From Redcar and Cleveland to the stars

WHEN Professor Carole Haswell takes to the stage to address a group of the most influential business and community leaders in July, she can be somewhat confident she will be the only person in the room who has ever discovered a planet – more than 200 in fact.

The Open University’s Head of Astronomy will be the keynote speaker at the next Redcar | Cleveland Ambassadors event on Friday 12 July, 7.45am at the Materials Processing Institute in South Bank.

Joining the Ambassador scheme as the 300th member, Professor Haswell will be part of a growing movement to position the borough of Redcar and Cleveland as a great place to live, enjoy and do business.

The theme of the event is ‘Forging Bridges’ and Professor Haswell fits the bill perfectly. Although now based in Milton Keynes, Professor Haswell remains a Boro fan and is a keen advocate for the Teesside region forging bridges to the wider world.

Professor Haswell, who tweets under the name @saltburnlass, will discuss her life and career and ongoing connections to Redcar and Cleveland at the event.

Asked about her commitment to her home borough, the astrophysicist said: “Simply put, Redcar and Cleveland is home.

“The people are friendly and welcoming, and the area is full of beauty.

“I have vivid, happy memories of playing in Locke Park when I lived near there, and when we were 11 or so with friends I used to walk from Saltburn to Redcar in the summer holidays.

“All my friends down here know I am a proud Teessider, even down to my Boro mug.

“I have some potentially useful contacts with a wide variety of skills and  am always happy to help spread the word!”

A renowned expert in the field of Exoplanets, (the study of planets orbiting stars other than our sun), Professor Haswell has discovered more than 200 planets in her career.  It was while working as part of an international team that Professor Haswell made her most significant find – the discovery of Barnard’s Star b, a planet which orbits the red dwarf Barnard’s star some six light years away.

The planet is three times the size of the earth but with a surface temperature of minus 150C it’s rather chilly.

Professor Haswell commented: “The discovery of Barnard’s Star b made me smile:  the more we find out about the galaxy, the more it seems like the version Captain Kirk explored in Star Trek!

“I’m involved in some more forthcoming planet discoveries which are even more exciting to me but it’s top secret at the moment.”

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