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Powerful telescopes bring space to Eisteddfod field

01 August 2008

A special Observatory will bring live images of distant stars and galaxies everyday to the Eisteddfod this year - a feature that festival organisers are certain will be a massive hit.

The nine by nine metre Observatory, in the Science and Technology Pavilion, has been devised by staff from the Faulkes Telescope Project, based in Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

Beaming live images via two two powerful robotic telescopes based in Hawaii and Australia the live link up will be able to provide clear and dramatic views of the cosmos.

Visitors will also be able to use laptops to experiment with the Big Bang Simulator, trying to create their own software mini-universes. The Observatory will also offer a glimpse of the pioneering work that is carried out every day at Cardiff University, including the development of instruments which will be part of a new space mission, Herschel and Planck, to be launched early in 2009.

"The Eisteddfod will be a great opportunity for visitors to see the sort of cutting-edge research that is going on in Wales," said Dr Paul Roche, of the School of Physics and Astronomy.

"We have scientists working at the forefront of modern astronomy, building instruments that will give us a better understanding of everything around us."

Three different workshops - Solar, Rocket and Down to Earth - will be held near the Observatory when children can "launch" their own water rockets.

Down to Earth is a joint project run with the National Museum Wales, and involves handling real meteors and dinosaur fossils.

Daily Schedule

10am - 11am - Astronomy Workshop

11am - 12pm - Observing stars and galaxies

2pm - 3pm - Astronomy Workshop

3pm - 4pm - Observing stars and galaxies


Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy

Cardiff has a large and successful School of Physics and Astronomy, attracting some 300 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Physics research is focused in two areas: condensed matter physics and optoelectronics. Researchers are using theoretical and practical techniques to answer fundamental questions about the electrical, magnetic and optical properties of new semiconducting materials and investigating the design and fabrication of new optoelectronic devices. The School has extensive facilities for building and investigating devices made from these new materials. The most spectacular results come from ultra-thin sandwich structures. The novel properties of these devices are being exploited in the design of lasers and detectors.

For researchers and students of astronomy, the School offers modern astronomical laboratories with optical, radio and solar telescopes. The University’s Astrophysics Research Group and the Astronomy Instrumentation Research Group are two of the most vigorous in the UK. Members of the groups regularly use the three main British observatories in Hawaii, the Canary Islands and Australia, and they also use the Hubble Space Telescope and other space observatories. There is also an active theory group that uses computers to investigate the physics of stars and galaxies, and a group developing techniques for detecting gravitational waves, a prediction of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. It is also ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education (THE).

2008 marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University having been founded by Royal Charter in 1883.

Today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at:

Further Information:

For more information, please contact:

Dr Paul Roche, School of Physics and Astronomy

M: 07979 096 750