2012 – the year of Astronomy meetings

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Its mid April 2012, and finally I have some time to write an entry. Again its been almost an year since my last post – so much for trying to make regular entries – the fact is there is so much going on in the life of an Astronomer + mother combined. In this post I’ll try give a glimpse of what has happened over the past year or so, and an outlook for 2012 – which seems to be riddled with meetings!

One of the key things that happened last year was the formation of the GALAH survey and team. GALAH stands for GALactic Archaeology with HERMES. I wrote about HERMES in a previous post. GALAH is the survey team that will use the HERMES instrument to carry out a million star survey of the Milky Way. Using HERMES spectra the team will measure over 15 chemical elements in each star, as well as information about the stars properties (temperature, gravity and velocity). Its is the first time such a large survey is being carried out and we expect lots of science will result with such a dataset. The primary science goal of the survey is to identify the building blocks of the Milky Way using their chemical fingerprint – the work that I started since my PhD. HERMES is being built as we speak and survey plans are coming together with the formation of working groups and development of data handling software. Both HERMES and GALAH plan to take flight in 2013!! Click on the logo to see the GALAH survey website.

Other highlights of last year was winning two awards.

1. I won the Louise Webster Prize from the Astronomical Society of Australia. It is awarded in “recognition of outstanding research by a scientist early in their post-doctoral career”, which I was extremely pleased and honored to have received.

2. I was granted an Innovation Scholarship Award by the Australian Government Department of Innovation. I will use the grant of $20K to host an International workshop on Galactic Archaeology Surveys here in Sydney. The meeting is timed for the GALAH survey, so that we can learn about the latest research in this field and also tips on successful surveys in terms of technicalities of running a major survey. Here is the link to the survey website: http://physics.mq.edu.au/astronomy/ga-surveys/

Speaking of meetings, there are plenty coming up over this year – several major ones right here in Australia.

In addition to “my” workshop on Galactic Archaeology Surveys, there is a meeting on Multi-Wavelength surveys in the Hunter valley in June. I hope to attend this meeting to talk about HERMES and the GALAH survey.

There is also the Nuclei in the Cosmos (NIC) meeting in Carins in August. NIC 2012 is a major gathering of International physicists, bridging the fields of nuclear physics and astrophysics, with expected participants of over 300 people!   I am part of the organizing committee helping out the team with their many tasks, and also planning to attend and make a presentation.

This year is also the year of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly – hosted in Beijing, China. While I would have liked to attend, the number of meetings already in Aus and ramping up of work towards the finishing HERMES is going to keep me busy well into the next year.

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