Monday, August 22, 2011

Alan Penny - We should talk about Aliens

In an article for the Guardian Science Blog, LOFAR-UK member Dr. Alan Penny from the University of St. Andrews, argues that we should think more about what to say to aliens if we ever do detect them.

"We Need to Talk about Aliens"

Alan is leading efforts to run test SETI observations using the LOFAR-UK station in stand-alone mode (ie. not connected to the rest of the LOFAR array).

LOFAR at the BAA Radio Astronomy Group 2011 General Meeting

At the 2011 General Meeting of the British Astronomical Association's Radio Astronomy Group (to be held 12th November 2011 at the Humfrey Rooms, Castilian Terrace, Northampton), the two keynote speakers have a LOFAR-UK link. They are Professor Paul Alexander, who is Head of the Astrophysics Group at Cambridge is the project leader for the UK contribution to the Square Kilometre Array (and a member of LOFAR-UK), and Dr Ben Stappers from Jodrell Bank who is Head of the Pulsar Science Working Group for the LOFAR radio telescope (and Technical Co-ordinator for LOFAR-UK). 

For more details see the BAA Radio Group website

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Portsmouth College Work Experience Student Makes LOFAR-UK Poster

Last week at ICG, Portsmouth we hosted a local A-level student from Portsmouth College who made the below LOFAR-UK poster. We hope to use this poster locally in Hampshire to advertise the world class radio telescope on our doorstep.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Solar and Space Weather KSP Meeting

Members of the Solar and Space Weather Key Science Project for LOFAR met for a workshop in Aberystwyth on the west coast of Wales at the end of June.  The Workshop focused on the progress achieved so far in using LOFAR to obtain images of the solar corona, using the dynamic spectrum (2D plots of time versus frequency) to identify and mitigate interference and obtain measurements of interplanetary scintillation (the scintillation of radio sources due to density variations in the solar wind).  Results so far look encouraging and compare favourably with similar measurements taken on traditional instruments but much work remains to be done.  Participants also had time to enjoy the environs of Aberystwyth and it's various pubs and restaurants!

(with thanks to Richard Fallows for this report). 

Friday, August 5, 2011

LOFAR related postdocs at CEA Saclay (near Paris)

Another job advert for two postdoc positions at CEA Saclay near Paris working on detection of radio transients - including for the LOFAR Transient Key Project.

AAS Job Register posting (copied below).

Applications are invited for two postdoctoral positions in signal processing/data analysis for an initial period of 2 years, with the UnivEarthsS LabEx program.
The astrophysics division of CEA Saclay is offering two positions to work with Professor St├ęphane Corbel on radio transients in close collaboration with Jean-Luc Starck. Over the next decade, a combination of increased sensitivity, larger field of view, and algorithmic developments will open up the time domain to a wide range of astronomical fields, from stellar flares and supernovae to neutron-star and black-hole births, quakes and instabilities. Radio astronomy is leading this effort and transient science is identified as a key goal for LOFAR (Europe), ASKAP (Autralia) and MeerKAT (South Africa), the precursor instruments of the major international SKA facility to be developed for 2020+.
The applicant will work in one of these related topics:
  -Transient search in one of the affiliated key projects: TKP (LOFAR), ThunderKAT (MeerKAT), VAST (ASKAP),
  - Optimization of current methods and development of near real-time detection pipelines,
  - Characterization of transients and identification at other wavelengths,
  - Image reconstruction from undersampled Fourier measurements.
Minimum qualifications include an undergraduate degree or higher in astronomy, physics, computer science, statistics or related field. The candidate must have a strong motivation in developing statistical methods and applying them in large international projects. CEA Saclay ( ) is located 25km south of Paris, near Universities and other research centers. The astrophysics division gathers more than 150 faculty and staff members, studying a large range of astrophysical problems.
The positions are initially for two years and the starting dates should be between early Fall 2011 and early 2012. Ample funding for conferences, collaborations, personal equipment and publication is available. Applicants should submit by email resume, bibliography and a brief research plans to St├ęphane Corbel ( and Jean-Luc Starck ( and arrange for three reference letters to be sent as well before 31 August 2011.

LOFAR to be subject of an RAS Public Lecture

LOFAR is to be the subject of an upcoming Public Lectures hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society, on 10th January 2012.

The talk, LOFAR: A Radio Telescope the Size of Northern Europe will be given by LOFAR-UK and Transients Key Project member Dr. Edward Daws from the University of Sheffield.

RAS Pubic Lectures are 45-minute lunchtime talks for non-specialists. Members of the public can listen to leading scientists talk about their work.
Place: Lecture Theatre, Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.
Time: 1pm, second Tuesday of the month.

'Friends of the RAS' are encouraged to reserve a seat, subject to availability, by email (to ) or letter up until 10am on the day of the lecture. Seats, in the reserved area of the lecture theatre, will be kept until 1255 (when they will be released). Simply turn up before 1255 – but please do sit in the reserved, central, rows!

Seats cannot be guaranteed for ‘Friends’ who do not reserve them. However, subject to availability, they will be admitted into the non-reserved seating area or the Council Room (where the lecture will be relayed on a plasma screen). To improve your chance of a seat in the lecture theatre you should arrive before 1245.

After 1245 ‘non-Friends’ will be admitted, subject to availability, to the  non-reserved seating area or the Council Room. Before 1245 ‘non-Friends’ will be held in a queue outside the building. Please note advance seat reservation is restricted to 'Friends'.

Summaries of (some) previous lectures can be read on the 'Friends of the RAS' web site

For further information call 020 7734 3307 / 4582