Saturday, 17 January 2009

Cosmic Diary Launched!

To follow the Cosmic Diary please visit
My blog is there with all the exciting events from the IYA 2009 Opening Ceremony!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Budding young scientists urged to reach for skies

Received a funny email from Rob Hill asking me to look at this link; oh well, is it any surprise the Irish beat the UK to launching their projects for IYA 2009 before the UK's? perhaps its their knack for winning Eurovision year on year or something in the water.

Budding young scientists urged to reach for skies

By Breda Heffernan

Thursday May 15 2008

STUDENTS scanned the skies above Dublin yesterday, not in the hope of tracking alien life, but in honour of the world's most famous astronomer, Galileo.

With the summer holidays almost in sight, pupils are already being urged to put their thinking caps on ahead of next year's BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Next year will be the International Year of Astronomy and will be 400 years since Galileo first used a telescope to study the heavens. In honour of this anniversary, the annual science exhibition will have spectacular displays on the theme of astronomy at the RDS next January.

Now entering its 45th year, the exhibition hopes to attract a record number of projects in 2009. Last year, students from around the country entered 1,416 projects, covering every aspect of science.

Chris Clark, chief executive of BT, said: "The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition is one of the finest showcases in the world for science, technology and mathematics. This 32-county exhibition provides a platform for our young scientists and technologists to come together to investigate theories, discover new technologies and advance current knowledge through innovation.

"Continued focus is needed on developing Ireland as a knowledge economy. We believe this exhibition en-courages schools throughout the island to have an interest in the skills that will help Ireland advance and thrive."

I wonder if it was the same Galileo who appeared at the ASE conference this year?!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Moondog bleached by the Sun.... Cosmic lyrics

Listening, trying hard to chill out while battling with 6 funding proposals now all wrapped round seeking funding for the IYA 09 projects. Listening to Underworld and this lyric stood out... Moondog bleached by the Sun. I've often done with this friends sat around when bored... asking them to come up with a title or a line from a song around a theme or a situation. What would be your Cosmic Soundtrack?

Mike Robe from UKRA has already beat me to this with his Rocket tunes CD that he was handing out to people at the UK Space Conference but here is something that might one day turn up as a Cosmic Diary compilation:

1. Intergalactic - Beastie Boys

2. Good Morning Cockeral - Underworld (moondog bleached by the sun)

3. Pearl's Girl - Underworld ( and old man einstein crazy in his attic)

4. ELO - Mr Blue Skies

5. Earth intruders - Bjork

6. Saturn 5 - Inspiral carpets

7. Two worlds collide - Inspiral Carpets - they also had a picture of Saturn on the from of the single

8. Outta Space - The Prodigy

9. Gustav Holst - The Planets Suite

10. Across the Universe - The Beatles - would you believe this track was beamed to the pole star by NASA? and now its started an argument between astronomers who are saying that if interpreted as a blattle cry it could start an alien invasion! If you don't beleive me, check out the link to the story... scary!

Sunday, 4 May 2008


Information on how Universe Awareness will be operating in the UK has been added to the Universe Awareness Website at . As UK Co-ordinator I am aiming to link up the current UNAWE efforts to the current UK science education networks and make the unawe resources and educational materials accessible to teachers across the four national UK regions.

The UK UNAWE network is growing by the day and next week on May 10th I will be giving a brief update on UNAWE and the Galileo Teacher Training Programme at the British Association for Planetaria AGM which will be held at the LIFE Centre in Newcastle.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Funding Opportunities for IYA 09

Well, as the clock ticks down to IYA 09 a number of funding opportunities have arisen to support the activites and events for next year. Here are just a few that can be applied for focusing on specific areas for the 11 Global Cornerstone Projects and International national projects.

IoP's UK based only Public Engagement grants - deadline May 2nd... get your application in quick!

EU Media 2008 International Cooperation:

More to be added later today!

Visit for joining the current IYA 09 International Funding Consortium or email myself at

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Its Another Tadpole Galaxy!!!

Wow, after discoveing 40 odd dwarf galaxies yesterday I had to stop myself from keeling over when I spotted this galaxy tucked away in the smaller thumbnails of the Hubble 18th anniversary press release. This is something phenomenal. Compare the galaxies below, the first is Markarian 273 and the other is the Tadpole galaxy. Many of the neighbouring galaxies in the field of Mrk 273 share the same morphology as the neighbouring galaxies in the Tadpole field. Just like I predicted. Shame I'm still writing that paper! At the moment I'm too busy grant bid writing to do proper research so I have decided to ban all telly and do research in the evenings whilst grant bid writing and creating educational programmes for IYA 09 during the day.
Markarian 273

Tadpole Galaxy/Arp 188

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Cosmic Diary

Since starting this blog last year I forgot to give a breakdown of what the Cosmic Diary actually is. Cosmic Diary is one of the 11 Global Cornerstone Projects for the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The Cosmic Diary isn't just about astronomy, its about portraying the human side of the astronomers themselves. The Cosmic Diary will be a glimpse into the daily lives of astronomers worldwide, creating a blog in text and images, (and in my blog movies), reporting on their life, families, friends, hobbies, interests, their latest research findings and the challenges that face them in their research and work.

Outside the observatories, labs and offices, astronomers are parents, photographers, athletes, and musicians. At work they are managers, observers, graduate students, lecturers, grant proposers, instrument builders and data analysts.

More can be found on the IYA 09 website at:

So why is this a blog created under the banner of the Cosmic Diary project? In the UK and Internationally we still have a long long way to go before the global cornerstone projects as a whole are ready for next year. Some of the projects are pretty straight forward while others to implement will be extremely complex and will require an enormous amount of (wo)man power. My motivation for the Cosmic Diary is to assist in the coordination of the international collective taskgroups and grant funding. I am also a taskgroup member of Universe Awareness and the Galileo Teacher Training Programme, and also Universe Awareness co-ordinator for the UK. This year I have been able to represent the Association for Astronomy Education as their President and also the Space Education Council as their secretary. To move matters forward in the UK and worldwide, a UK collective is planning a conference to be held during IYA 09 to show teachers, educators, pupils, astronomers, members of the public and everyone in-between what the IYA 09 hopes to achieve, what we are planning to do and what we are currently doing. Many of the IYA 09 global cornerstone projects intend to carry on after 2009. Some like Universe Awareness plan to become a foundation where the project is implemented with project partners worldwide. Ambitious as this all seems, this can only happen as a collective consortium of astronomers, educators, the amateur astronomy community and everyday citizens. By utilising this blog it is hoped that people will be able to tap into the latest updates on the progress of IYA 09 and also to get a glimpse of an astronomers daily life , what it is like to be an astronomer and also obtain information on the latest activites, events and how they can participate. And hopefully you will also find it entertaining! astronomers have a sense of humour too you know) : )