For the past decade or so, the world’s radio astronomers have been baffled by cosmic signals that defy attempts to explain them. Dating from an unrelated trawl through archival data from the Parkes Radio Telescope, the story of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) has now shifted to some of the most advanced radio astronomy facilities in the world. They include the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory in remote Western Australia, home of the Square Kilometre Array. This is a fast-changing field of research, and in this fully-illustrated talk, Fred Watson presents the latest in our understanding of these freaks of the radio Universe.
Modern astronomy is usually considered to have started in the Enlightenment, largely as a result of the invention of the telescope. But when we look back into the Middle Ages, we find a richness of thought that is preserved today in the art and manuscripts of the time, which are often of exquisite quality. Those ideas, in turn, owed their origin to Islamic scholars in the tenth and eleventh centuries, who had built on the work of the ancient Greeks. In this richly illustrated talk, Fred Watson celebrates the flourishing of mediaeval astronomy, and traces its origins and legacies.