My Supernova Love

In the cold control room, blackout blinds are down.

Starting the observation, checking co-ordinates now.

Our first light curve, from the NT Telescope loads.

Screen showing Type 1a, a white dwarf’s dying throws.

My very first Supernova, light captured, successfully shown.

I am here to help, to research.

But also, to run away…

far from; the memories

of us together, him and me.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

Last Christmas he left, walked out, cheated.

So here I am this Christmas, can’t allow the cold.

How to get past the rejection; left me, for her.

Far away South America, I escape to find the warm.

Sunny days, nights observing Supernova, stars that can’t go on.

Stars from which, everything is born.

Everywhere, you are, this mountain,

here in Chile; new love.

Still, my heart mourns.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

My Supernova who are you, new life from just a star?

Zooming in a whole Universe, millions billions to see.

Unlocking the meaning of each emission, what can it be?

Trying to work out which source is yours, first we can’t be sure.

Run the code, check mass limit, observing your ionising core.

Neutrinos settling, mass condensing.

Every single being, born in you,

every atom; in my blood.

You are already, in my bones.

He left, so could you be

my Supernova Love?

Cold and grey England, empty house awaits me there.

On screen we’ve found you, a star once glowing bright.

Your curve is turning downwards, more throughout the night.

Sat here searching waiting, measuring spectra faded light.

Lines converging, super heating core, but why am I so cold?

Life emerging, Supernova you made it all.

Elements, you created, oxygen carbon gold,

you are; in everything.

Still, you are not home.  

He left, yet still it’s him. He is

my Supernova Love.

You were supposed to #followme – my supernova love

This is the final poem I wrote for the poetic science event. This poem was in response to the concept of using the language of my science to write a love poem. I went kinda deep into my heart for this one, and to be honest reading it back makes me quite sad, especially since this is about a relationship which ended four years ago.

I guess it just takes as long as it takes.

We need help

We have thousands of hours of aurorae video,

most of which has never been looked at.

We need help from Citizen Scientists. 

         Dazzling, coloured light

aligned with the magnetic zenith.

          Roman goddess of the dawn.

                      Shapes and forms,

                           with arcs and rays.

                          Shimmering curtains, bands, waves.

                   Changing shape.

               Light moves across the sky,

brighten and fade.

             Charged particles in the solar wind,

toward north and south,

                           polar regions.


Gases in the atmosphere,

            oxygen and nitrogen.

Collisions give off light.

We have thousands of hours of aurorae video,

most of which has never been looked at.

We need help from Citizen Scientists. 

Me observing the Aurora in real life in Svalbard, Norway

This is another poem I wrote for the ‘Poetic Science’ event. This is an example of a found poem. The majority of text used here was from a website designed to explain the aurora to young children (see here) and the other text was found in the IMPACT case study document which I helped to write describing the impact of our Aurora Zoo citizen science platform. I also tried to make the shape of the words on the page reflect the dancing, waveforms of the aurora and how it looks overhead when you observe it 🙂

Why do I want to be a Science Performer all of a sudden?

Ever since I had my first taste of being a ‘science performer’ at Bright Club last month I have caught the bug for performance art. I have really started to believe that I can actually be entertaining; I can be more than just someone who gives talks about their astrophysics research. This is a new and exciting concept to me. Even though I have been in the science communication game since 2006, I have never really thought of myself as an entertainer. But now I believe. I can’t wait to show off my Welsh accent to the world.

I have secretly dreamed of being a Blue Peter presenter since I was a kid, Helen Skelton is my idol, mainly ‘cos she is kickass and does crazy challenges, but, yes, up until now this presenter dream has been kept secret. But, now I feel an awakening, and as a result I have already signed up to try my stand up set again at the Science Standoff in July.

My potential talent for entertainment has not gone unnoticed, and since my ‘success?’ at Bright Club and my ‘energetic and enthusiastic attitude’ I was asked to be the announcer at the last game that my roller derby team played in June. Also, on the day following that game I actually ended up being interviewed on TV! I had just roller skated 30 miles around Goodwood Motor Circuit to fundraise for my team and I was very sweaty and tired, but still, I managed to say something coherent that got me on BBC South Today.

Skills I bring:

Event management:

Over 56,000 people have been reached by astronomy outreach and public engagement events that I have managed. Most of these events have involved the incredibly popular Soton Astrodome Mobile Planetarium. In 2013 I was successfully awarded funds from the Education Enhancement Fund to purchase a second larger dome and at every subsequent Stargazing Live! event we have ran both astrodomes to meet the high demand for our shows.

I have worked with several external partners over the years to offer free astronomy planetarium events to public audiences. The sheer popularity of these events and the fact that they are staffed by such an experienced and enthusiastic team means we are frequently asked to return. I have managed events on several occasions at Southampton City Art Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, Sea City Museum, Winchester University, Bournemouth University, Portsmouth University, The National Big Bang Fair, Big Bang South, CARFest, BBC’s Regional Stargazing Live! Event and Paulton’s Park & Peppa Pig World and I still have contacts at all of these places for the future.


Public speaking:

I have fully managed seven SEPnet public engagement astronomy stands at Cheltenham Science Festival, Bestival and Glastonbury Music Festivals where myself, and my team have collectively engaged over 19,000 people with astronomy research. All these events have been in full collaboration with the UoS ‘Bring Research to Life’ Roadshow, which is run by the Public Engagement with Research Unit (PERu). PERu drafted me in to manage a zone at our annual Science and Engineering Day in March. I still work closely with them and will work with them again at the Human Worlds Festival this November. In Spring 2016, I ran a hugely successful ‘AstroAirport’ public engagement event at Southampton Airport. I was awarded £7.3k from the STFC to engage a new audience with Supernova research. My team and I spoke about the research with over 4,500 airport passengers across four days.

I have a catalogue of three talks that I offer to schools, colleges, and the public. The first two talks are based on my PhD research, called ‘A mysterious Supermassive Black Hole’ and ‘Radio Astronomy’ and the third is called ‘Aliens in the Universe’. I have presented these talks more than 70 times to a wide variety of audiences, these include local astronomy societies, A-level colleges, the Women’s Institute, and Winchester Science and Discovery Centre. In July I will be presenting my black hole talk at Winchester Science Festival.


Each year I run an Astrodome Training Day, which is attended by more than 15 PhD and Undergraduate students. I pride myself on my ability to create a good team atmosphere, and hold regular team meetings, and award events for #OurGreatestTeam (yes, we stole the hashtag from the 2012 Olympics). I am very passionate about promoting the fact that working in a strong outreach team not only improves presentation and social skills, but also improves the mental wellbeing of the students who do the outreach. My experiences tackling the mental health challenges I encountered during my PhD are the basis for my Bright Club set. I got through my #PhdWoes by doing outreach, and it is very close to my heart to encourage others to do the same; to use public speaking and humour to help them science!

As part of my desire to work with disadvantaged groups, last year, I volunteered to work with The Princes Trust & Techniquest Discovery Centre. Together we came up with a program of work to engage disadvantaged young people who are part of the ‘Fairbridge residential program’. I ran a training day for the Fairbridge centre staff and provided them with learning resources.

Skills I want to develop:

I would really like to develop my comedy writing and comedy timing. I want to become better at camera work too, I am ok when talking to an actual person but as soon as there is a camera something happens to me which is not good. I would also like to work on not playing with my hair and reducing the number of times I say ‘Um’. Also, several people have told me that I need to be ‘introduced to the full stop’. So I would like to know when to just pause and how to speak slower. I just want to be a really awesome entertainer, and I have suddenly got such a thirst for learning about performance art.  I know I have a lot to learn, but I also have a lot to offer. AND, I feel very enthused about this journey…It feels just like the time I first saw Sister Act, and then I instantly wanted to become a Nun, you know ‘cos of Whoppi Goldberg, and all the singing!