I am strongly committed to the public dissemination of my work, and give regular public talks about my research and its high profile results. I am always happy to visit local astronomical societies and schools to talk about my own research, or about astronomy in general. For details of the talks I currently have prepared, click the link above! I am also happy to put together new talks, should none of my regular talks take your fancy.
My Outreach History
Having been a member of astronomical societies since a very young age (six years old, or so), I benefitted hugely from hearing great talks and getting fantastic advice from professional astronomers. In fact, my choice of both my undergraduate university (Durham) and undergraduate degree (M.Sci Physics and Astronomy) were motivated by the advice I received from professional astronomers who were generous enough to visit the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society, WYAS, to give outreach talks. Their help and guidance not only helped me to cultivate my interest in astronomy, but also ensured that I made choices that allowed me to move on to my own career as a professional astronomer.
I have always been hugely passionate about astronomy, and am regularly and enthusiastically involved in a wide variety of outreach work. Whilst I was in the UK, I regularly gave talks as an invited guest speaker to astronomical societies across the UK (the first of which was given when I was just 11 years of age). I also regularly organised an led observing evenings for groups of young people (such as Girl Guides and Scouts) and the residents of the Camphill Community for adults with learning difficulties in Milton Keynes, combining both an introductary talk on the wonders of the night sky with guided observations using both the naked eye and the telescope at the Open University's George Abell Observatory.
Despite currently living overseas, I am hugely proud to act as the honourary President of the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society, of which I've been a member since the tender age of eight.
Outreach in Australia
Since my move to Australia, I have enthusiastically continued my outreach work. I have given a number of interview to Stuart Gary, of the ABC, which have featured on their excellent weekly science podcast "Star Stuff". My first appearance came following the announcement of some interesting results obtained by scientists studying the Tagish Lake meteorite. The interview can be heard here, from about the 7m30s mark. Stuart also interviewed me a week later, to talk about some interesting new results from the EPOXI space mission, which visited comet Hartley 2 in November 2010. My more recent interviews have covered a variety of topics, including "rocket dust storms" on Mars and the formation of Saturn.
As part of the general excitement over the 2012 Venus Transit, I did a number of interviews with media around the world - including Deutsche Welle, SBS television, and ABC national radio. Though the weather in Sydney wasn't perfect, we got a pretty good view of the transit, in between the blustery rain showers that kept blowing through. A good time was had by all!
Currently Prepared Outreach Talks
I currently have several talks prepared on the following topics, that I'm willing to present to any groups that are interested (though, now that I'm in Australia, presenting in the UK might be difficult!):
"Jupiter - Friend or Foe" - it has long been believed that the planet Jupiter has played a crucial role in the development of life on Earth, by preventing us from being overly bombarded by comets and asteroids for the past four and a half thousand million years (or so). Here, I talk about revolutionary work I've carried out while at the Open University, that shows that things might not be quite as simple as people had always thought...
"The Neptune Trojans: A Window to the Birth of the Solar System" - the Neptune Trojans are the most recently discovered addition to the zoo of Solar system objects. Moving around the Sun in a group that stays approximately sixty degrees ahead of the planet Neptune in its orbit, their behaviour and evolution may help shed light on the processes through which the planets formed and migrated to their current location. In this talk, I discuss groundbreaking work carried out in association with Dr. Patryk Sofia Lywkawka, based in Japan, studying the past, present, and future of these enigmatic objects.
"Meteor Showers" - I gave this talk at an Astronomy day that I organised for FUSION, the Open University's physics society, and have since given it to the OU's AstroSoc. The level can be tweaked depending on the target audience, but the talk aims to explain the origin and history of these beautiful displays of "shooting stars", together with some detail on how best to observe them.
"Rocks From Space" - On 15th February, 2013, a rock from space exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring over 1,500 people, and making headline news world wide. On the same day, a larger piece of space debris, the asteroid 2012 DA14, missed our planet by less than 30,000 km - an incredibly near miss. These events are a stark reminder of the threat posed to the Earth by "Rocks from Space". In this talk, I explain where the different groups of threatening objects come from, tracing their story back to the formation of the Solar system, as well as discussing the threat they pose to the Earth, and the other planets in the Solar system.
"Exoplanets and life elsewhere: Which ExoEarths should we search for life?" - In the coming decade, it is almost certain that the first Earth-like planets will be found orbiting distant stars. At that point, the search for life beyond our Solar system will begin in earnest, with scientists building costly space observatories in order to put the most promising planets under close scrutiny. But how will they chose which planets should be targeted first? What factors will make one planet more promising as a target than another. In this talk, I will explain how astronomers across the globe are searching for exoplanets, before discussing the various features of a planet and its host star that researchers think might influence its habitability.
I'm also happy to prepare talks based around "What's on in the Night Sky", focused on the time of year I'm giving the presentation, together with talks of a more scientific nature, where I show some of the more beautiful images of the night sky that can be found on the internet, and give an explanation of how we know the things we know about the universe as a whole.
Over the next few months, a number of the projects with which I'm heavily involved will yield exciting new results, and I will no doubt write additional talks to allow me to present my latest results to any interested parties!
My Outreach Videos
Here are a couple of talks I gave at a big event I organised for the 2008 Milton Keynes Science Festival, hosted over on Youtube. The first is an old version of my "Jupiter - Friend of Foe" presentation, while the second is a more general "What's on in the night sky?" type talk. Hope you enjoy them!