Photography and Discovery of the Universe
Date: Wednesday, 6 February, 2013
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Kerr Grant Theatre
When the photographic plate replaced the eye as the astronomical detector of choice 120 years ago, it revolutionised astronomy, much as the invention of the telescope had heralded a new era, 280 years before. It was soon realised that photography could detect radiation from the stars that was invisible, revealing new and exciting phenomena. With this came an understanding of the nature of stars, nebulae and galaxies and for the first time their astonishing colours were revealed. In this profusely illustrated talk, David Malin from the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and RMIT University will briefly review the rich history of imaging in astronomy, from Galileo to modern times.
David Malin has been involved in scientific imaging all his working life. He joined the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO, now the Australian Astronomical Observatory) as its Photographic Scientist in August 1975, shortly after scheduled observations began on the then-new, 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) in June 1975. He is also now Adjunct Professor of Scientific Photography at RMIT University in Melbourne. He was born in England and trained as a chemist, working for many years with a large international chemical company in the north of England. There he used optical and electron microscope and X-ray diffraction techniques to explore the very small before turning his attention to much larger and more distant things in Australia.
David Malin worked for 26 years at the Anglo-Australian Observatory (now the Australian Astronomical Observatory) as photographic scientist and astronomer. There he developed hypersensitising processes which can give enormous gains in speed to the photographic materials that were used in astronomy. He also invented new ways of revealing information on astronomical plates, a speciality which has given him an international reputation. David Malin has published over 120 scientific papers and a similar number of popular articles on astronomy and photography, as well as nine books. He is also a well-known and entertaining lecturer on these and related topics. The Invisible Universe (Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown and Company, 1999) is a large format celebration of the beauty of the night sky, a subject increasing explored in his gallery exhibitions. He was also scientific advisor for Heaven and Earth (Phaidon, 2002) a profusely illustrated work that uses scientific pictures to explore all scales from the atomic to the cosmic. More recently, he was commissioning editor for the Scientific Imaging section of Elsevier's well respected Focal Encyclopedia of Photography. His latest book (July 2009) Ancient Light, is a portrait of the Universe in black and white.