Archive for Merseyside Astronomy Day

The Train and the River

Posted in Biographical, Books, Talks and Reviews with tags , , , on May 12, 2012 by telescoper

Well, here I am back in Cardiff after my little trip to Merseyside. The weather behaved itself and so did the trains in both directions, so it was quite a pleasant travelling experience. In fact, going there yesterday I managed to make a technically impossible connection at Crewe, owing to the train from Cardiff being a minute or two early and the train to Liverpool being a minute late.

I stayed last night at the Jury’s Inn at Albert Dock, shown on the left here. There’s a sort of Ferris Wheel thing next to it. These contraptions seem to be popping up all over the place. Next thing you know there’ll be one in London! The hotel was of its type, generic but reasonably comfortable. Brings back memories of STFC panel meeting; the Jury’s Inn there is a standard place to stay in Swindon when sentenced to hard labour. Unfortunately the one I stayed in was booked up by multiple stag and hen parties and was ridiculously noisy all night. I didn’t really get any sleep until well after 4am. Grump.

Anyway, last night we had a very nice dinner at the Clove Hitch restaurant/bistro (which I definitely recommend) preceded by a pint at the famous Philharmonic Pub. Thanks to Phil and Sue for looking after us so nicely.

My talk opened the proceedings at the Merseyside Astronomy Day, which was held at Spaceport on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey. Here’s a view of Liverpool’s impressive skyline taken from there, with a nice sailing barge on the Mersey.

The small auditorium – usually used for Planetarium shows – was pretty full and I think my talk went quite well, although it’s not really for me to say. They did actually record everything so if I can get hold of a copy I might post it. Anyway, after my turn there was a fascinating lecture by Prof. Peter Read of Oxford University about the atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn.

After a quick lunch we used Liverpool’s excellent public transport to zip back to Liverpool Lime Street and I had a relaxing and punctual journey back to Cardiff, albeit with no miracle change at Crewe this time. Dozing on the train I quite startled to wake up near Shrewsbury to find a vintage steam locomotive in sight:

No doubt there’ll be someone out there in internetshire who will tell me all about this train through the comments box but for now I’m going to make some dinner and take it easy as I’m rather knackered.

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Merseyside Astronomy Day

Posted in Books, Talks and Reviews, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , on May 11, 2012 by telescoper

I’m just about to head by train off up to Merseyside (which, for those of you unfamiliar with the facts of British geography, is in the Midlands). The reason for this trip is that I’m due to give a talk tomorrow morning (Saturday 12th May) at Merseyside Astronomy Day, the 7th such event. It promises to be a MAD occasion.

My lecture, entitled The Cosmic Web, is an updated version of a talk I’ve given a number of times now; it will focus on the large scale structure of the Universe and the ideas that physicists are weaving together to explain how it came to be the way it is. Over the last few decades astronomers have revealed that our cosmos is not only vast in scale – at least 14 billion light years in radius – but also exceedingly complex, with galaxies and clusters of galaxies linked together in immense chains and sheets, surrounding giant voids of empty space. Cosmologists have developed theoretical explanations for its origin that involve such exotic concepts as ‘dark matter’ and ‘cosmic inflation’, producing a cosmic web of ideas that is in some ways as rich and fascinating as the Universe itself.

Anyway, I’m travelling to Liverpool this afternoon so I can meet the organizers for dinner this evening and stay overnight because there won’t be time to get there by train from Cardiff tomorrow morning. It’s not all that far from Cardiff to Liverpool as the crow flies, but unfortunately I’m not going by crow by train. I am nevertheless looking forward to seeing the venue, Spaceport, which I’ve never seen before.

If perchance any readers of this blog are planning to attend MAD VII please feel free to say hello. No doubt you will also tell me off for referring to Liverpool as the Midlands…