Energy from our nearest star: commissioning a solar mini-farm in rural southern India.

Energy is collected from our nearest star by day and stored as chemical energy, so that the astronomical observatory at a school can safely be used to observe interesting stars by night. Katherine Blundell will describe how the commissioning and operation of a solar-mini farm powers an astronomical observatory at a school in rural southern India. She will illustrate its challenges, successes, and its impact on the impressionable teenagers at this Government of India school.

Katherine Blundell is a Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Research Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford. Prior to this she was one of the Royal Society’s University Research Fellows. Her awards include a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Astrophysics, the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin Medal in 2010, the Institute of Physics Bragg Medal in 2012 and the Royal Astronomical Society’s Darwin Lectureship in 2015. In the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list she was appointed OBE. Her research interests include extreme energy phenomena in the Universe, including black holes, astrophysical jets, relativistic plasmas, and active galaxies. She has founded the Global Jet Watch project to make round-the-clock observations of how matter behaves in the vicinity of black holes, with observatories established in schools in South Africa, Chile, India and Australia. She has published a “Very Short Introduction to Black Holes”, a textbook with Stephen Blundell “Concepts in Thermal Physics”, and with Fraser Armstrong “Energy beyond Oil”.