Science Communicator: Writing
European Space Agency
November 2008 - Present
Working for the Hubble press office in Munich, Lee was surprised to find himself outnumbered by Portuguese folk by a ratio of about ten to one. In between writing press releases, scripts and anything else that needed a native Englisher's eye, he was taught how to say Portuguese phrases such as "yes boss" and "I am a lazy slave journalist". Obrigado indeed!
Hubble Space Telescope writing
03/09/2012 Ancient Orbs
27/02/2012 Antlia Dwarf Galaxy Peppers the Sky with Stars
30/01/2012 Young Stars at Home in an Ancient Cluster
05/12/2011 The Frosty Leo Nebula
17/10/2011 Hubble Revisits an Old Friend
23/08/2011 Feeling the Strain
25/07/2011 Sunset Glow in Orion
18/07/2011 Edge-on Galaxy Hosts Supernova Explosion
11/07/2011 Rare Cosmic Footprint
04/07/2011 Return to the Carina Nebula
27/06/2011 Engulfed by Stars Near the Milky Way’s Heart
16/06/2011 Spectacular Hubble View of Centaurus A
06/06/2011 Hubble Watches a Celestial Prologue
23/05/2011 Commotion in a Crowded Cluster
09/05/2011 Galactic Fountain of Youth
02/05/2011 Breathing New Life into an Old Cluster
25/04/2011 Dwarf Galaxy: Small but Perfectly Formed
18/04/2011 Hubble Peers Through the Looking Glass
11/04/2011 Arcade Adventure for Young Stars
04/04/2011 The Beauty of Asymmetry
28/03/2011 Cluster’s Deceptive Serenity Hides Violent Past
14/03/2011 Family of Stars Breaking Up
28/02/2011 Orion’s Lesser-known Nebula Takes Centre Stage
21/02/2011 Perfect Spiral Overlaid with Milky Way Gems
14/02/2011 Old Stars with a Youthful Glow
07/02/2011 Fiery Young Stars Wreak Havoc in Stellar Nursery
31/01/2011 The Star City that Never Sleeps
24/01/2011 The Secret of Stellar Youth
17/01/2011 Islands of Stars in the River
10/01/2011 Dying Star Cocooned within its own Gases
03/01/2011 Stellar Powerhouses in the Eagle Nebula
27/12/2010 Doing Cartwheels to Celebrate the End of an Era
20/12/2010 Barred Spiral Bares All
13/12/2010 A Dazzling Planetary Nebula
06/12/2010 Hubble Peers Deeply into the Eagle Nebula
15/11/2010 Hubble Witnesses the Crafting of a Celestial Masterpiece
08/11/2010 An Extraordinarily Slender Galaxy
25/10/2010 A Great Ball of Stars
04/10/2010 Star Formation Fireworks in Orion
13/09/2010 Bright star — faint galaxy
06/09/2010 An Extraordinary Celestial Spiral
25/11/2008 Hubble captures outstanding views of mammoth stars
13/11/2008 Hubble directly observes planet orbiting Fomalhaut
30/10/2008 The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is back in business
30/09/2008 When it comes to galaxies, diversity is everywhere
27/08/2008 Clash of clusters provides new dark matter clue
20/08/2008 Hubble sees magnetic monster in erupting galaxy
The best Hubblecast ever, because it features great lines such as "everyone's favourite orbiting observatory" and "lo and behold, Hubble has done it again." It takes a special person to write such beautiful scripts, you know. Have a look here.
European Southern Observatory
November 2008 - Present
Lee's joining ESO coincided with a dramatic dip in the quality of their written content. Coincidence?
Being first editor is alright, isn't it? Buy the book on the cheap or download it for free. All the best books can be bought on the cheap or downloaded for free.
Press releases and the like
Lee provided a shaky foundation for the following:
23/07/2012 The Paranal basecamp from above
11/06/2012 Cascading Milky Way
27/02/2012 Spinning into Action
19/12/2011 Llullaillaco, Clear as Day
31/10/2011 Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
25/07/2011 Very Large Telescope Ready for Action
20/07/2011 A Cosmic Superbubble
18/07/2011 Hidden Treasure on Our Doorstep
04/07/2011 A VLT Auxiliary Telescope and Cerro Armazones
06/06/2011 A Slice of the Sky
21/04/2011 First European ALMA Antenna Handed Over to Joint ALMA Observatory
18/04/2011 On Top of the World
13/04/2011 Celestial Fireworks from Dying Stars
11/04/2011 ESO Headquarters at Sunset
08/04/2011 Science in School Issue 18 Now Available
04/04/2011 Bridging the Abyss
02/03/2011 The Dusty Disc of NGC 247
07/02/2011 HAWK-I Instrument Spies a Super Galaxy
02/02/2011 A Picture-perfect Pure-disc Galaxy
31/01/2011 From One "Alien World" to Another
24/01/2011 A New Era for Astronomy
27/12/2010 The Long and Winding Road
20/12/2010 Monuments of Science
15/12/2010 ESO Releases The Messenger No. 142
13/12/2010 Collecting Precious Starlight
06/12/2010 Up Close and Personal with the Very Large Telescope
03/12/2010 ESO 2011 Calendar is Out Now
15/11/2010 An Ancient Cluster of Stars Against a Stunning Background
10/11/2010 Atoms-for-Peace: A Galactic Collision in Action
01/11/2010 ESO’s Very Large Telescope Peers into a Distant Nebula
28/10/2010 Electric Supercar on Pan-American Marathon Races to ESO’s VLT
22/10/2010 Invitation to the Press: Electric Supercar
05/10/2010 ESO Photo Ambassadors Share Spectacular Images of the Night Sky
20/09/2010 Starlight Shines Brightly Above Paranal
01/09/2010 The Superwind Galaxy NGC 4666
12/08/2010 ESO Website now Includes Icelandic, Polish and Turkish Translations
11/08/2010 Ambitious Survey Spots Stellar Nurseries
04/08/2010 Seeing a Stellar Explosion in 3D
One day Lee was ushered into a tiny sealed room and encouraged to read lines from a script which he had jimmeyed, all about a bit of the latest James Bond film being shot at a hotel used by some astronomers, or something. The slightly muffled results of this recording venture then formed the ESOcast narration. This has been a strange, but true story.
June 2009 - Present
Lee's a consultant for the Science Office. Apparently he's adept at "Fotografia, Eventos, Escrita Cientifica". He honestly has no idea what the last bit means. Excreting scientific?
To answer the most obvious question: it stands for Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting. To answer the second most obvious question: Lee wrote press releases and things. The best two were about changing fundamental constants and green pea galaxies.
Writing scripts for Portuguese TV? That's kinda cool in a geeky way, sim? Lee wrote 9 of the 13 episodes. Probably the worst 9.
May 2009 - Present
As At-Bristol's Planetarium guy, Lee's duties include designing spacey sci-comm activities and forgetting his colleagues' names. He excels at one of these two tasks. Here's the gist of the things he's supposed to do.
Writing Planetarium shows
This is probably his key role. Lee basically just updates the previous shows, but writers always take more credit than they deserve and he's certainly no different. On a plus note, around 100,000 people see his work every year, so that's got to be worth something. Ideally a payrise.
Particularly in astronomy-related communication matters. He can't be trusted with anything else, to be fair.
Cub and Brownie special events
These days are officially amazing. Hundreds of eager young minds come to At-Bristol where our favourite astro-boy harks on about how great science is, presents whizz-bang shows, and runs fabulous workshops.
At-Bristol has a regular programme featuring real live scientists who come and say hello to visitors. These events don't run themselves.
Presenting school shows
Launch It! Splash and Bubble! Ready Sweaty Go! The Light and Colour Show! They're all super. Especially if they feature hydrogen balloons.
Night Sky Guides
Download 'em by going here and scrolling to the very bottom of the page. Why is Lee's best work always at the very bottom of the page?
International Year of Astronomy 2009
December 2008 – July 2010
IYA2009 was, literally, the largest science outreach event *ever*. It is quite baffling why Lee was trusted to be the Staff Writer. Because he's cheap, maybe?
During the International Year of Astronomy 2009, Lee was required to type as fast as his wee little fingers could manage, reporting in "real time" (or close enough). The resulting success surprised him more than anyone, and led to several LiveBlog expeditions.
First came the Opening Ceremony LiveBlog, where it was established that people much prefer pictures to words.
Next was the 100 Hours of Astronomy LiveBlog, where it was discovered that sleep deprivation actually improves the quality of blog posts.
Then the world endured the Galilean Nights LiveBlog, where it was revealed that blanket cloud cover does nothing to dampen astronomers’ spirits.
And finally we had the Closing Ceremony LiveBlog, where it was realised that IYA2009 would actually *never* end.
This project was hell to do, but the end result looks good. Lee and a Portuguese buddy were responsible for putting together subtitles for approximately ONE MILLION languages. They largely succeeded, but please don't use Bulgarian, Greek or Latvian subtitles. Really, don't.
These feature articles from the Cosmic Diary IYA2009. Cornerstone projects didn't edit themselves.
15/12/2009 Franck Marchis: Our Solar System through the eyes of Adaptive Optics
01/12/2009 Nando Patat: Seeking the origins of thermonuclear supernovae
15/11/2009 Seiichi Sakamoto: How sites for observatories are selected
01/11/2009 Ana Ines Gomez De Castro: The birth of planetary systems
15/10/2009 Claire Lee: From Quarks to the Cosmos
01/10/2009 Gerard van Belle: Seeing Stars
15/09/2009 Alberto Krone Martins: Astrometry
01/09/2009 Thomas Dall: From fusion energy to life
15/08/2009 Avivah Yamani: Exoplanets, the quest to find other worlds
01/08/2009 Salim Ansari: Why do we study astronomy from space?
15/07/2009 Gayandhi de Silva: How did our Galaxy form?
01/07/2009 Nadine Neumayer: Black Holes
15/06/2009 Joana Ascenso: Stellar Nurseries
01/06/2009 Heidi Korhonen: Sunspots and starspots
15/05/2009 Tijana Prodanovic: The Great Universal Cookout
01/05/2009 Aude Alapini: Other Planets in Our Galaxy
15/04/2009 David Barrado y Navascués: Why Star Formation?
01/04/2009 Emanuel Mumpuni: Sol Lucet Omnibus, The Sun Shines to All
15/03/2009 John Hearnshaw: Life at an Observatory
01/03/2009 Saskia Hekker: The Ins and Outs of a Star
15/02/2009 Yavuz Eksi: Our Evolving Universe
01/02/2009 Assaf Horesh: Gravitational Lensing, Magnifying the Cosmos
15/01/2009 Athena Coustenis: Looking at Titan, an Earth-like World
01/01/2009 Brother Guy Consolmagno: Magnificent Meteorites
These press releases are collaborative efforts but they either start or end with Lee's writing. And he's usually in the middle somewhere, too.
08/01/2010 The International Year of Astronomy 2009
17/12/2009 The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Closing Ceremony
17/09/2009 Galilean Nights: Global Astronomy Event
01/07/2009 International Year of Astronomy 2009 raises millions of eyes to the skies
09/06/2009 The Galileo Teacher Training program
30/03/2009 100 Hours of Astronomy: worldwide astronomy marathon
23/04/2009 The Portal to the Universe opens its doors
21/04/2009 The She Is An Astronomer project seeks to break down misconceptions
04/03/2009 Galileoscope in production: The IYA2009 telescope is now available!
09/01/2009 The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Opening Ceremony
29/12/2008 The Universe is yours to discover during IYA2009
21/11/2008 The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Opening Ceremony
Lee doesn't even remember writing this article. Maybe it was a traumatic experience? Pages 43-45 contain the goods.
A feature on the web and in print? The fun factor has just been DOUBLED. Click to page eight, before it runs away.
Lee's script writing will bring a tear to your eye, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.
9 Jan, 19 Jan, 23 Jan, 30 Jan, 6 Feb, 13 Feb, 20 Feb, 27 Feb, 6 Mar, 13 Mar, 20 Mar, 27 Mar, 3 Apr, 10 Apr, 17 Apr, 24 Apr, 1 May, 8 May, 15 May, 22 May, 29 May, 5 Jun, 12 Jun,19 Jun, 26 Jun, 3 Jul, 10 Jul, 17 Jul (the legendary "frat-boy speak" one), 24 Jul, 31 Jul, 7 Aug, 14 Aug, 21 Aug, 28 Aug, 4 Sep, 12 Sep, 18 Sep, 25 Sep, 2 Oct, 10 Oct, 17 Oct, 23 Oct, 31 Oct, 7 Nov, 13 Nov, 20 Nov, 27 Nov, 4 Dec, 13 Dec, 19 Dec, 28 Dec, 22 Jan.
Bits 'n' Bobs
Official IYA2009 Twitter feed
ESO at the IYA2009 Opening Ceremony article for The Messenger
Anniversary of Galileo's observations
Astronomy highlights during IYA2009 PowerPoint presentations
IYA2009 Wikipedia Entry
IYA2009 SPoCs Questionnaire Report
Best newsletter everrrr
Second best one
European Planetary Science Congress, IYA2009 Session Report
...and a billion other things on astronomy2009.org. If the spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct, odds are Lee wrote it.
Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal
May 2008 - June 2010
No apostrophe errors got into print on his watch. Fact.
Lee was certainly the weaker half of the writing team, but that's nothing new. Check it out if you enjoy the feeling of despair.
WORST CASE SCENARIO #102: having to teach science to a class full of screaming kids. Luckily this survival guide of sorts will help get you through. Even more luckily, it’s only two pages long.
Writing up interviews is great, because it's mostly somebody else's words.
Definitely Lee's kind of science communication.
Proof that the best CAPj articles feature very little of Lee's writing.
Writing in print? Bonus points!
The special astronomy issue of Physics World is available to download free of charge for a while. Pages 48 to 51 are where the action is at. Obviously.
It's an annual dose of journalism.
More words, more pictures. This time in Madrid.
Our favourite hack writer found himself in the German equivalent of Newcastle, working in the Press Office of EuroPlanet's Planetary Science Congress. His main duties were pinning press clippings to the board and eating.
November 2007 - April 2009
Lee managed to get stuff published quite regularly but lived in fear of getting facts HORRIBLY WRONG and being sent to prison or similar. His source material was scientific papers and words from scientists. If you're a scientist he interviewed but your work wasn't written up, Lee apologises but suggests that you speak a bit slower next time.
A decent enough story, but somewhat undermined by Space.com putting it next to "HAVE A WACKO THEORY? WRITE IT UP". What are they trying to say? Read the good stuff here: Space.com, Astrobiology Magazine. And there's something on Daily Kos.
It's time for the next chapter based on work from the legend that is Joop Houtkooper. His brain-matter produces the craziest and yet best theories (well, ones that lend themselves to sensationalist headlines). Let's all raise a glass to Joop and hope that he keeps producing fringe ideas. Because if he doesn't, this science journalist is out of a job. Who has been hailing Joop this week? Space.com, Astrobiology Magazine, MSNBC.com, Space Daily, Tehran Times. Softpedia loves Joop as well, as evidenced by their rejigged article (author name omitted, as usual). The same can be said of Daily Kos. And Universe Today. AND a Dutch site.
Space.com mis-spelled "Pullen". *sigh*. Maybe it's time to start up www.leepullin.co.uk. Attack! Space.com, Astrobiology Magazine, Live Science, Space Travel, a foreign site, GoogleGroups, and My Technology World (who generously omitted both photo and author name). AND there's an article on Softpedia based on the story. Wooooow!
Weird extremophile creature things again, yay! Well, more specifically, the vents that they live around, ‘n’ stuff. Some sites use the “hot spots” headline, while others are braver and use the word “swashbuckling” in the title. Where are these articles? Space.com, Astrobiology Magazine (and the European Edition), Live Science, Terra Daily and The Legend, homepage of Bakr Anqara (obviously).
It’s off to some chilly ice sheets today as we consider how to drill and melt our way through to hidden oceans, all the while trying not to freeze to death. Sounds intriguing? It bloody well should. Special thanks go to the super-helpful principal investigator Peter Weiss. He da man! Heads up: Space.com, Astrobiology Magazine, Live Science and Space Daily are your options.
Surely not another article about Mars? It certainly is, this time a cool tool for detecting life. Admit it: you can't get enough of the Red Planet and in situ instruments designed to work there. Roll call: Astrobiology Magazine, Space.com, Live Science, and Mars Daily.
The answer is a bit more detailed than "they're both bloody cold". This story proved so popular it crashed NASA's astrobiology site. People must really love analogies between Mars and Alaska. You know the drill by now. Astrobiology Magazine, Space.com, Live Science, Fox News and introducing The Hanscom Family Weblog and China Daily. Which will it be?
Truly, what causes asteroids to be a variety of shapes is one of the most important questions of our time. Anyone who disagrees is not to be trusted. The time for answers has arrived! Where are these answers, you ask? Space.com, Live Science, Sott.net and Astrobiology Magazine, of course.
Sweet Lady Luck was smiling upon a group of scientists who were looking for life underground. It's a ground-breaking news story, ahahaha. And now for the important bit: where you can read the article. Your options are Space.com, Astrobiology Magazine, Space Daily or Fox News. Choose wisely.
This story “broke” at the same time as NEITHER FISH NOR FOWL: PLATYPUS GENOME DECODED, so was destined to be overshadowed from the outset. Still, you can check it out if you really want. Space.com, Astrobiology Magazine and Mars Daily are your best options. The Today Show and MSNBC.com are good bets, too.
War! HUH! What is it good for? Many things, including but not limited to resolving territory disputes, advanced weapons development and creating analogies to better explain the robotic exploration of Mars on a grand scale. Doubtful? Read on via the gift of Space.com, MSNBC News or maybe even Live Science? Perhaps give The Today Show a chance.
If you want to know all about robotic exploration of the Moon, then this feature is perfect. Otherwise it’s not. This was picked up by a few sites, probably due to Space.com’s sensationalist headline. Hurrah! Pick your favourite site to read the article: Astrobiology Magazine, Space.com, MSNBC.com.
No doubt you’ve lost track of the number of times you’ve been down the pub with your friends and a fierce debate over the methodology relating to calculating global temperatures within a habitability context has arisen. Well read this and you’ll be clued up enough to be a veritable fact machine. Mine’s a pint! Read this article at the Astrobiology Magazine or Space Daily websites.
Did the Viking missions of the 1970s actually find evidence of Martian microbes? Did they? Hmm? Click and find out!* You can find this happy article at Astrobiology Magazine and Mars Daily.
* For those of you that can’t be bothered with reading the articles, the answer is “maybe”.
Approximately 95% of the world’s population lose sleep thinking about whether the presence of Jupiter in our Solar System is beneficial to the Earth. After skim-reading this, you’ll know that the worry is warranted. Time to build that bunker. You can read this article in full at Astrobiology Magazine or Sky & Telescope.
University of Glamorgan
September 2004 - May 2008
It's a Mickey Mouse learning establishment, but hey. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Lee taught on the undergraduate Astronomy and Space (BSc) module Introduction to Science Communication. Most students passed but those that didn't are probably more suited to a business studies degree anyway.
The Robotic Cyberspace Community Telescope Observatory venture taught astronomy courses in South Wales. On the odd days Lee appeared in the RoCCoTO office, he was the Project Officer. This involved pinching custard cream biscuits and educating hard-to-reach audiences about astronomy. But mostly the biscuit thing.
He was Coordinator for the 3rd Conference of the Astrobiology Society of Britain. His contract wasn't extended due to an administrative balls up. Honest. The conference took place between 1 and 4 July 2008 in the city of Cardiff, UK. Lee has been reliably informed that it was "alright".
Lee managed to get a degree in astronomy and an MSc in science communication, despite avoiding any book over 200 pages long.
Lee directed the first science festival ever held in the Welsh Valleys. In August 2007 the town of Merthyr Tydfil was lucky enough to host "The Science of Romeo & Juliet", a project which knocked 20 years off the lives of all those responsible for organising it. And maybe those who attended too, we can't be sure.
Working as a Science and Engineering Ambassador for SETPOINT Wales, Lee conducted workshops in schools around South Wales. Ok kids, who can tell me something about the Solar System?
Mission to Mars Activities
Lee was Senior Supervisor for the Mission to Mars activities aimed at primary school children from South Wales. He gave inspirational talks and deducted quiz points for even minor / imagined transgressions. Happy days!
Lee designed and organised a month-long series of activities for Welsh kiddies to participate in. Thanks to him over 600 children learnt all about aliens. But is that a good thing?