Introducing Andy Thomas

Andy is an eclectic type: An amateur radio enthusiast (used to chat with MIR), amateur radio astronomer and keen on other space-related amateur radio projects. He says: "More than twenty years ago I recognised my long-term interest in space exploration, but it was only when my father died that I met again the radio ham community that I had been with in the late 1960s, and who were who were now in contact with the cosmonauts and astronauts in space. We, they, remain, the 'common people' who reach out into space." Andy will join #SocialSpaceWA next week At New Norcia (and is the only participant from outside of Australia!).

Andy Thomas G0SFJ-CRAC

Andy Thomas G0SFJ-CRAC - the first-ever #SocialSpace participant with a CN ham radio license?

Andy Thomas, G0SFJ

andythomasmail - Google+

  • Radio "ham" G0SFJ and member of AMSAT-UK, with modest satellite tx/rx station at home
  • Member of the British Interplanetary Society
  • SF Author, this year's novel is called "Vagabond Two"
  • Personal website is andythomasorg

Introducing Stuart McAndrew

Stuart McAndrew is joining us next week for #SocialSpaceWA at New Norcia. He's an IT professional from Perth, Australia, but he has a passion for space. How so? In his spare time, he's developing his own ‪#‎PocketQube‬ satellite called OzQube-1.


Its mission is to take images of the southern hemisphere, especially Australia, and to transmit them via amateur (HAM) radio to listeners all around the world. It's Australia's first PocketQube satellite, and it was created in my backyard shed!


Guest post: Tara Foster

Tara is taking part in ESA's #SocialSpaceWA event at the Estrack deep space station in New Norcia, Western Australia, next week. She mailed to introduce herself to the rest of the 15 participants, and we're sharing it here as a guest post. Why? Because passion, adventure, people, excitement, exploration and space!

Tara Foster

#SocialSpaceWA Deligate • Space/Science Nerd • Adventure Traveller • Aussie-American TV Producer • Nine Network Australia • #NASASocial Alumni

Tara Foster

Tara Foster

If you were offered an adventure of a lifetime without any guarantees, would you take it?

In August 2005, somewhere between Los Angeles and Sydney, I was offered a job that changed the course of my life forever! At fourteen and a half hours, I aced the longest job interview of my life and was now embarking on a journey that I never knew existed.

Telling stories through video has always been a big part of my life. I started working in the television industry at fourteen. For the next four years, I spent most of my afternoons at my community television channel as well as a local production company. I produced award-winning community service programs from fire safety shows to news, documentaries, radio and television commercials.

After graduating high school, I started to fulfil my love of adventure and storytelling by attending American University. There were museums on every corner and experts in every field at my fingertips! Washington DC fit my personality and I thrived! After returning from the World Capitals Program in London, I accepted a position with the former political media advisors of the Clinton White House. Whilst there, I also looked after some of the Kennedy Clan. Then, in 2002, I graduated with a Bachelors in Visual Media and a minor in American Political Science.

For the next three years, I was an Avid editor for the Discovery Channels, NBC News and CBS News. As my final project before my whirlwind journey around the world, I took the roll as online Avid editor for The Five Keys to Mastery documentary.

Since leaving Washington DC, I have worked in all facets of the television industry.  From building professional broadcast edit systems, to creating network brand campaigns and launching Australia’s very first internet channel, HealthyMEtv! I am also extremely excited to have started shooting my very first film, “Rocketmen” which has allowed me to hang out at NASA!

Sure, I’ve been busy, but I’ve also been eager to take time out and travel. In 2013, I left the stability of my producing position at the Seven Network to travel around rural Australia to see, first hand, what it really means to be a true blue Aussie battler!  I spent time in Coober Pedy, where it’s so incredibly hot the locals actually live underground in working Opal mines. I also went scuba diving with great white sharks off the coast of Port Lincoln, South Australia. Last year, I made an epic journey across America in a van for 44 days and just recently lived with a tribe of former head-hunters in the Kelabit highlands of Borneo. These are some of the greatest adventures of my life but nothing can top the time I spent with NASA.

NASA is quite possibly one of my biggest passions. Last year, I attended a social media program designed by NASA that invites 50 bloggers from all around the world to meet scientists, astronauts and engineers to discuss all things NASA. NASASocial gave us the opportunity to get up close to the SpaceX CRS-5 launch. We experienced, first hand, what it takes to pull off a rocket launch. This was a meeting of the minds of some of the biggest NASA cheerleaders in the world and this is why I have decided to film “Rocketmen.”

My name is Tara Foster. I am a keen adventurer, risk taker and a skilled horseback rider. I have no problems speaking with strangers on the bus, trekking deep though mosquito infested jungles or driving eleven hours for a rocket launch.  I also like sunsets, jumping in mud puddles and long walks on the beach.

Update on #SocialSpaceWA

We are totally delighted to introduce the ladies and gentlemen joining us next week at #SocialSpaceWA!

Activities will take place in the evening of Wednesday, 10 February, and during the full day on Thursday, 11 February (AWST time = GMT +8hr), concurrent with ESA's official inauguration ceremony for the new 4.5-m acquisition antenna (see: Tracking new missions from down under).

DSA1 Glowing

ESA’s 35 m-diameter dish antenna at New Norcia, Western Australia, glows with reflected laser light in this photo, taken by Dylan O’Donnell, a photographer based in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia.

Follow any (or all?) of them to stay up to date with the programme at the New Norcia monastery and the behind-the-scenes tour at ESA's deep-space tracking station, 8km outside of the town.

We'll also post short self-intros from some of the participants during the days between now and next week (have already posted several via @Social4Space and ESA FB – Ed).

Dr John Goldsmith

Dr John Goldsmith

Dr John Goldsmith

We also want to introduce Dr John Goldsmith, an astronomer, astrophysicist, researcher, educator and astrophotographer, who will join #SocialSpaceWA for the keynote presentation on Wednesday evening.(See separate blog post here.)

Finally, scroll down for the list of relevant SocMed and other links to use to follow #SocialSpaceWA – We're looking forward to an excellent event!

Participants: #SocialSpaceWA, New Norcia, Western Australia, 10-11 Feb 2016

Kirsten Gottschalk Perth, Aus @ICRAR, @raspberrysauce, @_theSkyNet
Ryan Northover Perth, Aus @tweetperth, Instagram/TweetPerth, FB/TweetPerth
Glen Nagel Canberra, Aus @CanberraDSN, @Astro0Glen
Carol Redford Gingin, Aus FB/StargazersClub, @StargazersClub
Matt Fone Sydney, Aus @mattfone, Instagram/mathu83, FB/mathufone
Troy Mutton Perth, Aus FB/pilerats @pilerats, Instagram/pilerats_
James Baily Adelaide, Aus +JamesBailey, +JamezFrondeskias
Andrew Thomas Market Harborough, UK +andythomasmail
Michaela Jeffery Brisbane, Aus FB/michaela.jeffery.90
Peter Lieverdink NL @cafuego
Duncan Hamilton Sunshione City, Aus @Space___Geek
Stuart McAndrew Perth, Aus @ssshocker, @ozqube1
Susan Belford Fremantle, Aus @reticulite_
Matteo Vinci Perth, Aus @matteovinci, @sprenintl_aus, FB/matteovinci
Tara Foster Sydney, Aus @taraustralis, Instagram/Taraustralis, SnapChat/Taraustralis




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#SocialSpaceWA guest presenter John Goldsmith

Profile on John Goldsmith, keynote speaker at ESA's #SocialSpaceWA social media event, 10 Feb 2016, New Norcia, Australia.

Dr John Goldsmith

Dr John Goldsmith

Dr John Goldsmith is a Western Australian-based astrophotographer with more than 30 years experience and, since 2009, curator of the Astrofest astrophotography exhibition. His PhD research, at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Curtin University, investigated cultural astronomy and the documentation, communication and sharing of Aboriginal sky knowledge, associated with Wolfe Creek Crater and radio astronomy initiatives in the Murchison region of Western Australia. His research applied a suite of digital imaging for site documentation, including astronomical timelapse and 360° spherical imaging. Dr Goldsmith is a member of The World at Night (, a leading global network of astronomical landscape photographers. He is the creative developer behind Celestial Visions ( and his astro-imaging is exhibited worldwide. In 2011, John was awarded the inaugural De Laeter Science Engagement Scholarship, (Gravity Discovery Centre, Western Australia).

#SocialSpaceWA presentation title: The Universe. Yours to discover.
Date/time: 19.30AWST, Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Venue: ESA Educational Room, New Norcia Monastery, New Norcia, Western Australia
Note: Audience restricted to registered participants in #SocialSpaceWA. New Norcia monastery tOWN residents admitted on a space-available basis

The Universe really is yours to discover! Dr John Goldsmith will talk about the fascinating world of astronomy, how it inspires people of all ages and cultures to wonder about the Cosmos, to explore its mysteries, and to discover new insights. Astronomy and the space sciences are full of exciting developments, in which the New Norcia Deep Space Ground Station in Western Australia plays an important role. Dr Goldsmith shares his experience of adventurous astrophotography projects, which have documented unique astronomical events at important terrestrial sites, including World Heritage locations. A superb range of astronomical images and night-time terrestrial landscape photography will be presented.  The dedicated work of astronomers, space scientists and astrophotographers, all inspire new generations to explore and discover the remarkable Universe we live in.

Related web site:
Dr John Goldsmith at The World at Night:
Dr John Goldsmith on Vimeo: