Nasa scientist makes star appearance at school

Learning more about astrophysics from Nasa Hubble Space Telescope senior project scientist Dr...
Learning more about astrophysics from Nasa Hubble Space Telescope senior project scientist Dr Jennifer Wiseman at Kavanagh College, Dunedin, yesterday, were pupils (back, from left): Daniel McClymont (year 13), Patrick Cotter, Jayden Deuster-Parker, and Tom Davis (all year 7); (middle): Arryn Blanch (year 13), Connor Greeves, Ruby De Graaf, and Abby Simpson (all year 7); and (front): Monty Vaughan, Elijah Booth, Hariette La Hood, and Scarlett Kettish (all year 7). PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
Science and religion intersected during a presentation at Kavanagh College in Dunedin yesterday.

Nasa Hubble Space Telescope senior project scientist Dr Jennifer Wiseman spoke about her life and work as an astrophysicist to about 60 college pupils and staff, followed by an extended question-and-answer session.

Dr Wiseman, in Dunedin following her keynote speech for the 2018 Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) conference on Tuesday, said she was impressed with the level of interest from Kavanagh pupils, including in matters metaphysical.

"Science can answer many questions, but not all questions. When we consider questions like, `Is there a God?' `What is the purpose to the universe?' or `How do God and science relate to each other?' the awe conveyed by the universe, as seen through images like those from Hubble, can be very inspiring.

"It's lovely to speak to children so enthusiastic and interested in all aspects of space exploration, and the ways we're studying space."

Dr Wiseman would now head to Wanaka for a presentation at Aspiring Conversations tomorrow, before returning to her work on the Hubble Telescope and its successor from 2020, the James Webb Space Telescope.

However, before that, she hoped to find time for a little southern stargazing.

"This is my first time in the southern hemisphere, so I'm looking forward to clear skies at Dunedin [Beverly-Begg] Observatory tonight,"she said.

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