Big Astronomy meets in Sicily

This is it.

As I write these first lines on the plane from London to Catania, Sicily, over 260 astronomers from all around the world are travelling to gather in the little Sicilian town of Giardini Naxos, Sicily.

Why? To share the latest developments in astronomy and discuss how these will affect what kind of science the SKA will be doing. In a way, it’s kind of like a summer camp for astronomers…

Astronomers specialising in many different fields, from cosmology to magnetism, pulsars, etc. will come to share their latest research.

Some 10 years ago, the same thing was done to write a book. This book, based on the research done at the time, gave a better idea of what science the SKA should focus on (we obviously can’t do everything!), and how it should go about tackling this research.

Of course, a lot has changed in ten years. Astronomy advances really fast, and many things have been learnt since then. We understand gravity better, we’ve detected the Higgs Boson, we’ve adjusted the age of the Universe, found more evidence of the Universe’s inflation, observed evidence of the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy, and we think we might have found evidence of gravitational waves. Moreover, the telescope is now nearing a final design, which obviously has a strong influence on what science can be done with I. So it was high time to gather and discuss the latest and refine what the SKA should look for, and how.

This is what will be done, and a new science book will be written to guide the SKA’s main research areas.

Excitement is building up and I look forward to a lot of fascinating talks, and maybe some exciting news too during the week, but more on this later! There will be a press conference on Friday and I hope to be able to write another blogpost then to summarise the results of the conference.

Until then, arrivederci!

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