Monday, March 2, 2015

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party

On March 20th the moon will pass almost directly between the Earth and the Sun causing a Solar eclipse, which will be visible from the UK, with the moon obscuring 90% of the Sun between ~8-11am
Join students and staff at the University of Exeter for a solar eclipse viewing party on the south piazza of The Forum from 8am.
We have a huge number of ways that you can safely view the eclipse event so come along and get involved in this unique opportunity.

 Facebook event page

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Top Female Scientists Card Game

Hannah Wakeford and Simon Clark, showcase the
Top Female Scientist Game they created.
Over the last month or so my co-host of The Science Hour on XpressionFM, Simon Clark, and I have
been developing a comparative card game of some of the greatest Female Scientists throughout history.

There are 32 in total across maths, physics, biology, chemistry and geology - where each card has characteristics of Innovation, Impact, Obscurity and Badassery as well as a short biography. We hope that while the public will enjoy playing the game and hopefully learn about the scientists covered, our real goal is for the cards to be used as a classroom tool - specifically to encourage girls to engage with science. Many girls are put off studying science at school because they perceive it to be a very male-dominated subject, and one problem in particular is that they seem unaware of the female heritage in science. Most people can't name more than 5 or 6 famous female scientists, and yet some stellar women have contributed so much to our understanding of science. So we wanted to try and correct that.

I am really proud of these cards and I think that they are a great way to get students of any gender involved in science. There is a huge history of scientists that we are not aware of and this is just scratching the surface of some of the most amazing scientists that have graced our world.

You can find Simon and myself on Twitter (@simonoxfphys@stellarplanet) for more posts, or follow the #XSH.
To download your own copy you can get them here for free!

Imgur Album

You can also listen to The Science Hour whenever and wherever you are via our online archive

We also produced a promo video which can be found on our Facebook page for #XSH

Facebook Page for The Science Hour on XpressionFM

In addition for those of you who enjoy 'internetting' here are the links to our Reddit posts


Ladies of Science


Everything Science

Science Teachers


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Exoplanet Playlist

Our S02E09 episode of The Science Hour on XpressionFM was focused on exoplanets and the work that is being done around the world to investigate these strange new worlds. And as such I enlisted the help of twitter to find us the playlist for the show. As everyone came up with so many suggestions I thought I would put together the exoplanet playlist for everyone.


Earthbound - Our own little planet has many, many songs written about it but these are two which I think were more radio show worthy, and I just really enjoy the title of the Foster the People song, not much room for interpretation on that one.
  1. Jamiroquai - Planet Home
  2. Foster the People -  A Beginners Guide to Destroying the Moon

Martian - There are a lot of songs with Mars in the title or related to the red planet but these were the ones chosen
  1. Bowie - Life on Mars
  2. Misfits - I Turned into a Martian

The Solar System - Again loads of songs to choose from here. The first thing that came to my mind was Drops of Jupiter by Train, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Hendrix - Valleys of Neptune to represent our outer solar system.
  1. Stevie wonder - Saturn
  2. Jimi Hendrix - Valleys of Neptune
  3. Tinie Tempah - Children of the Sun

Detection - The starlight we use to detect exoplanets can be interpreted from these song titles. That's the way I am taking them anyway. As pointed out by one suggestion on Twitter the song 'True Colors' could be used to signify the emission spectra of exoplanets where we are able to detect their true visible color spectrum.
  1. Bruce Springsteen - Blinded by the Light
  2. Kanye West - All of the Lights
  3. Phantom Planet - One Ray of Sunlight
  4. Phill colins - True Colors

Exolanets - This is slightly harder. The word exoplanets has not yet made it into song titles. But these ones can be used as a loose interpretation of alien worlds or planets themselves (though some I assume are referring to our solar system we can give them a broader context here).
  1. Aladdin - A Whole New World
  2. Stevie Nicks - Planets of the Universe
  3. Avenged Sevenfold - Planets
  4. Flaming Lips - Watching the Planets

Random - While the Beastie Boys song does start with the statement 'Intergalactic planetary' and repeats it over and over again for the 'chorus' it becomes a little more abstract on the subject from then on but still warrants a mention. Another song that nicely fits in here is Debutante by 65 Days of Static which was suggested by a friend on Twitter and is a beautiful instrumental track which certainly takes on a spacey quality to it.
  1. Beastie Boys - Intergalactic
  2. 65 Days of Static - Debutante (No Man's Sky)

What's on your Exoplanet playlist?

And if you want to listen to the whole show and hear the songs we selected and some truly atrocious segues then enjoy. (or try our Soundcloud link)

Friday, October 3, 2014

gizoogle up my science!

This is what happens when you my abstract for our latest scientific publication

'Transmission spectral properties of clouds for hot Jupiter exoplanets'

"Cloudz have a blingin role up in tha atmospherez of hoodary bodies. Well shiiit, it is expected that, like all tha hoodary bodies up in our solar system, exoplanet atmospheres will also have substantial cloud coverage, n' evidence is mountin fo' cloudz up in a fuckin shitload of bangin' Jupiters. In order ta mo' betta characterise hoodary atmospheres we need ta consider tha effects these cloudz gonna git on tha observed broadband transmission spectra yo. Here we examine tha expected cloud condensate species fo' bangin' Jupiter exoplanets n' tha effectz of various grain sizes n' distributions on tha resultant transmission spectra from tha optical ta infrared, which can be used as a funky-ass broad framework when interpretin exoplanet spectra. We note dat dope infrared absorption features step tha fuck up in tha computed transmission spectrum, tha result of vibrationizzle modes between tha key species up in each condensate, which can potentially be straight-up constraining. While it may be hard ta differentiate between individual condensates up in tha broad transmission spectra, it may be possible ta discern different vibrationizzle bonds, which can distinguish between cloud formation scenarios like fuckin condensate cloudz or photochemically generated species. Put ya muthafuckin choppers up if ya feel dis! Vibrationizzle mode features is shown ta be prominent when tha cloudz is composed of lil' small-ass sub-micron sized particlez n' can be associated wit a accompanyin optical scatterin slope. These infrared features have potential implications fo' future exoplanetary atmosphere studies conducted wit JWST, where such vibrationizzle modes distinguishin condensate species can be probed at longer wavelengths."

and here is the original. I honestly do not know which one to include in my thesis

"Clouds have an important role in the atmospheres of planetary bodies. It is expected that, like all the planetary bodies in our solar system, exoplanet atmospheres will also have substantial cloud coverage, and evidence is mounting for clouds in a number of hot Jupiters. In order to better characterise planetary atmospheres we need to consider the effects these clouds will have on the observed broadband transmission spectra. Here we examine the expected cloud condensate species for hot Jupiter exoplanets and the effects of various grain sizes and distributions on the resultant transmission spectra from the optical to infrared, which can be used as a broad framework when interpreting exoplanet spectra. We note that significant infrared absorption features appear in the computed transmission spectrum, the result of vibrational modes between the key species in each condensate, which can potentially be very constraining. While it may be hard to differentiate between individual condensates in the broad transmission spectra, it may be possible to discern different vibrational bonds, which can distinguish between cloud formation scenarios such as condensate clouds or photochemically generated species. Vibrational mode features are shown to be prominent when the clouds are composed of small sub-micron sized particles and can be associated with an accompanying optical scattering slope. These infrared features have potential implications for future exoplanetary atmosphere studies conducted with JWST, where such vibrational modes distinguishing condensate species can be probed at longer wavelengths."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NTT Observing Trip - Video Blog

Day One

Traveling from London - Madrid - Santiago - ESO Guesthouse

Having a look around Santiago on the first day out. It was raining quite a bit but I manged to find my way into town and back.

To boldly go where no Wakeford has gone before; Leaving on a jet plane; EvilRegal Hard Rock Cafe Santiago;
Polinesia Pisco; Santiago in the gloom

Day Two

Travel from Santiago heading north to La Serena followed by a bus trip up to the summit of La Silla

Morning coffee at ESO Guesthouse, Santiago; Desert fox up on La Silla; The NTT in the sunshine;
Looking down the mountain to the control room; The southern stars shining above the domes.

Day Three

Taking a little walk around the summit of La Silla

Over looking La Silla and all of the telescopes on the summit.
We also managed to find a physics gnome on the way up.

The 3.6m telescope at the very summit of La Silla

Sunset over the Atacama desert from the summit of La Silla with the 0.5m Danish telescope and the 0.6m in the foreground

Day Four

Our first night of observations at the NTT, While we were able to open up the dome and observe for the whole night the data may be a little difficult due to large fluctuations in the Earth's atmosphere which are more prominent at the wavelengths we are using.

Day Five

The wind has died down, the sky has cleared and observations are about to begin. Tonight we are monitoring a brown dwarf similar to Beta Pic to see if it is variable, followed by multi-wavelength observations of a faint brown dwarf until sunrise.

The second night of observing with NTT started with a trip up to the 3.6m telescope to open the dome and watch the sunset and get some pictures.
View from the walkway of the 3.6m telescope during sunset at the summit of La Silla.

Day Six

It is the 3rd night of observing with the NTT and the sky is covered in consistent thin cloud which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Tonight I am running the show to get an idea of how everything works and gain some experience to run solo observing in the future.

Day Seven

Today we got to take a trip up to the NTT to see the instruments and the opening of the dome.

View of Las Campanas from La Silla, The NTT dome opening, View over La Silla,
Inside the NTT dome; closed and open,
EFOSC instrument, astronomers under the NTT, SOFI instrument.

Cutting some shapes!

It is the last night of observing at the NTT and we have been getting some great data. Now all that is left to do is stay awake.

Day Eight

The night merges into the day when you re-shift from night observing to the land of the living. We took the afternoon to go in search of the famous La Silla Petroglyphs.

A word of warning for all who wish to pass into the desert, Down the mountain looking up at the telescopes,
This ancient petroglyph that we found does not appear to be on any "map" of the site.

A panoramic view of the mountain desert from La Silla,
Having fun with a shadow show,
The view of our walk while searching for petroglyphs.

SUNSET on the final night at La Silla Observatory 

The clouds make for a beautiful sunset but generally bad for observations. No green flash tonight.

Day Nine

Las day at La Silla Observatory. It has been a great learning experience and at times a great adventure. Thanks to all who were here and made it a great observing run - including at times mother nature taking pity on us.

One last selfie trip around La Silla Observatory

Day Ten

Last full day in Chile hanging around Santiago. I spent the morning at the National Air and Space Museum before heading back to the ESO Guesthouse for a dip in the pool.

It has been a great trip and thanks to all those who contributed to it with their hospitality.

Museo Aeronautical y del Espacio Santiago (National Air and Space Museum)