Over the years I have instigated and been involved with some large and exciting projects. Here you can find a selection of them.
Zoom planetarium shows (2021/22): Having visited (in person) a few Brownie groups in Cheshire to do astronomy and help girls earn their space badge since returning to the UK, during the 2021 January lockdown due to Covid-19 I started offering Zoom-based virtual planetarium shows to Brownie groups anywhere in the UK (here’s the press release). The project was a huge success, and is still running in 2022! I was awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours on the Platinum Jubilee for this project, in recognition of services to Girlguiding during the Covid-19 pandemic (UCLan press release).
We Share the Same Moon (2019): a project carried out with storyteller Cassandra Wye during 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. We created a collection of creative and fun space-related and science-based activities linked to aspects of the primary science curriculum, together with a large collection of linked stories from many cultures. These activities and stories were tested in schools in Lancashire, Cheshire and Bristol during 2019, and the activities remain available today for anyone to use.
The Story of Space (2017): RAS-OAD astro4dev grant mobility funding to travel to the Story of Space festival in Goa in November 2017 and run Cycle the Solar System with artist Nick Sayers.
Royal Society Pairing Scheme (2016): selected to spend a week in Westminster shadowing Conservative MP Chris Green (Bolton West) in the House of Commons, and organised a reciprocal visit to UCLan (here’s the press release about my trip to Westminster, and here’s the press release about Chris’s visit to UCLan).
Macclesfield’s Barnaby Festival (2016): the theme of the festival in 2016 was Space, and I was invited to join the live events committee to help plan the programme. I helped to plan several events, including a live observing session in the Town Hall that ran over the main festival weekend, using LCOGT telescopes in Hawaii and Australia. I also played in the parade with the local samba band!
Doctor Who and the Silver Spiral (2010): In early 2010 I wrote a short Doctor Who story, based on the science behind a paper published in Nature. The story received significant media attention from a variety of sources not normally known for their science reporting, and led to interviews on the Australian ABC’s StarStuff podcast, the DWO Whocast, and a dramatic production of the story by Darker Projects.
Australian National Science Week (2010): I was PI of an Australian National Science Week project to build a travelling exhibition, “Tuning In”, to demonstrate radio astronomy in busy shopping centres and other venues during National Science Week 2010. I led the construction of the telescopes for the project, and organised the tour itself.
Ilgarijiri (2009): Whilst working at Curtin University in Australia I ran a programme of outreach visits to remote indigenous communities and schools in Western Australia. In 2009 this included an International Year of Astronomy project linking astronomers with Aboriginal artists, involving a unique field trip to a remote observatory site and cultural exchange with a group of Aboriginal artists who created “Ilgarijiri”, an international exhibition of astronomically-themed Aboriginal art.
Astrofest Western Australia (2009): Together with the Astronomy WA collaboration of universities, science centres, and other stakeholders, I took on a major role in planning Astrofest 2009, Western Australia’s largest single event for the International Year of Astronomy. I was heavily involved with the event as co-organiser and the point-of-contact at Curtin University, conducting the risk assessment and coordinating with local astronomical societies. The event continues to run.
International Year of Astronomy (2009): I ran a series of events around Perth and the surrounding regions as part of the IYA activities, and participated in several others. These included public observing session on the South Perth foreshore, solar observing in King’s Park, and many others.
Scouts Australia (2008-2011): As a Scout Leader with 4th Victoria Park Scouts, I helped many Scouts earn their astronomer badge, as well as supporting the group with weekly meetings, regular hikes and camping trips, and larger events such as Campwest. During 2009 I wrote a monthly column for the Chief Scout of WA’s regular newsletter to tell members what was visible in the sky each month. I also secured a personal grant from the Chief Scout to pay for several thousand planispheres which I distributed on request for free to Scout groups around Western Australia. I provided advice for astronomy activities to the 2010 Jamboree in Sydney, and hosted astronomical observing at the Venture state camp.
The Jodcast (2006-2013): I researched, wrote and presented the News segment of the award-winning astronomy podcast The Jodcast between 2006 when the show started, and 2013. For several years I was also a regular contributor to the online radio station Astronomy.FM, and regular presenter on the Under British Skies programme.
Lovell Telescope 50th Anniversary (2007): I helped to organise and run a series of events to mark the anniversary of the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, all of these events attracted capacity crowds and generated positive feedback from visitors. This included numerous star parties involving local astronomical societies, recreating the first observation varied out with the telescope, and developing a radio meteor observing station.
Girl Guides (2005): I was involved with a PPARC-funded project to create an astronomy `”Go For It!” challenge pack for the Girl Guide Association. I helped to write and test the activities, including a weekend with a group of Girl Guides at Waddow hall to test the activities in practice and get feedback from the target audience. The pack was widely used by Girl Guiding groups across the UK for many years.
Jodrell Bank events (2003-2008): During the course of my time at Jodrell Bank I helped organise numerous public events. These include public events for the transit of Venus (June 2004), the launch of the sixth and seventh Harry Potter novels (July 2005, July 2007), an annular eclipse (October 2005), and the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik launch (October 2007). In 2005 I also started “Ask An Astronomer” events in the Visitor Centre during each school holiday period, putting together a rota of helpers, training new students, coordinating with the Visitor Centre staff and regularly undertaking sessions myself.