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Episode #

8

Examining the Cosmos from Earth with Astrophysicist Eloise Moore

Eloise Moore

June 23, 2022

Episode Show Notes

June 23, 2022

In this episode we meet Eloise Moore, a master’s of astrophysics student at the University of Western Australia and a telescope technician at the Zadko Observatory. While Eloise’s background is not in design or a purely creative industry, the ways in which she applies creative elements of photography to her work, are quite inspiring.

Featured in this episode

Jens Bringsjord

Co-Host

Megan Luedke

Co-Host

Episode Transcript

Megan Luedke

Have you ever wondered what kinds of technologies are used at an observatory? After all, an observatory. Telescope is just a large magnifying glass that helps us peek into the night sky. Or is it? In the 21st century? The observatory, as we have built around the globe and the telescopes we sent into space like Hubble and James Webb are highly capable, taking numerous photos autonomously and using new and cutting-edge technologies to capture some of the most striking images of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and deep into the cosmos to help us further understand this vast universe we are a part of.



Eloise Moore

I'm looking at something that happened billions of years ago that travelled so far, and I'm currently looking at a slide that that's just always the best bit. I don't know. It's just cool.



Jens Bringsjord

That's Lois Moore, a master's of astrophysics student at the University of Western Australia and a telescope technician at the Z Co Observatory. While Eloise's background is not in design or a true, purely creative industry. The way in which she applies creativity and elements of photography to her work are quite inspiring.



Megan Luedke

After our discussion with Bree falls on Astrophotography, we wanted to dive deeper into understanding just how scientists and astronomers use telescope technologies to further expand our knowledge of the universe. As designers, we all have a unique ability to understand and translate information, oftentimes complex information, and simplify it down for an end user or audience, all while making it visually beautiful.



Megan Luedke

While you're listening to Alloy’s story, we want to challenge you, our listeners, to think about how your skills could help communicate her work and her story to a wider audience. We've been the first step in bringing her story to you. What will you do with it next?



Eloise Moore

I guess I've always been super interested in space, ever since I can remember. I used to look up at the night sky and try and understand what was going on and it sort of led me into reading books, creating more than a degree. Now, a master's hand? Yeah, pretty much. Is my life essentially.



Jens Bringsjord

Currently, Alloy’s is studying high energy astrophysics, and while we could try to explain the concepts to you in this narration, we think it's better left for Alloy’s to explain.



Eloise Moore

My master’s is focusing on high energy astrophysics, which is the study of sort of the most extreme phenomena in the universe which produce or use very high, vast amounts of energies. So, this could be things like supernova, black holes, neutron stars, big explosions. For me, what I really like are my research supervised. Told me not to talk too much about this but is my favourite thing.



Eloise Moore

It's the highest energy particles in the universe and they're called ultrahigh energy, cosmic rays. And essentially, think about something as tiny as a proton. Absolutely tiny. And it has the same energy as a bullet fired from a gun. So, when you think about a size to energy ratio, that is tremendous. And what I'm really interested in is understanding how they get such incredible energies and where the Large Hadron Collider is a big particle accelerator in Switzerland with sun, and they can accelerate particles too.



Eloise Moore

I think I did the math and it's a billion times less than an ultrahigh energy cosmic ray, so that's insane. So basically, the universe is one great big particle accelerator, and it could provide so much more information, which is why it's so vital to understand, because it just tests these extremes of physics, and it can give us like this probe into how everything works.



Megan Luedke

Essentially on the side of her studies. She's been an active contributor to the Z Go Observatory, which is located not too far away from the University of Western Australia. The stars simply align for her and how she ended up starting as a technician at the observatory.



Eloise Moore

It started off as an internship in my second year of university and it’s kind of never ended. I'm now a member of the team and a technician, so I started doing something completely unrelated and then my supervisor took me up to the observatory one time and realized I was really interested in how everything worked. And I kept going back up and yeah, I don't really know where it's at, but it just sorts of never end.



Eloise Moore

But yeah, it's great. Now I get paid to fiddle with space. Things are, you know, partly compliant.



Jens Bringsjord

While there are many observatories for students to use to learn and gain experience in operating telescopes to look up at the night sky. The Van Gogh Observatory is purely meant for research purposes only.



Eloise Moore

This with the university. It's a research facility. So, there's other telescopes for the university, for students to do assignments on, but this one's for purely research purposes. So, the main scientific goals of the observatory I work out is to look at transient objects in the universe. So, this is basically objecting that sort of come and go in the sky like them, like a supernova or something like that.



Eloise Moore

In terms of observations and stuff, we work with a lot of different facilities in the world, so we have done some observations for the European Space Agency to do with things like space situation awareness. So, looking at things like great big asteroids in space that could potentially, you know, come to the fore, even a satellite launch, if they want us to track it, make sure it's going okay, that sort of thing.



Eloise Moore

But we also receive it's kind of like a like a pager notification from NASA from this mission called the Swift Satellite. And it's a satellite observatory that looks at these very energetic explosions called gamma ray bursts. And so, what happens is where they sort of robotic telescope will receive this pager message from Mars and it'll automatically then move to the object if it's in the sky where we can see it and start taking observations.



Eloise Moore

And, like anyone else who requests access, can make a request before the night and it gets put into the sort of list of objects that we look at as well. Service, lots of different things.



Jens Bringsjord

The telescope at the Zanzibar Observatory is a one meter in diameter telescope. As a telescope technician, there are a lot of various tasks that Luis needs to pay attention to.



Eloise Moore

So, a big thing is general optical maintenance. So, say every time a screw comes a little bit loose, the American move a little bit. You'll have to readjust that, try, and get the mirror in place and make sure everything's aligned. So that way everything's in focus again and optics. This finicky star, it's a big job. The observatory I work out is in the middle of the Australian bush, so it's a harsh environment.



Eloise Moore

It's hot there. Sometimes bushfires, there's sometimes power outages. It can also be humid. And so, electronics will start to deteriorate over time. So, you must replace some electronics and debug what's going on. And on top of that, you also must maintain the computers that run these telescopes. So that's also a lot of work. So, it's a lot of different things.



Eloise Moore

It really depends on what breaks.



Megan Luedke

As an observatory technician. The job also provides Louise with a few surprises from time to time.



Eloise Moore

One of the funniest repairs that I had was one of the cameras on site. It's like a special CCD camera used for astronomical imaging, and we noticed it was being a bit funny and we went out, had a look, took it apart, and there was a great big bug that had died in it. So and so we had to take this thing apart and we just find this fried bug in there.



Eloise Moore

So sometimes you just get the weirdest things like, you know, this isn't something you can plan for.



Megan Luedke

Photography is generally considered an art form. There are a lot of elements to good photography that go unnoticed when observing a photographer. Think about it the angle, the light source, the colour, the focus, and so much more for Eloise. She also has quite a process for taking photos of the night sky.



Eloise Moore

There's a couple of things going on with that. We primarily have a web interface, so anyone who wants to make a request can go into that web interface. So, the objects say what sort of filters they want to look at it through. It'll go through our robotic system, and it'll look at the coordinates, work out when it appears in the sky, compare it with all the other requests that's been made, and then make like a sort of list based of what like you know, sort of like what can be seen one after the other.



Eloise Moore

And then on top of that, getting these things from NASA, these sort of almost pager things also gets fed into the system. And these are seen as a very high priority object because, you know, it's cool and randomly happens. Yeah. So, so then that'll get passed into that pipeline as well. And then we may have to move another low upper earth object to another nice later or something like that to get this insane transient that's just been detected.



Megan Luedke

So, scientists and researchers all over the world in the field of astronomy have access to making requests to the Zadko Observatory. The researchers request the specific coordinates that Coe even gets requests from NASA from time to time.



Eloise Moore

It's all done by the computer or by a code automatically. We don't need to do anything. You can operate it completely remotely if you don't want to be there on site. We must turn off the whole automatic operations thing and then you can manually put in coordinates and stuff like that. But it means having took off on site and that's a lot easier to do it remotely.



Eloise Moore

So that's what we prefer to do. So essentially when we look at an object in space, we read light that's so. So, we use these special cameras called CCD cameras. And what happens is that the light sort of gets comes into the camera. And then we read out the intensity of the light. And the image that we end up with is a black and white image, which looks boring.



Eloise Moore

It's not the pretty ones that you see in Google Images. And as the telescope is taking these images, it sorts of tracks it very slowly at the same rate as the motion of the earth. So that way it doesn't appear like a blurred line on the image. I mean, you can do that as well. Very specific, like wacky things, but typically, dawn.



Eloise Moore

So, it's a black and white image. We have lots of dots. The filters are useful because essentially it filters that sudden wavelength of light. So, then you can see the intensity of, say, light more in the brighter region, the blue region is infrared. That sort of thing. And then you can stack them together and create those beautiful, coloured images that you see.



Eloise Moore

But you can also do a lot of science with it. So different processes in physics will emit different wavelengths of light. And so, you look at things through different wavelengths and you can kind of see sort of different structure depending on what's going on, because obviously different wavelengths have different frequencies which travel differently through space. So, you can see a lot of different things by using different filters.



Eloise Moore

A good example is when you're looking at a galaxy, if you look at it in optical, you just sort of see a pretty galaxy. But if you look at it in say, x ray, you don't see the galaxy itself. We see this bright thing in the centre and that corresponds to X-ray emission of the black hole in the middle.



Eloise Moore

And using filters or looking at different wavelengths of light lets you see lots of different things going on. So that's super important when you're doing research with an optical telescope, it's a really cool just.



Jens Bringsjord

Looking up at the night sky and gives alloys a feeling that nothing else can. There is so much to learn out there. What really is out there?



Eloise Moore

I don't know. For me it sorts of providers like the sense of like intrigue because it just shows just how much more there is out there than what you know on Earth. And that just makes it super because you like what's out there. You know, for me, this tiny grain of sand, there's so much more out there yet to be discovered.



Eloise Moore

It's you know, it's like the early explorers exploring the earth, you know, like, oh, we have this great country here, but what if there's more out there, you know, waiting for this continent? Yeah, it's basically that sort of thing for Louise.



Megan Luedke

Seeing the light hitting her eyes when gazing up at the night sky from the Shadow Observatory can be quite a surreal experience.



Eloise Moore

Here's why. You know, it only it only takes light, you know, 12.4, six, 9 billion years traveling at a380 meters per second. You know, when you're looking at stuff like that, you're thinking, I'm looking at something that happened billions of years ago that travelled so far and I'm currently looking at it's like that. That's just always the best bit.



Eloise Moore

I don't know. It's just cool.



Megan Luedke

As we prefaced at the beginning of this episode, even though Eloise is not technically seen as a creative individual by the public, we beg to differ. By exploring the galaxies, and the vastness of space always requires ample creative thought to solve and identify the mysteries that lie beyond our atmosphere.



Jens Bringsjord

Creativity emerges in all disciplines, no matter the title, and what better place to find it emerge within Eloise's work as she looks out into the vastness of space to ask the questions that lead her to the answers, we as human species seek.



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©2021-2024 Design Atlas Podcast. All Rights Reserved.

Created with love in Barcelona, Spain and Los Angeles, CA.

©2021-2024 Design Atlas Podcast. All Rights Reserved.

Created with love in Barcelona, Spain and Los Angeles, CA.

©2021-2024 Design Atlas Podcast. All Rights Reserved.

Created with love in Barcelona, Spain and Los Angeles, CA.