A flurry of excitement rippled through Curtin University when their majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands visited on November 1.
As part of their Australian tour, to mark the 400th anniversary of the landing of Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog, the king and queen first visited the Maritime Museum in Fremantle before visiting Curtin University.
The Royal couple’s visit came about after they had heard about the Dutch and international partnership in constructing the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest radio telescope.
At the university their majesties viewed an SKA mini-station, a prototype of the antennas and electronics to be installed in the Murchison region of WA.
They also met with Dutch and local researchers who worked on the SKA at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research.
The royal couple also toured the Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch. They wore a pair of 3D glasses as they were given a presentation on the Sydney-Kormoran Project, to learn about the WWII wrecks of the HMAS Sydney and the HSK Kormoran located 200km off the WA coast.
Curtin University vice chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said she was delighted to have welcomed the king and queen to campus.
“We feel honoured to have their majesties visit Curtin as part of their busy tour of Australia,” she said.
“Australian and The Netherlands radio astronomy communities have strong historic links.
“The visit was an opportunity for Curtin to showcase the work we are doing with our Dutch partners on the SKA project and also demonstrate the capabilities of the HIVE to create virtual reality simulations.”
Curtin, along with The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, and four other international partners are developing engineering prototypes and scientific techniques for SKA Low.
The SKA Low is the low frequency component of the international SKA telescope that will investigate early universe cosmology, pulsars and transient radio sources.
Director of the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy and International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research Engineering Director Professor Peter Hall said the Australian and Dutch governments were committed to innovation and radio astronomy.
In an address to their majesties Professor Hall said there were three generations of Dutch Australians in the room.
“A new adventure is unfolding 400 years after Dirk Hartog,” he said.
“The federal and Western Australian governments along with the Dutch government have made substantial investments in pathfinder telescopes in both countries and in the new prototype instruments now being built in the Murchison.
“I’m proud of our can-do attitude.”
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima were presented with a copy of The Journal, a radio astronomy children’s novel by Dutch author Anke den Duyn.
Following their visit to Curtin, their majesties headed to Ascot to enjoy the Melbourne Cup.