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As Public Astronomer I help to ensure that the Royal Observatory’s exhibitions, talks and planetarium shows accurately reflect the latest findings in astronomy. I also help to explain new discoveries in space to the public and press.
The question I'm asked most often
Do you believe in aliens?
I’d love to think that there are intelligent beings out there that we could communicate with, and maybe learn from. Certainly we’re finding more and more evidence that life of some kind might be possible elsewhere in the Universe, and this makes it an incredibly exciting time to be an astronomer. So far though we haven’t found any signs of intelligent life beyond the Earth. But who knows? A message could arrive tomorrow!
My favourite part of my job
No two days are the same for me, which I love. I can be planning a new astronomy exhibition, talking to school pupils about black holes or being interviewed by journalists about a new discovery. I also have to find time to keep up with the latest research, although now I need to be on the ball about the whole of space science not just my own field of distant galaxies – so it keeps me quite busy.
My 'must see' in the Museum
- The planetarium is always an amazing experience and there’s a constantly changing selection of shows to see.
- I also love William Herschel’s burning glass, a giant magnifying glass which he used to discover infrared radiation. Without it, none of our current infrared technology would exist – from TV remote controls to night-vision goggles.
- But I think my favorite object has to be the Nakhla meteorite. It’s a tiny piece of rock, but it’s come all the way from Mars. So we have a piece of the Red Planet here in Greenwich.