Last night was the 50th anniversary meeting of the CAA in Cambridge and as well as the Mayor of Cambridge attending we also had Professor Robert Kennicutt as our guest speaker.
His talk was entitled “Hot Results on Cool Galaxies: The Hidden Universe Revealed.” Robert Kennicutt is the Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and the Director of the Institute of Astronomy.
The talk was very interesting and Professor Kennicutt started off by talking about William Herschel’s experiment which discovered that there was heat beyond the visual spectrum of colour and into the infrared.
We were told that most IR radiation is blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere, and that viewing objects in space in the Infrared from ground telescopes is also very difficult, as everything around the scope glows. This has meant that the best way to conduct IR experiments is from space.
Some of these IR telescopes include the IRAS in 1983, ISO from 1995 to 1998, Akari from 2006 to 2007 and the Spitzer telescope from 2003 to 2009.
Professor Kennicutt also took us through various findings of a Spitzer survey (SINGS) and then told us about the new Herschel telescope with it’s 3.5m silicon mirror as well as the Planck microwave satellite which are going up into space together at the same time via an Ariane 5 rocket.