Prof. Richard Ellis

Last updated: 21 June 2011

In this week's programme Adam meets Prof. Richard Ellis, the Welsh-born astronomer who's looking deep into space to witness the origins of the universe.

Richard Ellis & Adam Walton

For an astronomer, a telescope is a time machine. The more powerful the telescope, the more distant the stars it can see and, because the light from those stars can take billions of years to reach us, the further back in time you can look. And Welsh astronomer Richard Ellis has looked the furthest - 13.2 billion years, which is 95% of the way back to the Big Bang.

Richard was born and raised in Colwyn Bay and is now Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology. His hunt for ever older stars and galaxies has taken him to within half a billion years of the birth of the cosmos and he's part of the team that's building one of the world's biggest telescopes so that astronomers can gaze even further back in time. He was also closely involved in the discovery that, not only is the universe expanding, the rate of that expansion is actually speeding up.

Adam took the opportunity to meet Richard on a rare visit home when he was guest of honour at the recent National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno. Their conversation ranges from the birth of the universe and the discovery of dark energy to dinner with Patrick Moore and the copy of Patrick's novel in Colwyn Bay Library which originally inspired Richard to reach for the stars.

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