“What will the next decade in astronomy bring”


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Presented on ZOOM 9th August at 7pm

DVD Available HERE



The next ten years promises to be one of the most exciting decades in observational astrophysics with next generation of ground based and space observatories opening up. Unanswered questions include what is the nature of dark energy and dark matter? Can we detect life on exoplanets? What is the nature of the first galaxies? And many more.

This year the James Webb Space Telescope will be launched and next year this will be followed by  a number of new X-ray observatories. Together these will look a diverse set of problems from the earliest galaxies to how neutron stars work. In the longer term in 2025 the European Extremely Large Telescope will start operations as will the Square Kilometer Array radio telescope. What new insights are they expected to bring? This broad ranging talk will examine what are questions which these new observatories will address. In the past new instruments and better telescopes have revolutionised astronomy, we can expect similar advances over the coming decade.


Part of the talk will look at

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Professor Andy Shearer

Research Interests

Primarily I am an observational astronomer and instrument developer. My main observational interests is in the polarimetric observations of neutron stars and pulsars. I was the PI of the Galway Astronomical Stokes polarimeter which has been used on 4-8m class telescopes including the 200 inch Palomar telescope in California and the 8m Gemini South telescope in Chile. More recently I designed the Neopol2 optical polarimeter with Polish colleagues for observing near Earth asteroids for ESA.

My work  has resulted in over a hundred papers with over 1500 citations.

In 2011 I was invited to join the COST Action MP1104 – Polarization as a tool to study the Solar System and beyond. I co-wrote the proposed follow-on COST action. I have organized a number of workshops and conferences on high time resolution astrophysics and polarization.

I have been a referee for a number of journals and conferences including Astrophysical Journal, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Irish Machine Vision and Image Processing, ESEM, Optical Engineering, British Computer Journal, Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and Nature. I have also been a reviewer for various telescope allocation panels including ESO (panel member), UK’s PATT, Gemini and Mexico’s GrantaCan committees. I was a panel member of the Extremely Large Telescope Integrated Modeling Review for the University of Lund. I have been external examiner for MSc students from the Universities of Porto and Manchester. I was a panel member of the ERC consolidator grant assessment in 2019 and chair of  ERC Staring Grant PE9 panel in 2021.  I was a board member of FP7/H2020 Infrastructure project, Opticon and its H2020 follow on.

Asteroid 11450 was named Shearer in recognition of my work in High Time Resolution Astrophysics. The citation reads “Andrew Shearer (b. 1953), of the National University of Ireland, Galway, leads the group working in the field of high time-resolution astrophysics and image processing. He was responsible for the measurements of the pulsed optical emission from PSR 0656-14 and Geminga.”

I was the only European in HPCWire’s People to Watch in 2005 list. See http://www.taborcommunications.com/hpcwire/features/people05/ and a panelist on the IBM HPC Forum in September 2005. My work on pulsars was described in the RIA publication Flashes of Brilliance.



Essentially using astronomy as vehicle to bring greater awareness of the work the department do in the University. Part of his thinking was to make the university more accessible and a place for everyone.

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