterday was as slow as expected, but ran to its timetable, and I got here just in time for the STFC “Community Meeting” in the early evening. That was very interesting, and has probably given me food for a few other blog posts.

After that it was off to the St George’s Hotel for the RAS Club dinner, which was an enjoyable affair including several distinguished guests including John Harries, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Welsh Assembly, who made a short speech after dinner.

Getting back to the hotel – the Imperial, shown below – I ran into a crowd of astronomers and STFC bods drinking in the bar, so stayed with them until the early hours. Despite this, I managed to get up early and had a stroll along the promenade before a hearty breakfast. I must say Llandudno is looking resplendent in the spring sunshine. It’s rather more upmarket than I imagined, although it does seem to be frequented by the older generation of holiday makers…

Anyway, here are a few phone snaps I took this morning. I have to run now because I’ve got a session to chair at 9am and I have to find the room it’s in.

Toodle-pip!

Astrostatistics at NAM

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on March 22, 2011 by telescoper

I’m using the opportunity of my enforced layoff to remind astronomers that this year’s forthcoming Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting, incorporating the MIST and UKSP meetings, will be taking place at the splendid Venue Cymru conference centre, Llandudno, North Wales, from Sunday 17 April to Thursday 21 April.

The period for egistration has been extended , and you can now also submit abstracts of either oral or poster presentations to be considered for inclusion in the various sessions described in the science programme.

I’m organising a session on Recent Developments in Astro-statistics. I haven’t exactly been overwhelmed with offers to speak and there are still one or two slots available, so if you’d like to give a talk in that session please register and upload an abstract to the website. You can’t do the latter until you have done the former. Astro-statistics will be interpreted widely, so I hope to have a varied programme including as many applications of statistics to astronomy and astrophysics as I can get!

NAM is a particularly good opportunity for younger researchers – PhD students and postdocs – to present their work to a big audience so I particularly encourage such persons to submit abstracts. Would more senior readers please pass this message on to anyone they think might want to give a talk?

If you have any questions please feel free to use the comments box (or contact me privately).

Oh, and I should have mentioned that Andrew Jaffe is also touting for trade for the cosmology sessions he’s organising…


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NAM 2011

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on January 20, 2011 by telescoper

Just a quick post to plug this year’s forthcoming Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting, incorporating the MIST and UKSP meetings, which will be taking place at the splendid Venue Cymru conference centre, Llandudno, North Wales, from Sunday 17 April to Thursday 21 April.

Registration is now open, and you can now also submit abstracts of either oral or poster presentations to be considered for inclusion in the various sessions described in the science programme.

I’ve been asked to organise a small part of this meeting, namely a session on Recent Developments in Astro-statistics, so if you’d like to give a talk in that session please register and upload an abstract to the website. You can’t do the latter until you have done the former. Astro-statistics will be interpreted widely, so I hope to have a varied programme including as many applications of statistics to astronomy and astrophysics as I can get!

NAM is a particularly good opportunity for younger researchers – PhD students and postdocs – to present their work to a big audience so I particularly encourage such persons to submit abstracts. Would more senior readers please pass this message on to anyone they think might want to give a talk?

If you have any questions please feel free to use the comments box (or contact me privately).


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