UK Report

Royal Observatory Edinburgh Open Door Event

The historic Royal Observatory Edinburgh opened its doors to the public during September, showcasing the exciting science and engineering projects being carried out there. Nearly 4,000 people attended the two-day event in Edinburgh as part of the city-wide ‘Doors Open Day’.


Photo courtesy of STFC

Adults and children alike were inspired by the science and engineering behind the SKA, as they got to grips with our new interactive SKA exhibit featuring models of the SKA dishes and antennas, and built their own models of the SKA dishes out of Lego. Scientists and engineers working on the design and construction of the SKA were on hand to answer questions and explain how the SKA will revolutionise our understanding of the Universe.


Photo courtesy of STFC

The event capped a successful summer of engagement in the UK that included the Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank, the Daresbury Open Week, Astrotram and the indigenous art-astronomy Shared Sky exhibition as part of the Euro Science Open Forum (ESOF) in Manchester.

Physics Industry Days at UK Universities

The University of Manchester and University of Oxford are both playing significant roles in the design and construction of the SKA. Both Universities recently held Physics Industry Days providing an opportunity to showcase their world-leading research to representatives from the industrial sector, including the innovative work being done within the SKA design consortia.

The University of Manchester

The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester hosted an Industry day in July 2016, organised by the School’s Technology Translation Fellow, Dr Alick Deacon. Around 50 representatives from local, national and international businesses, covering areas from engineering to software development, participated in the event. Talks from senior academics within the School were followed by case studies, where current industrial partners were able to provide their own experiences of collaborating with the University.


University of Manchester, School of Physics and Astronomy Industry Day Photo courtesy of University of Manchester

After lunch, an area allocated to the SKA allowed industrial representatives to meet some of the main academics and researchers involved with the project. Presentations outlining the opportunities for industrial collaboration, including both hardware and software requirements, were combined with posters and animations providing further information. Senior staff from the University, including Professor Keith Grainge who leads the Signal and Data Transport (SADT) consortium, and Dr Anna Scaife who leads the University of Manchester work on the Imaging pipeline for the Science Data Processor (SDP), were on hand to provide further details and contact information for interested industry partners.

The University of Oxford

More than 60 representatives from businesses across the UK attended the Oxford University, Department of Physics Industry Open Day in September 2016, organised by the Senior Knowledge Exchange Facilitator, Dr Phillip Tait. Participants were given the opportunity to tour the Department’s Facilities and workshops before receiving a series of keynote talks from senior staff within the Department.


Delegates at the 2016 University of Oxford, Physics Industry Day Photo courtesy of University of Oxford

A Research and Technology Showcase event allowed the Industry delegates time to network with academics and students and to explore avenues for future collaboration. The Square Kilometre Array was featured within the Showcase event, with posters showing the various aspects of the SKA design and development that Oxford staff are involved in. Delegates had an opportunity to put their questions to the engineers and scientists who are designing the SKA, including Dr Aris Karastergiou, who is leading the University of Oxford work on the Non-Imaging Processing for the Pulsar Search and Timing element of the SKA.


University of Oxford, Physics Industry Day- Showcase Event Photo courtesy of University of Oxford

Report provided by Hilary Kay, UK SKA Outreach Officer