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Media advisory: Discover the world’s largest radio telescope at the ESOF 2016 conference

The Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest radio telescope when built and which has its headquarters at Jodrell Bank near Manchester, will be heavily featured as part of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) international conference in Manchester on July 23-July 27. Here is the detail of where you can catch us to learn more about the project.

July 23 & 24, Jodrell Bank: Jodrell Bank Observatory will be hosting the Bluedot festival on July 22, 23 and 24. The SKA will have a unique presence including engineering activities for children developed by the Jodrell Bank education team, as well as a number of talks on stage on Sunday afternoon from some of the team’s engineers and astronomers. You’re most welcome to attend any of these talks and to visit us at the SKA stand!

July 24, 1pm-2pm, Manchester Central Library: Vernissage of the SKA’s Shared Sky indigenous astronomy art exhibition. The exhibition brings together works of art inspired by the night sky from the SKA sites in Australia and South Africa. The exhibition will be opened by Prof. Philip Diamond, Director-General of the SKA Organisation, in the presence of some of the artists. Following the speeches, delegates will have the opportunity to discover the 35 fantastic artworks included in this unique exhibition, where ancestral myths and indigenous art meet science. Registrations by Thursday 21 July at: Drinks and canapés will be served upon arrival.

July 24, 3pm-5pm, ESOF opening ceremony: The SKA will take an active role in the opening ceremony during a dedicated 20min slot on radio astronomy driven by Prof. Brian Cox, featuring a live video link with Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester, home of the SKA Headquarters, as well as the SKA sites in South Africa and Australia.

July 25, Manchester Central (ESOF venue):

  • Big Data session, 8:30am – 9:45am: From Turing to the Big Data deluge. We will discuss where big data is going in the next decade and how this will benefit society as a whole in this session animated by French science journalist Dominique Leglu and attended by big data experts from Industry and National laboratories.
  • Science policy session, 3:45pm – 6:15pm: Big projects – going beyond the realm of science. The SKA project offers a canvas on which a new kind of science diplomacy takes place: one that has the potential to support development agendas in a progressive way, empowering nations and people through training, education and access and exposure to new technologies. Are we ready to accept the challenge of exploiting the numerous possibilities created by global science projects like the SKA? We will discuss this in a session comprising vey high-level panelists and driven by British science journalist Pallab Ghosh.


July 26, Manchester Central (ESOF venue):

  • Keynote talk, 08:30am – 09:45am: Big science, new collaborations and engagement with society: the SKA as a 21st Century exemplar. A talk delivered by Professor Brian P. Schmidt, 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University;
  • Press conference, 10:00am – 10:30am, Press conference room, Manchester Central (ESOF venue): A press conference to discuss early science from MeerKAT, the South African SKA precursor telescope, in the presence of Dr Fernando Camilo, SKA South Africa Chief Scientist;
  • Science session, 10:00am – 12:30pm: To the ends of the Earth – cracking the mysteries of physics. A fascinating session driven by Indian science journalist Anil Ananthaswamy to discuss how the next generation of large-scale science facilities are taking us to the ends of the Earth and increasingly inhospitable environments, from deep underground or deep into the ice, to remote deserts and even into orbit in search of the quietest, best possible conditions to push our knowledge of physics further.
  • Science in Society session, 15:45pm – 17:00pm: Society as a collaborator, science as a benefactor. In this session driven by South African science journalist Sarah Wild, we will explore society’s growing expectations to be informed of research, in line with its values for transparency, and also increasingly to have a say through social media and its desire to engage with research through citizen science.


Media visit at the SKA Headquarters

A media visit at the SKA Headquarters may be organised Wednesday 27 July if there is sufficient interest. Transport will be provided to and from Manchester, but spaces are limited. Please let us know if you would be interested in taking part.


If you would like to arrange interviews with astronomers, engineers or other experts working on the SKA at or around any of these events, please feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to accommodate your request.



William Garnier
Director of Communications, Outreach and Education
+44 7814 908 932

Mathieu Isidro
Deputy Communications Manager
+44 7824 016 126