“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”

Carl Sagan

About Me

Welcome to my site! I’m an astronomer and science communicator based in London and currently working at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. In this capacity I aim to inspire people to take a closer look at their Universe, explore its inner workings and discover its breathtaking beauty.

I’m an experienced speaker, writer and press expert with a passion for the night sky and a background in astrophysics. I have a broad interest in science and public engagement, including broadcasting and museums, but I prefer to focus my own expertise to the highest standard I can achieve. When I'm not embedded in astronomical projects, I can usually be found running, enjoying music, exploring the countryside and sampling real ales!

To get in contact, please click here.

Twitter | LinkedIn

tkheadshot

Astronomy

Astronomy is the oldest natural science, and a portal to a lifetime of learning. In a few short centuries since the introduction of the telescope, our horizon has expanded on a scale unimaginable to the stargazers of the Antiquity and Middle Ages.

We've discovered that the Universe is still cooling from an extraordinary change of state 13.8 billion years ago, the afterglow of which permeates every cubic millimetre of space, and that its countless stars and worlds surely outnumber every breath drawn by every human who has ever lived.

Yet as larger instruments probe ever more remote regions of the Cosmos, our place within it is far from diminished. Indeed our significance only grows as astronomy presents a profound opportunity for self-discovery. In just the past century we've come to understand that almost all the stuff you and I are made of was literally forged by stars before being scattered throughout the Galaxy; a truth almost too beautiful to believe.

delphinuskerss
My favourite constellation, Delphinus, photographed from Greenwich

My main scientific interests have always been the physics of stars and the properties of the interstellar medium, but I'm also deeply enamoured with cosmology and cosmic origins; elegant and mathematically intricate models inspired by Einstein's revolution in gravitation.

Nevertheless I still get my greatest thrill from simply observing, studying and recording phenomena in the night sky, so my ambition is to make a stargazer out of everyone I meet.

As an urban astronomer living in one of the brightest cities in the world, I'm keen to promote taking an interest in the sky regardless of the conditions that may be up against you. Light pollution shouldn't discourage you from exploring the Universe.

Hopefully you'll begin watching the stars if you aren't doing so already. After all, they're your name in lights!

Imaging

Since the introduction of photography to astronomy in the 19th Century, cameras have been used to peer beyond the limits of the human eye as powerful tools for discovery and measurement. Modern digital technology and advanced processing techniques allow today's astronomers to produce arresting works of art that demand further investigation. There's little doubt that the flurry of fantastic images continuously generated by the world's observatories (and those in space or on other worlds) is the primary driver generating public interest in the field.

Sun_CaK_Kerss
Magnetic storms crackling on the Sun's surface, revealed in Calcium K-band light

TLE_highcolour_kerss
Late stages of a total lunar eclipse - ultra high colour composite showing atmospheric layers

I'm an amateur photographer, and I've always been interested in the intersection between art and science. Virtually all astronomical images are subject to some adjustment and processing after they're captured, so it falls on the individual to decide what they want to draw attention to, and how natural or modified the result will look.

I try to present a variety of perspectives with my own images, from lunar closeups that approximate the view an Apollo astronaut might describe, to heavily processed pieces showing enhanced colours or details of scientific interest. Capturing and processing images is a rewarding challenge for an astronomer based in a city.

I am experimenting with and developing novel methods to mitigate the effects of light pollution on astronomical images (and data) in the hope that I can encourage other urban astronomers to do the same. I'm also interested in pushing the limits of smaller, more portable optics and marrying modern cameras with historic instruments, such as the telescopes at the Royal Observatory.

On occasion, particularly interesting images or collections inspire me combine real data and entirely artificial composition to produce purely artistic works.
Clavius_Kerss
Close up of lunar crater Clavius captured with the 28" Victorian refractor at the Royal Observatory

Double_Stars_Kerss
Composite of different colourful double stars at the same image scale - β Cyg, 61 Cyg, γ Del & ε Lyr

Press & Media

Learning about the Universe fuels the public imagination, and shouldn't be confined to academic institutions. I relish the opportunity to bring astronomy to the widest possible audience, whether it's about scientific developments, current events in the sky or popular culture. If you'd like to make a press request, please contact the Royal Museums Greenwich Press Office. Below is an incomplete list of some of my press and media work.

bbc_one_show_kerss
Chatting about astronomy with space superfan Nile Rodgers on The One Show
sky_news_kerss_eclipse
Continuous live eclipse coverage with Sky News at the Royal Observatory
saturday_show_kerss
Discussing alien life and our own cosmic origins on The Saturday Show
  • TV appearances: BBC - The One Show, London News, News 24, World News, Newsround, The Sky at Night; ITV News; Channel 5 News; The Saturday Show; Sunday Brunch; Sky News; CNN International; The Weather Network
  • Radio: BBC - Radio 4 (Natural Histories, PM Programme), Regional News, 5 Live (News, Hitlist), World Service (WHYS), Mark Forrest Show; LBC; Classic FM; Capital FM
  • Written work & comment: The Guardian (Starwatch), Mashable, Daily Mail, Evening Standard, Radio Times, Astronomy Now, Londonist, Express, Space.com, The Sun, Financial Times, Telegraph, FHM, Economic Times, Shutterbug

(This space reserved!)


tov2012small
2012 transit of Venus, captured from Hawaii

Mindfulness

I have recently started leading a weekly mindfulness group having practised meditation for several years. Mental health is seldom considered to be as important as physical health, but the tide is beginning to change. Mindfulness has its roots in ancient Eastern tradition, regarded as one of the cornerstones of Buddhist philosophy, and has been used with great success as a basis for therapy programmes for decades. In just the past few years, an explosion of scientific research has been performed to evaluate the potential benefits of meditation.

Practising mindfulness - quite simply holding one's attention in the present moment with an attitude of acceptance to the phenomena that arise in the mind and body - has been linked to stress and anxiety reduction, preventing depression and relapse, and even reducing inflammation biomarkers by slowly and steadily rewiring the brain. With future research, it is likely that other benefits will emerge.

For further information about mindfulness, including benefits and resources, see the Oxford Mindfulness Centre website.

In due course, I will post links to my own recorded meditation guides as audio files. My guided meditations are structured according to the practical methods clinically innovated by Prof. Jon Kabat-Zinn from the 1970s onwards.

Please revisit this page or follow me on Twitter to be kept up-to-date about these links!

Contact Me

Leave me a message and I'll get back to you!