Prof Steve A Eales
The aim of my research is to uncover the history of galaxies - how they were formed and how they have evolved during the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang. If you are interested in a more detailed account of the work, visit the research pages of the Galaxies Group. Much of our work is done at Mauna Kea Observatory, which is on the summit of 14000-foot extinct volcano in Hawaii. Recently I have become involved in space astronomy. Cardiff led the team that built the main camera for the Herschel Space Observatory, a billion-Euro space telescope which was launched in 2009. I am the co-leader (with Loretta Dunne, Nottingham) of the largest Herschel survey, the Herschel ATLAS, which will survey 570 square degrees, eight times larger than the area that will be covered by the next largest survey. I am also leading a smaller survey of 323 nearby galaxies, the Herschel Reference Survey. Apart from research, I like to try and tell the public what we do with all their money. As part of our schools programme, I give talks to schools and other local group, and I have talked twice at the Cardiff Science Cafe. I have also written articles for several magazines and a book for a popular audience ('Origins', published by Springer), which describes the spectacular advances we have made during the last decade towards finding answers to the 'origin questions' - how the planets, stars, and galaxies and the Universe itself were formed. By telling the human stories behind the discoveries, I have also tried in the book to give a feeling for what it is like being an astronomer during this exciting period in our subject's history. In a slightly hubristic departure for an extragalactic astronomer, I have also written a textbook on planets - 'Planets and Planetary Systems' - published by John Wiley.
I currently teach Synoptic Astrophysics, a second-year course in which there are no formal lectures. I just set the students a real problem at the beginning of the class and let them get on with it.
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I did a Physics degree in Cambridge and then did a Ph.D. in the Cambridge radio-astronomy group. I then moved to Hawaii for a three-year postdoctoral research position. Another another postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute, I became an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. I finally returned to the UK in 1994, when I took up my present position at Cardiff.