Pia Wadjarri Students Visit the MRO

CASS astronomers Karen Lee-Waddell and Craig Anderson, accompanied by Education Specialist Rob Hollow and Indigenous Liaison Officer Leonie Boddington visited the Pia Wadjarri Remote Community School in October. They spent the day working with students on a range of astronomy activities plus some solar viewing. The students made model radio telescopes, learnt more about how they work and about how Karen and Craig became astronomers and what they do. The day finished off with everyone tasting the ‘Roo Ragout that the students had been slow cooking since the previous day – a tasty end to a packed day.

On the following day the students and staff from Pia visited the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) for their annual visit. There they explored the control building, toured the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) antennas before a tasty lunch. They then visited the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) before departing back to Pia.


Dr Karen Lee-Waddell helping Pia Wadjarri Remote Community School students observe the Sun safely. Credit: R. Hollow)


Pia Wadjarri remote Community Schools students displaying their model SKA antennas in front of an ASKAP dish. Credit: R. Hollow

CASS/SKA SA Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship Program Commences

CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science and SKA South Africa have established a new collaborative scholarship programme to enable South African university students to visit Australia to work on research projects under the supervision of CASS staff over the summer. The first successful scholars, Tokiso Motoai from Free State University and Katherine James from Rhodes University arrived in Sydney in early December to start their scholarship programme.

Tokiso is working with Dr George Hobbs on “Parkes and MeerKAT synergies for pulsar observing” whilst Katherine is working with Professor Ray Norris on “Using Machine Learning to get science from ASKAP.” In addition to their working on their project the scholars will participate in all the other activities of the well-established CSIRO undergraduate vacation scholarship programme for Australian students. These include background lectures on a diverse range of radio astronomy observing, instrumentation and engineering talks plus an observing trip to the Australia Telescope Compact Array in Northern NSW where each group will tackle an observing task of their choosing. All the students will present talks at the student symposium in February 2017.

This new programme provides a wonderful opportunity for students from South Africa and Australia to meet, collaborate and develop new skills and networks.


Katherine James and Tokiso Motoai, the first CSIRO/SKA SA Undergraduate Scholars. Credit: R. Hollow

Report provided by the CSIRO