Our virtual (Zoom) guest speaker for this month is Sarah Caddy (PhD candidate at Macquarie University’s Dept of Physics and Astronomy) who will give a talk on “Optical and infrared space telescopes” (details below). This will be held on Tuesday 18th August at 7:30pm. This presentation is open to all (i.e. NSAS members and non-members). To register your interest, please click here.

David Wallace
NSAS Treasurer & Web-Master

Optical and infrared space telescopes have revolutionised our understanding of our place in the Universe. The Hubble Space Telescope unveiled a Universe much vaster than we could have ever imagined, capturing the minds and imaginations of a generation. It’s long awaited successor, the James Webb Space Telescope promises to further this legacy beyond our wildest imaginings. But all of this comes at a significant price, and the development of these complex giants of optical and infrared astronomy is often thought to be best left to the experienced veterans of the game – NASA.

However, we have arrived at a crucial point in Australia’s entrance into space science. The recent launch of the Australian Space Agency, fuelled by a growing presence in space around the world has ignited a drive to develop an Australian addition to the collection of space observatories. In this talk I will introduce you to SkyHopper, Australia’s first infrared, satellite based space telescope. SkyHopper combines the dexterity of a cube satellite with near real-time up and downlink. SkyHopper’s optical payload boasts a Hawaii-2rg detector developed for the James Webb Space Telescope itself and a novel, custom designed filter system which will enable it to simultaneous image in both broad and narrow band passes from 0.8 – 1.7 microns. SkyHopper’s sights will be set on identifying Earth-sized exoplanets around ultra-cool, low mass dwarf stars. It will perform rapid follow up of gamma ray bursts with the aim of identifying high redshift, gamma ray bust candidates, and it will capture the diffuse light from the first stars and galaxies that existed in the Universe known as the Cosmic Optical and Infrared Background. Finally, SkyHopper will present the unique opportunity for Astronomers around the country to perform research on a space telescope designed and built in Australia.