Celebrating the Persian New Year at MSSL

Hello World,

I am Paniez Paykari, a new postdoctoral researcher at MSSL-UCL. I am a cosmologist and since joining the Astro group at MSSL in February, I have been working on Weak Lensing (WL). My previous work was mostly focused on the cosmic microwave background (CMB). I work with Tom Kitching, co-leader of the Euclid Weak Lensing Science Working Group, and the leader of the CFHTLenS cosmology working group. The switch from CMB to WL has been really exciting; WL is at the beginning of its journey towards precision cosmology and there are so many challenges that need to be overcome. For some people this is exciting and for some demotivating. For me, it has been very motivating! I enjoy discovering and overcoming challenges.

Today, I gave a talk at MSSL so that the Astro group could become familiar with me and my research. The talk was about one of my ongoing projects, titled: “Sparsely Sampling the Sky: A Bayesian Experimental Design Approach”. It is about optimising galaxy surveys by sparsely sampling the sky. The idea of sparse sampling has been around for some time, but there was never a quantitative investigation! So, this was the first time. My talk went well. I generally enjoy giving talks though, and the usually fruitful and enjoyable discussions during/after my talks.


My talk had to be short though (everybody likes short talks, so no harm done), as we were celebrating the Persian New Year — Nowruz — right after my talk. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Persian Calendar; originally a Zoroastrian festival, it is celebrated at the exact time of the astronomical Vernal Equinox; the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator (where night and day are exactly equal) is calculated every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals. This year the Vernal Equinox happens on March 20th at 22:45:10 GMT! In 2010, the UN’s General Assembly recognised the International Day of Nowruz, describing it as a spring festival which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.

Coincidently, we have the solar eclipse Friday morning, with the time of the maximum eclipse at 9:31am GMT. Having a new moon ‘supermoon’ total solar eclipse and the spring equinox falling on the same day is a very rare astronomical event. Next ones will happen in 2053 and 2072. Read more about why this is rare here: http://earthsky.org/tonight/supermoon-to-stage-total-eclipse-of-the-sun-on-march-20

Being of Iranian origins, I was one of the hosts, along with Ali Varsani. Over the last few years, Iranian students/staff at MSSL have been sharing this happiness with others by brining some Persian Pastry. This year there are three Iranians at MSSL, including myself. So, I bought some Persian Pastry from one of London’s Iranian shops, along with a small miniature “Haft Seen” to celebrate year 1394 of the Persian Calendar with the rest of the MSSL team.


If you want to know about the Persian New Year you can watch the 5-min video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsuAoZ5IYiU or see the wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nowruz.

If you want to know more about me you can visit my old website at CEA-Saclay (My new MSSL one will be available soon): http://www.cosmostat.org/home/ppaykari/

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous Persian New Year.


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