Archive for National Astronomy Meeting

EWASS in Liverpool

Posted in Football, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2018 by telescoper

I’m back in Maynooth with teaching to do after the Easter recess. The Flybe schedule having just changed for the summer, I took a 7am flight from Cardiff to Dublin this morning, which meant getting up at stupid o’clock, but I got here safely enough to Maynooth at about 9.40am.

Anyway, had I not known that I would be here in Ireland I would probably have planned to visit the English Midlands in order to attend EWASS (European Week of Astronomy and Space Science) which takes place this week in Liverpool. This meeting, which is in a different country each year, this time incorporates the Royal Astronomical Society’s annual National Astronomy Meeting making it one of the biggest astronomy conferences ever held in the UK.

Sadly my teaching commitments meant I couldn’t attend EWASS2018, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to wish everyone there all the best for an enjoyable and productive week.

I’ll also mention that various short videos of press briefings etc are coming out on Youtube with little snippets from the conference, including this one about Ariel (which I blogged about recently):

You can find other videos by searching for EWASS on Youtube. I’m sure more will emerge over the next couple of days!

P.S. The event in Liverpool has clearly been planned with football fans in mind: Liverpool play Manchester City tonight, in Liverpool, in the UEFA Champions League..(UPDATE: the match finished 3-0 to Liverpool, which presumably pleased the locals).

Astronomical and Other Events this Week

Posted in Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on July 4, 2017 by telescoper

This week sees the 2017 National Astronomy Meeting which is taking place in Hull (which, for those of you unfamiliar with British geography, is in the Midlands). I usually try to attend this annual event but this year haven’t been able to make it owing to other commitments. I’m particularly sad about this because I’ll miss seeing two old friends (Nick Kaiser and Marek Kukula) being presented with their RAS medals. Moreover, one of the pieces of astronomical research announced at this meeting that has been making headlines features my office mate and fellow resident of Pontcanna, Dr Emily Drabek-Maunder.

Anyway, to keep up with what’s going on at NAM2017 you can follow announcements on twitter:

This week also sees a meeting in Cambridge on Gravity and Black Holes to celebrate the 75th birthday of Stephen Hawking, which goes on until tomorrow (Wednesday 5th). This conference also looks like a very good one, covering a much wider range of topics than its title perhaps suggests. Stephen’s birthday was actually in January, but I hope it’s not too late to wish him many happy returns!

Finally, though not a conference as such, there’s annual Royal Society Summer Science exhibition going on in London this week too. This is a showcase for a wealth of scientific research including, this year, an exhibit about gravitational waves called Listening to Einstein’s Universe. There’s even a promotional video featuring some of my colleagues at Cardiff University (along with many others):

Anyway, if you’re in London and at a loose end and interested in science and that, do pop into the Royal Society and have a look. The Summer Science Exhibition is always well worth a visit!

 

Last Call for Cosmology Talks at NAM 2015!

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on April 13, 2015 by telescoper

Just a quick post about this year’s forthcoming Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting, which will be taking place at the splendid Venue Cymru conference centre, Llandudno, North Wales, from Sunday 5th July to Thursday 9th July 2015. I’m on the Scientific Organizing Committee for NAM 2015 and as such I’ll be organizing a part of this meeting, namely a couple of sessions on Cosmology under the title Cosmology Beyond the Standard Model, with the following description.

Recent observations, particularly those from the Planck satellite, have provided strong empirical foundations for a standard cosmological model that is based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and which describes a universe which is homogeneous and isotropic on large scales and which is dominated by dark energy and matter components. This session will explore theoretical and observational challenges to this standard picture, including modified gravity theories, models with large-scale inhomogeneity and/or anisotropy, and alternative forms of matter-energy. The aim will be to both take stock of the evidence for, and stimulate further investigation of, physics beyond the standard model.

The deadline for submitting abstracts for this and other sessions was originally 1st April, but this has been extended until 14th April (i.e. tomorrow). The cosmology sessions are shaping up to be very interesting indeed, but I might be able to squeeze in one or two more talks. If you’ve been prevaricating about submitting a proposal, then please get your finger out and visit the NAM2015 website right now. This is your last chance!

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).

NAM 2015: Abstract Submission Reminder!

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on March 24, 2015 by telescoper

Time for another quick plug of this year’s  Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting, which will be taking place at the splendid Venue Cymru conference centre, Llandudno, North Wales, from Sunday 5th July to Thursday 9th July 2015. I’ve posted about  this before, but I thought I’d post it again because there is just a week left to submit an abstract for a contributed talk or poster; the deadline for doing that is April 1st. I’m actually on the Scientific Organizing Committee for NAM 2015 and as such I’ll be organizing part of this meeting, namely a couple of sessions on Cosmology under the title Cosmology Beyond the Standard Model, with the following description.

Recent observations, particularly those from the Planck satellite, have provided strong empirical foundations for a standard cosmological model that is based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and which describes a universe which is homogeneous and isotropic on large scales and which is dominated by dark energy and matter components. This session will explore theoretical and observational challenges to this standard picture, including modified gravity theories, models with large-scale inhomogeneity and/or anisotropy, and alternative forms of matter-energy. The aim will be to both take stock of the evidence for, and stimulate further investigation of, physics beyond the standard model.

It’s obviously quite a broad remit so I hope that there will be plenty of contributed talks and posters. 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?   To further whet your appetite, here are some pictures of lovely Llandudno  I took at the last National Astronomy Meeting there, back in 2011.     If you have any questions please feel free to use the comments box (or contact me privately).

NAM 2015 Open for Registration

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on March 7, 2015 by telescoper

A bit busy today so I just have time for another quick plug of this year’s  Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting, which will be taking place at the splendid Venue Cymru conference centre, Llandudno, North Wales, from Sunday 5th July to Thursday 9th July 2015. I’ve posted most of this before, but I thought I’d post it again because today is the day that registration opened; you can sign up by following the link from here.

To whet your appetite, here are some pictures of lovely Llandudno  I took at the last National Astronomy Meeting there, back in 2011.

The draft science programme is available and you can also find a full list of parallel sessions here. You can also  submit proposals for contributed talks and posters for any of the sessions, including the one I’m organizing described below.

 

If you’re on Twitter you can keep up-to-date with developments by following their Twitter feed:

I’m actually on the Scientific Organizing Committee for NAM 2015 and as such I’ll be organizing a part of this meeting, namely a couple of sessions on Cosmology under the title Cosmology Beyond the Standard Model, with the following description.

Recent observations, particularly those from the Planck satellite, have provided strong empirical foundations for a standard cosmological model that is based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and which describes a universe which is homogeneous and isotropic on large scales and which is dominated by dark energy and matter components. This session will explore theoretical and observational challenges to this standard picture, including modified gravity theories, models with large-scale inhomogeneity and/or anisotropy, and alternative forms of matter-energy. The aim will be to both take stock of the evidence for, and stimulate further investigation of, physics beyond the standard model.

It’s obviously quite a broad remit so I hope that there will be plenty of contributed talks and posters. 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).

Cosmology at NAM 2015

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , on February 26, 2015 by telescoper

Just a quick post to plug this year’s forthcoming Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting, which will be taking place at the splendid Venue Cymru conference centre, Llandudno, North Wales, from Sunday 5th July to Thursday 9th July 2015.

To whet your appetite, here are some pictures of lovely Llandudno  I took at the last National Astronomy Meeting there, back in 2011.

The draft science programme has  been posted and you can also find a full list of parallel sessions here.  The NAM 2015 website is now accepting proposals for contributed talks and posters relating to this and other sessions.

 

If you’re on Twitter you can keep up-to-date with developments by following their Twitter feed:

I’m actually on the Scientific Organizing Committee for NAM 2015 and as such I’ll be organizing a part of this meeting, namely a couple of sessions on Cosmology under the title Cosmology Beyond the Standard Model, with the following description.

Recent observations, particularly those from the Planck satellite, have provided strong empirical foundations for a standard cosmological model that is based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity and which describes a universe which is homogeneous and isotropic on large scales and which is dominated by dark energy and matter components. This session will explore theoretical and observational challenges to this standard picture, including modified gravity theories, models with large-scale inhomogeneity and/or anisotropy, and alternative forms of matter-energy. The aim will be to both take stock of the evidence for, and stimulate further investigation of, physics beyond the standard model.

It’s obviously quite a broad remit so I hope that there will be plenty of contributed talks and posters. The NAM 2015 website is now accepting proposals for contributed talks and posters relating to this and other sessions.

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).

Last Week of Term

Posted in Biographical, Education, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by telescoper

So the glorious weather continues. Unfortunately, unlike most UK universities, we’re not finished for Easter yet; at Cardiff University we only get three weeks for the Easter recess instead of the four that colleagues over the border seem to enjoy.

One of the consequences of this is that the annual National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) often falls in Cardiff term time. This year NAM is taking place in the fine city of Manchester (which, for those of you unfamiliar with British geography, is in the Midlands). Many colleagues in the School of Physics & Astronomy are attending NAM, and most of my research group are either there already or travelling up today. I particularly wish Jo and Ian well when they give their talks; one of the excellent things about NAM is the opportunity it offers for younger researchers to talk about their work to a large audience. Nerve-wracking, no doubt, but invaluable experience.

I’m not going to NAM this year because I have too much to do back here at the ranch, including filling in a few lectures for staff who are away.  I’m always reluctant to cancel lectures during term-time, but in the current spell of good weather I doubt if any students would complain too much! I did a cosmology lecture this morning – only the second I’ve done here – and it the room was uncomfortably stuffy. A few of the students failed to fall asleep, however, so I regard that as a major success.

It’s strange how often good weather coincides with times of great stress for students. I recall that most of my undergraduate examinations took place in glorious sunshine, which seemed to have been laid on by some malevolent being to make us suffer. This week our students have project reports and presentations to worry about and other coursework to finish before term ends, as well as revision for the exams that take place in May; being couped up inside is no fun on days like this and I’m sure they’d prefer it to be raining outside so as not to distract them from the tasks in hand…

It’s so quiet around here today that it occurred to me now would be a good time to stage a Coup d’Etat. Come to thank of it, there’s a Staff Meeting  been called on Wednesday which may well amount to something pretty similar…

Anyway, those of us around today have a nice event this evening to look forward to, a lecture by Lord Rees followed by a nice dinner in Aberdare Hall. Here’s the invitation:

You’ll see that this is organized “in association with The Learned Society for Wales“, which I only just learned about when I saw it on the invitation!

Anyway, the prospect of a slap-up dinner persuaded me to just have a sandwich for lunch. Now that’s eaten methinks I’ll get back to work!

UPDATE: It was indeed a very interesting and entertaining lecture by Lord Rees; here he is, in action, watched by Prof. Disney…

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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Astronomy Look-alikes, No. 55

Posted in Astronomy Lookalikes with tags , , , on April 20, 2011 by telescoper

One of the bonuses of being at the National Astronomy Meeting here in Llandudo – aside from being at the seaside at a time of gloriously sunny weather – is the chance to attend plenary lectures from other fields and learn a bit about what’s going on in the wider world of astronomy, space science and geophysics. More importantly, it also gives me new ideas for my look-alikes series. Take today, for example. I attended a nice plenary talk about the EISCAT facility by a speaker, Dr Esa Turunen, who may well be related to Norman Tebbit…

Norman Tebbit

Esa Turunen

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Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est

Posted in Biographical, Cricket, The Universe and Stuff with tags , on April 17, 2011 by telescoper

Well, dear readers, I’ve had a lovely day of gardening and watching cricket; the former hacking down the dead half a Forsythia this morning, the latter watching Glamorgan gain their first win of the Championship season by beating Gloucestershire in fine style here in Cardiff. I also managed to catch a bit of the sun, which has left me a bit woozy. I’ll have to buy myself a hat to wear on days like this. With fair skin and blue eyes, I don’t tan – I stroke.

Anyway, tomorrow morning I’ll be heading off up to the fine seaside resort of Llandudno in North Wales for this years National Astronomy Meeting (NAM for short). It starts this evening, in fact, with a wine reception and other festivities, but unfortunately the journey by train from Cardiff takes absolutely ages on a Sunday, so I decided to eschew the delights of the first evening and travel up tomorrow morning. On a weekday it only takes 5 hours from Cardiff to Llandudno….

I’ll probably miss most, and possibly all, of tomorrow’s talks but should get there in good time for the out-of-town meeting of the RAS Dining Club which will be held in the St George’s Hotel in Llandudno and to which a number of illustrious guests have been invited. On Tuesday morning there’s the session I organised on astrostatistics, which I am looking forward to chairing, and then the conference dinner in the evening. The following day I’m chairing a session on astroparticle physics too. There’s no rest for the wicked. Most of the rest of the time I’ll probably be at the numerous cosmology or extragalactic astronomy sessions or, more likely, in the bar. If the weather stays like this, however, I might wander along the beach and, rolling my trousers up and donning a knotted handkerchief, go for a paddle in the sea.

I’m told there will be wireless connectivity in Llandudno throughout NAM 2011 so I hope to post a few brief blogettes about interesting events, but possibly not tomorrow as I might not have time. The excellent RAS Press Office will no doubt be hard at it for the duration, so watch out for a stream of press releases. I’m not sure whether the mass media will be bothered to get off their backsides and travel all that way from their London offices, so we’ll just have to see how much gets onto the main news.

I’m not particularly looking forward to the journey by the slow train tomorrow, but am definitely looking forward to the change of scenery and to catch up not only with the astronomy but also with some old friends.

If anyone I’ve never actually met before who reads this blog is there, do please say hello! You’ll find I’m quite a friendly chap, really…

P.S. The latin quotation I used in the title here isn’t really relevant. I just picked it because it starts with the word “NAM”. If you’re interested, however, it’s by Francis Bacon and it means, roughly speaking, “knowledge is power”.


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