Friday, September 7, 2012

Photos from the IAU in China

Here are some of the photos I took of stuff (related to astronomy!) at the IAU in China.

Here's the giant IAU 2012 sign outside the convention centre. Plus some SKA balloons (and someone's children!). ;) It was a busy meeting with the children accompanying us (my husband is also an astronomer) and attending an UNAWE run workshop during the first week (article about the workshop is online here) and also in the 8th Edition of the IAU Daily Newspaper.

Since my daughter was "quoted" here's the article. 

I enjoyed the Daily Newspaper, I admit partly because my talk (and me) were featured on the front page of the first one:

But also because I had been given the task to collect a newspaper for every day to share with someone special who has a collection of all such newspapers from every IAU GA since the meetings began. The 2012 addition to the collection I admit is still sitting on my desk, but will get sent off very soon. 

This was the Newspaper stand where you could collect the print editions: 

So I gave this big talk on the evening of the first day. Here's me by the sign which advertised the talk (which didn't come out). 

The (almost) empty hall before people started coming in. This is apparently the location of the 2008 Olympic Badminton Events. It seats 3000 - but a long stretch the largest room I've ever spoken in (as people seemed to want to point out to me often in the run up to my talk!). 

Here's my lovely title slide (with credit to Zooniverse designed David Miller) displayed on the  big screen. 

Bryan Gaensler (@SciBry) snapped (and tweeted) this shot of me talking to Brian Schmidt (@cosmicpinot) before the talk. Brian gave one of the other Invited Discourses. 

Finally, with credit to my husband Wynn Ho (for taking the video - and he apologise for the poor camera work which was related to him also watching the children at the same time), here's a short video of the introduction to the talk (given my my former thesis advisor Prof. Martha Haynes) and my 
Chinese welcome words. 

The day after my talk, the hall was rather more full for the Opening Ceremony of the IAU meeting, at which Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (a potential sucessor to Hu Jintao) addressed us. The full text of his speech can be read in the 3rd Daily Edition of the IAU Newspaper. 

Following this speech, the award of the 2012 Gruber Prize and Fellowship, and a lovely public lecutre by Jocelyn Bell, was a display of Chinese culture (various dances, acrobatics, music etc). At the end of this the staff and students of the Chinese National Astronomy Observatory treated us to a dance display with an astronmical theme. 

Here are some pictures I took of this, which was a bit cutesy, but I enjoyed! 

I particularly enjoyed the silver umbrellas making a variety of radio telescope shapes. 

And the finale. 

The exhibition area at an IAU meeting is always fun, and I particularly enjoyed several of the models on display. Oddly given my interest in the project I didn't take a picture of the lovely LOFAR LBA models, but I was happy to finally see them in person. 

The ALMA booth had some great lego models. This one of the transporter which moves the dishes. 

And this model of an ALMA dish. 

This was a nice model of the Giant Magellan Telescope I think. 

The Korean Astronomy booth had the best takeaway models. You (well I) can build the below from a flat packed kit. My kids made during the day camp the moveable models of Magellan (which we also had fun destroying to pack to bring back to the UK). These were really impressive.

I also liked this model (and the setting of it) of a Cerenkov Array Telescope. These are designed to detect light flashes from Cerenkov radiation when gamma rays enter our upper atmosphere. 

In one corner of the main lobby was a collection of what looked like bad astronomy art. On closer inspection though you could discover, that these were actually silk embroidered versions of astronomical images - a craft typical of the Suzhou area (near Shanghai) which I had visited on a previous trip to China.

Here some of the artists are at work embroidering the Earth, and a map of the cosmic web. These were really impressive. 

I enjoyed the displays (and a lunchtime lecture) on Chinese Ancient Astronomy. The below panel is a list of predictions of solar eclipses. The Chinese in around the 10th century made astronomical observations and records comparable to those westeners used in the 16th/17th century to develop our models of gravity. The lunchtime lecture included an interesting discussion on the lack of a Chinese version of Kepler. 

There was also the below, full working replica (on a slightly smaller scale than the original) of an ancient Chinese water clock. This was the first clock in the world able to keep accurate time. And it was also beautifully carved.

Finally, the whole event had reminders of the previous use of the building. As is typical for most large conferences (AAS excepted) the poster sessions were in an out of the way corner of the event. I managed a visit while trying to walk my son to sleep one afternoon, and snapped the below shot of the floor of the room. 

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