Episode 13: The South African Astronomical Observatory

featuring Professor Petri Vaisanen

In our final episode for Season 1, we are joined by Professor Petri Vaisanen, Director of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

Petri discusses the path to his current role including his research on galaxy evolution and some of the exciting discoveries along the way.

Petri also explains his current role, his vision for astronomy in South Africa, and some of the exciting developments occurring at SAAO and around the world!

We are then joined by Allen Versfeld who runs the Urban Astronomer podcast and who does an excellent job of highlighting the astronomy in South Africa. You can find the Urban Astronomer podcast at https://www.urban-astronomer.com

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT)

The European Southern Observatory’s Extremely Large Telescope foundations!

Featured Image: The SAAO Plateau in Sutherland, South Africa

This week’s guests:

Episode Links:
SAAO: http://www.saao.ac.za
SALT: http://www.salt.ac.za
ESO ELT: https://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/elt/
Urban Astronomer Podcast: https://www.urban-astronomer.com

Episode 12: Further Adventures in Oz

with Dr Jeff Wagg and Ahmed Elagali

Jacinta continues her visit to Australia, this week chatting with Dr Jeff Wagg about the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) and Ahmed Elagali about his work on superclusters, neutral hydrogen and ring galaxies.

Jeff is a project scientist for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) science team and he updates us on the current status of the SKA, as an organisation, but also from a construction point of view. Incredibly exciting to see this massive project taking shape!

Ahmed is a PhD student from Sudan working at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and he talks to us about superclusters and his role in the discovery of the Vela Supercluster. Ahmed also explains some of his recent work on neutral hydrogen and ring galaxies.

This week’s Guests

Featured Image:
Aerial view of the SKA Global Headquarters at Jodrell Bank, UK. Credit: SKAO / Dragons Eye Filming

Related Links:
SKA: https://www.skatelescope.org/
ICRAR: https://www.icrar.org/

Episode 11: A Trip Down Under

with Dr Ivy Wong, Dr Brenda Namumba and Professor Peter Quinn

Jacinta takes us on a tour of her homeland, into the Australian bush, and chats about pathfinders, precursors and the exciting collaborations between South Africa and Australia!

Precursor telescopes like the South African MeerKAT and HERA (Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array), along with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) are providing SKA scientists with invaluable knowledge to assist in the design of the SKA’s main telescopes over the coming decade.

Pathfinder telescopes and systems, such as the now-retired KAT-7 (Karoo Array Telescope) are dotted around the globe and are also engaged in SKA related technology and science studies.

First, we hear from Dr Ivy Wong, a researcher at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, about large surveys of neutral hydrogen gas in galaxies and the results shared at the 12th PHISCC (Pathfinders HI Science Coordination Committee) Conference.

Neutral Hydrogen atoms produce radio emission at a wavelength of 21cm or a frequency of 1420 MHz. This emission is commonly referred to as HI and it is the raw fuel of star formation.

We are then joined by newly capped Dr Brenda Namumba from the University of Cape Town. She tells us about her exciting work using the pathfinder to MeerKAT, the KAT-7 telescope.

Finally, Jacinta sits down with Professor Peter Quinn, the Director of ICRAR. They chat about the the incredible growth of radio astronomy in both South Africa and Australia over the recent years, and the enormous collaboration opportunities the SKA is creating between the two countries!

Featured Image:
CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope, located at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Credit: CSIRO/Dragonfly Media

This weeks guests:

Related Links:
CSIRO: https://www.csiro.au/
ICRAR: https://www.icrar.org/
ASKAP: https://www.atnf.csiro.au/projects/askap/index.html
MWA: www.mwatelescope.org/
MeerKAT: https://www.ska.ac.za/gallery/meerkat/
HERA: https://www.ska.ac.za/science-engineering/hera/
SARAO: https://www.ska.ac.za/about/sarao/
UCT Astronomy: http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/