Blog Posts‎ > ‎

Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell Talk Packs Them In

posted Jun 25, 2014, 3:06 PM by Stephen Chadwick   [ updated Jul 16, 2014, 12:18 AM ]

Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell Packs them in at Te Manawa!


On June 11th Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell gave a lecture at Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North. The event was hosted by the Horowhenua Astronomical Society and supported by Massey University.

 The writer had already heard the guest speaker at the recent annual confer-ence of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand (R.A.S.N.Z.) held at Whakatane. Dame Jocelyn was the dis-coverer of the first Pulsar back in the mid 1960’s.

Like any good speaker her talks are pitched to the expected audiences at-tending. At Whakatane Dame Jocelyn spoke about, “Transient Astronomy—Bursts, bangs and things that go bump in the night.”

In this talk she highlighted some cutting edge observations of exotic objects in deep space that challenge our under-standing of the universe. Dame Jocelyn hinted at the nature of these new type of objects and left us to ponder just what might be behind these mysterious bursts of energy on a scale never be-fore detected.  At Te Manawa Dame Jocelyn covered what for many of us is familiar ground but she did it with her own personal energy that brought new life to the story, a story about death and life and the creation of the elements that eventually make us all.

The professor certainly showed us how to get some very complex ideas across to a lay audience, albeit a fairly knowl-edgeable one at that.

With fifteen minutes to go there was about 40 to 50 people in attendance and we suspected that there would be a flux of late comers before the talk was due to start. We weren’t however prepared for over 250 people who crammed into the room in that last quarter of an hour! Standing room only was the call. A group of school kids sat on the floor at Dame Jocelyn’s feet and you could tell that she was quite delighted with the children’s interaction with her during and after the talk. In the end the Palmerston North event was her best attended lecture on her short 10 day tour of mostly the North Island.

She will leave with fond memories of her short time in Palmerston North where she has friends, and we have fond memories of some pleasant chats at dinner later that evening.


Ian Cooper