Lecture by astronaut at Unisa

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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.

Event detail:

[tr][td]9 November 17:00 – 18:30pm[/td][td]Public lecture at University of South Africa[/td][td]Pretoria[/td][td]UNISA[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]10 November 15:00 – 16:30pm[/td][td]Public lecture at University of the Free State[/td][td]Bloemfontein[/td][td]UFS/Boyden[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]11 November 15:00 – 16:30pm[/td][td]Public lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal[/td][td]Durban[/td][td]UKZN[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]12 November 15:00 – 16:30pm[/td][td]Public lecture at National Institute of Higher Education[/td][td]Kimberley[/td][td]NIHE[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]13 November 15:00 – 16:30pm[/td][td]Public lecture at Hermanus Magnetic Observatory[/td][td]Hermanus[/td][td]HMO[/td][/tr]


Trying to find out exactly where at Unisa, will update here.

The lecture will be in the ZK Matthews Great Hall, 2nd floor, Theo van Wijk Building.
900 people can be seated in the ZK Matthews Great Hall.

Thanks for this info, Mandarb!

If you would like to attend, please fill in this survey

Is there a cost involved here?

Nope. RSVP and pitch up, listen to a astronaut and get free food. :smiley:

Exciting! Thanks for the post!

Was awesome. Good lectures, Dr Hoffman spoke about his experiences on the Hubble mission, and how they fixed it, the scale of assembling the shuttle.
Dr Williams talked about the scientific results that Hubble has made possible, especially the existence of dark energy.
Dr McGruder talked about the Square Kilometer Array, learned a few things there I didn’t know, such as that the planned deployment for the SKA is based right over Africa, the most in the Karoo, but in Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Ghana, Kenya. Makes sense, it will allow for greater resolution in scientific sense, and also benefit those countries economically. The budget is also quite awesome, $2 Billion to build, and then $200 million each year to maintain. Not quite the scale of the LHC, but very awesome, and just as important scientifically.

Some interesting questions, mostly well handled. Best was a kid asking what was before the Big Bang. The answer, we don’t know :smiley:

If you can get to the other lectures at all, really do the effort.

Had to take photos with my cellphone, my camera’s batteries was done after TedX, and I didn’t realise it
The panel


One of Dr Hoffman’s slides, quoting JFK’s speech.


Dr McGruder


The SKA’s deployment. Blurry, but the yellow dots are the sites of the dishes.


Dr McGruder’s intro


Dr Hoffman’s intro


Dr Williams’ intro


Dr Williams explaining about how they detect planets by the dimming of the stars when planets pass in front of them


A shot from Dr Hoffman’s lecture, from a video that was shot out of the shuttle as they left Hubble