Gary Davis: Beyond The Fringe: Astronomy with Invisible Light

Professor Gary Davis is an astrophysicist. He was educated in Canada and England, receiving his doctorate from Oxford University in 1987. He then held a research fellowship at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory before returning to Canada in 1991 as a Professor of Physics at the University of Saskatchewan. In 2002 he was appointed Director of the UK’s two telescopes on Maunakea in Hawaii, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, a position he held for 13 years. Following his return to the UK he was the Director of Operations Planning at the SKA Organisation until his recent retirement.

Gary’s research has focussed on the formation and evolution of planetary systems, using various techniques of infrared spectroscopy from the ground and from space. He received a Certificate of Recognition from the European Space Agency in 1999, and three Group Achievement Awards from the Royal Astronomical Society. In recognition of his career achievements he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree by McMaster University in 2012.

Talk: Beyond The Fringe: Astronomy with Invisible Light

Astronomy is based on the detection and analysis of light we receive from objects in the sky. Progress in our understanding of the universe comes through advances in light-detection technology: we continue to build bigger and more sensitive telescopes in order to address challenging problems and discover new phenomena.

For more than 30 years, the UK operated two observatories at the summit of Maunakea on the island of Hawaii: the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope. Both telescopes observe the heavens using forms of light that cannot be seen with the naked eye. In this talk I will describe why we do this challenging type of astronomy, why we go to places like Maunakea to do it, and what we achieved there. Along the way I will also reflect on the importance of astronomy for understanding our place in the Universe, and why science is such a powerful approach to understanding the world in which we live.

Dot Talks, Star Pavilion Saturday 2019

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