Introducing Elaina Hyde

I am currently a part time lecturer at the University of Western Sydney in Australia as well as the Information Support Officer for the International Telescope Office at the Australian Astronomical Observatory. I also do public astronomy tours as a guide at Sydney Observatory. All this is motivated by my passion for astronomy, physics and exploration. This passion has led me through a bachelor’s in Astronomy and Physics (with minors in Optical Engineering and Planetary Sciences) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, a research program at the Max-Plank Institute, a masters program in Astrophysics from the University of Amsterdam and my PhD studies at Macquarie University. These studies allowed me to participate in research on both optical spectra, abundances, and kinematics as well as lithographic construction of photonic crystals for use in submillimeter and radio astronomy; planetary sciences and engineering pnCCDs for X-ray astronomy.

I am very interested in observational astronomy as well as the theory behind it, and, yes, even the data management. I participated in the project ASTRO in Tucson, Arizona where we used both theory and observations to involve school teachers and their classes in astronomical research. I also enjoy giving public talks and participating in public observing or ‘star parties’ where the knowledge that I have gained can be shared with the larger community. I find the study of stars and binary stars in late stages of stellar evolution very exciting. I also enjoy planetary sciences, Archaeo-astronomy, and space sciences (in particular Mars satelite imagery via THEMIS) and exoplanet studies, although so far these have been mostly investigated in my free time. For my current science research I am primarily interested in the study of spectral features and the use of ground-based as well as space-based observatories to pursue the realm of Galactic Archaeology and Stellar Streamers in our own local group in particular the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy and its associated stream. Most recently I submitted conference proceedings for the recent ADASS meeting in Sydney on data selection techniques and a paper on the interesting black hole binary LMC X-1 from the perspective of the O star.


Introducing Gautham Narayan

This week’s Astrotweeps host is Gautham Narayan (@gsnarayan Gautham is an astrophysicist who likes stuff that blows up – explosive transients – particularly supernovae! He moved to the US in 2001 and got his BS in Physics at Illinois Wesleyan, where he worked with Prof. Linda French (@ispahan1) working on Jovian Trojans and Damocloids. From there he moved to grad school at Harvard University where he worked with Prof. Christopher Stubbs and Prof. Robert Kirshner. He got his PhD in Physics using type Ia supernovae from the ESSENCE and Pan-STARRS surveys to study the accelerating rate of expansion of the Universe, and the equation of state of the dark energy, w.

He began his post-doctoral career at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory ( in Tucson, AZ, where he used the Hubble Space Telescope to establish a set of faint DA White Dwarfs as spectrophotometric standards for LSST and future surveys to address the largest source of systematic bias with SNIa cosmology surveys. These days, he works with the Computer Science department at University of Arizona on the ANTARES (Arizona-NOAO Transient Alert and Response to Events System) project, using machine learning techniques to characterize transients using their light curves, and identify the rarest, most interesting objects. He also works on education and outreach with the NOAO EPO office, and organizes Astronomy on Tap in Tucson (@space_drafts).

When he’s not sciencing, he’s hanging out with friends and his dog, Kepler, wandering town & listening to local musical acts, working on his photography (, hiking, and he’s known to get passionate about politics and equity in astronomy and society.

Introducing Jane Rigby

This week’s Astrotweeps host is Jane Rigby. Jane is an astrophysicist whose research focuses on the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time, the growth of supermassive black holes, and spectroscopic diagnostics. Jane is a civil servant at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, DC. She serves as a Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope.

She was an organizer of Inclusive Astronomy 2015, and serves on the American Astronomical Society’s Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA).

Jane has given numerous public lectures, at venues including TEDxMidAtlantic and the Library of Congress. She has blogged for AstroBetter and Las Campanas Belles.

She lives in Maryland with her wife and their preschooler. Her website is and she normally tweets at @janerrigby.

Reintroducing J. Brian Balta

This week’s Astrotweeps host is J. Brian Balta. I like to think of myself as a geologist working in planetary science, and I like stuff that melts. I am a petrologist by training, which means I use measurements of the chemistry of rocks to understand how they were made, both on this planet and others. My last 6 years have been spent mostly working on meteorites from Mars and the asteroid 4 Vesta and I occasionally brag about having pieces of Mars in my office

I have a BS in geology from Indiana University and a PhD in geology from Caltech. I also am a regular contributor to science outreach through the Facebook groups The Earth Story and The Universe. I run the blog version of TES at and although I have a personal account I do most of my twitter work running the account @theearthstory and hope some of you will follow me over at those pages. This week I’m hoping to tell a very interesting story – how we make a planet, answer a few questions, and probably beg for people to hire me, still.

Introducing Jonathan Nichols

Jonathan Nichols is a Lecturer and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Advanced Fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester.  His background is the magnetic fields and auroras of the outer planets, and more recently exoplanets and ultra-cool dwarfs.   He obtained his PhD from the University of Leicester in 2004 and, following a spell at Boston University, returned to the Leicester, where he is now in the 4th year of an Advanced Fellowship and a lecturer. 

Jonathan uses a combination of computational modelling, spacecraft data analysis (where available!) and remote sensing to study the magnetospheres and auroras (“northern/southern lights”) of Jupiter, Saturn and similar bodies beyond the solar system.  Specifically, he uses the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the UV auroras on the outer planets, and compares these with theoretical models in order to discover how their magnetospheres behave.  Similar ideas regarding the dynamics of these magnetosphere can be applied to exoplanets and brown dwarfs, leading to novel methods of characterising or possibly even detecting these objects.  

Jonathan normally tweets at @jonny_nichols

Calling All Astrotweeps – Sign up for the first part of 2016

Demitri, Niall, and I would like to thank all the astrotweeps volunteers (past, current, and future of 2015) for making the second year of this little experiment go amazingly well. We’ve enjoyed the perspectives and backgrounds that we’ve heard through this account. Also a thank you to the followers who tune in each week.

We’d like to keep this going through 2016. If you’re interested in taking over the account for a week then now’s your chance. Today we’re formally announcing the signup for the first  three months of the new year. All types of astronomers and planetary scientists from grad student to postdoc to senior scientist and all other variations are welcome. Also whether you’re a newbie to twitter, never done astrotweeps before or are a veteran from previous years, we’d love to have you participate. You can see the current schedule with open spots here and  sign up to volunteer on our registration page.