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Meet an Astrophysicist and Science Communicator

Meet an Astrophysicist and Science Communicator

Meet Kirsten Banks, an astrophysicist who studies the stars in the Milky Way galaxy and loves to talk about space as a science communicator!

KZ: What inspired your decision to become an astrophysicist?

K: When I was in Year 9 or 10, my science teachers took the whole year group on an excursion to see a documentary about the Hubble Space Telescope on a massive movie screen. I remember seeing those incredible photos of space taken by a phenomenal telescope and, in that moment, I thought, ‘Space is awesome! This is what I want to do, this is what I want to study. I need to know more about the Universe!’

KZ: What is the best thing about your job, and the hardest?

K: The best thing about my job is being able to constantly learn new things! Right now, we know a decent amount about the Universe around us, but there are a lot of questions that scientists, like me, are trying to answer. On top of that, there’s a lot of stuff about the Universe that we just don’t know at all. That is what excites me the most about my job; I am constantly learning new things every single day! The hardest part about my job is working with lots and lots of data. There are hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy and we have observed just over half a million of them. Working on huge amounts of data can be seriously overwhelming!

KZ: Did you study any subjects or courses, take part in any activities or have any hobbies as a child that helped with your career?

K: I used to play the saxophone a lot when I was younger. I was in all of the bands at school and I joined a few bands outside of school too. Looking back on that now, I think that the skills I learned through performing help me perform well in a different way through my science communication.

Read more of our interview with Kirsten Banks in the October issue of K-Zone, on sale now!

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