ZA SKA bid: NASA astronaut on tour

posted: 2515 days ago, on Sunday, 2010 Oct 31 at 17:30
tags: astronomy, space, astronomy media, SKA.

An astronaut from the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is to hold public lectures during a visit to South Africa from 8 to 15 November 2010. The astronaut, Dr Jeff Hoffman, will be accompanied by Dr Robert Williams, President of the International Astronomical Union, and Prof. Charles McGruder of Western Kentucky University.

They are visiting South Africa to increase awareness of science though astronomy. This is a timely visit considering that Africa is bidding to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. If Africa wins the bid to host the SKA this would mean an investment of about $15 billion in Africa over 50 years. The majority of the investment would go to South Africa. As part of the bid, South Africa is building the Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT), which will be a world class telescope in its own right.

Dr Hoffman, who became an astronaut in 1979, was assigned to the shuttle space flight missions to repair the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This is regarded as one of the most successful telescopes ever built in terms of recognition by the public. Dr Hoffman was also one of the four spacewalking astronauts for the first HST servicing mission in 1993. He last flew on the Shuttle Columbia. In his five space flights, Hoffman has logged more than 1 211 hours in space and travelled more than 34,6 million km.

Dr Williams is tasked with growing astronomy interest internationally, and arranges public lecture tours by NASA astronauts. Prof. McGruder is an astronomer who will give public lectures on the science of the SKA.

Lectures will be given in five South African cities (Pretoria, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Durban and Hermanus).

There will be a photo op with the Minister for Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, in Cape Town on 9 November 2010 at 09:00 in the Minister's office, 10th Floor, 100 Plein Street.


9 November (07:40, Morning Live with Min. Pandor, Cape Town)
9 November (17:00, UNISA, Pretoria)
10 November (15:00, UFS/Boyden, Bloemfontein)
11 November (15:00, UKZN, Durban)
12 November (15:00, NIHE, Kimberley)
13 November (15:00, HMO, Hermanus)
15 November (am, MTN Science Centre, Cape Town)

Background information

Prof. Charles H. McGruder III


Ph.D. in Astronomy, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, 1974
B.S. in Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, 1965

Professional Experience
William McCormick Professor of Astronomy, Western Kentucky University, 2002-present
Professor and Head, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Western Kentucky University, 1993-2002
Adjunct Professor of Astronomy, Vanderbilt University, 1991 to present
Full Professor, Physics Department, Fisk University, 1990 to 1993
Visiting Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Western Kentucky University,1989 to 1990
Lecturer, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, 1978 to 1989
Postdoctoral Studies, University of Heidelberg, 1976 to 1977

Professional Associations: American Astronomical Society, National Society of Black Physicists (past President)

Research Interests: General Relativity, Extrasolar Planets, Gamma-Ray Bursts, and Eclipsing Binaries

Title of Talk: Africa and Astronomy - The present state and the future of Astronomy in Africa with an emphasis on opportunities will be discussed.

Dr. Robert Williams

Distinguished Research Scholar & former Director, Hubble Space Telescope Institute (Baltimore)

President, International Astronomical Union

Dr. Robert Williams is the Distinguished Research Scholar of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, USA, and he served as Director of the Institute from 1993-98. The Institute operates Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. Dr. Williams spent 8 years in Chile as Director of the national observatory of the U.S. in the southern hemisphere.

Williams received his education from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin. He received an Alexander von Humboldt Award from the German government in 1991 for his original research, and he was awarded the Beatrice Tinsley Prize of the American Astronomical Society for his leadership of the Hubble Deep Field project, mankind's deepest view into space which revealed the early universe with Hubble Telescope. For this project he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 1999. Dr. Williams is currently President of the International Astronomical Union.

Dr. Williams' research specialties are exploding stars and galaxies. He is a strong advocate for science education and outreach and their impact on economic development, and he gives many lectures around the world on the recent discoveries about the universe from Hubble Telescope.

Jeffrey A. Hoffman

Wikipedia entry

via: DST Press Release

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