Astrotech and Cake

Last week included a trip to Edinburgh for STFC Council*. I arrived early (I recommend the night train, at least if you are within easy reach of Euston) and walked through Edinburgh in the mist to the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, which is nearly at the top of Blackford Hill to the south of the city centre. I’m not sure why it isn’t at the top of the hill, really. It is at the Royal Observatory, and in my experience astronomers always get themselves as high as possible.

The view from the terrace when I got there was not amazing

Although it did significantly improve as the morning went on.

I’d like to say the same happened during the meeting, and on some topics it did.

A science highlight we heard about was of course the successful launch and ongoing commissioning of the James Webb Space Telescope, in particular the MIRI instrument for the which the European contribution was led by UKATC’s Prof Gillian Wright. The meeting was in the Higgs Centre for Innovation, named of course for another of Edinburgh’s well-known bosons scientists. We had a small JWST celebration with cake, which was excellent although possibly not up to the very highest standards of PhysicsCakes.

Something I will remember for a while is these little optical-fibre-alignment robot eyes (below) moving in some complicated dance to select the field of view for MOONS, eventually to be deployed on the Very Large Telescope in Chile.

* I see on the webpage the meeting is still “to be confirmed” but it really happened, honest.

About Jon Butterworth

UCL Physics prof, works on LHC, writes (books, Cosmic Shambles and elsewhere). Citizen of England, UK, Europe & Nowhere, apparently.
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