Summer School 2023

Astronomy and Artificial Intelligence Summer School

Our summer school for PhD astronomy students was part of the Epistemic Insight Future of Knowledge Initiative at Canterbury Christ Church University and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

We were delighted to include a keynote by Prof Chris Lintott from Oxford University and talks by Dr Marc Sarzi of Armagh Observatory and Planetarium and Professor Kevin Walsh, Astronomer-in-Residence, Westminster School.

Video of the 2023 Summer School

The Programme

More about the PhD students

We were pleased to welcome students from universities spread across the UK (Warwick, Kent, Exeter, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool John Moores and Queen’s university Belfast). Some were beginning their explorations of AI while others were already using AI in their research.

William Beckwith-Chandler is a Mathematics researcher at the University of Exeter who is interested in studying the dynamics of solar prominences. He is exploring whether Machine Learning could be used to help forecast prominence eruptions. David Law is working in astrophysics at Liverpool John Moore University. His PhD research is working with AI to address the problem of telescope scheduling. Realigning a telescope from pointing towards one target of interest in space to another takes time and the problem of scheduling becomes even more complicated when we factor in the occasional ‘must see’ surprising event. Assisting with AI could mean faster decisions.


Despite its short length, we packed in a wide range of speakers


Inspiration for the summer school came from our event at the Royal Society of Chemistry where experts in Astronomy, Oceanography and AI experts engaged in conversations about the Future of Knowledge.

We wanted to know: Can bringing researchers together from different fields produce new solutions to opportunities and problems that are visible now and some we haven’t yet foreseen? Professor Berry Billingsley suggested:

Imagine a Sub – on a mission in the deepest parts of the ocean that seems to make its own decisions about where to explore and what images to record and what data to send back to the research team on shore. Or an apparently autonomous Space Probe on a mission to address humanity’s biggest mysteries – who are we, what is our purpose, are there more like us beyond our own planet? Want to see what the future might hold – these experts can help to take you there!

Schools Project

Our next development will be workshops for schools. The video below showcases a pilot session co-created with teachers in one of our research schools. We envisage that our schools programme will provide public engagement opportunities for PhD astronomy students including and in particular those attending our summer school.


About Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church is a modern multi-campus university with around 15,000 students and 1,800 staff.

Our Canterbury Campus

Situated on a World Heritage Site, our Canterbury campus offers great facilities, you can step out into a vibrant and world-famous cathedral city while benefitting from excellent learning and teaching resources, music venues, a super sports centre, a well-stocked bookshop and plenty of coffee bars and places to eat.

Our multi-million-pound investment over the last decade on new and renovated buildings is part of our commitment to providing a first-class student experience. Developments started with the creation of a stunning creative arts building, followed by a major facility for science, technology, health, engineering and medicine.


Maps and directions