Observing Editor Diana Hannikainen is thrilled to join the staff of Sky & Telescope, where she is reconnecting with the night sky that so mesmerized her in her youth. Diana grew up in a multinational diplomatic family, and bounced from one country to another. Consequently much of her childhood is a blur. But she vividly remembers the night skies as viewed from outside of Brasilia in the central Brazilian highlands. The blackness was endless, the stars twinkled madly, and satellites zipped overhead. On one fateful night, a friend of the family’s took out his telescope — lo and behold, there was glorious Saturn in the eyepiece. Diana was so blown away by the sight that she actually lost her balance and fell over, and from that moment on she was hooked on everything astronomical.
Following an undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Diana decided to explore her Finnish roots, and headed over to the University of Helsinki to pursue postgraduate studies. There she earned an MSc, followed by a PhD in high energy astrophysics. Her research focused on microquasars, or X-ray binaries that exhibit radio jets – systems that mimic quasars on morphological levels, but for the scaled-down black holes. Diana embarked on her PhD research from an X-ray astronomy perspective but was lucky to have forged a collaboration (that lasted throughout her research career) with astronomers at the University of Sydney in Australia. This opened up the ever-fascinating world of radio astronomy to her (and permitted her to visit warmer climes during the Nordic winters).
Outside of astronomy, Diana is passionate about theater, and besides acting also co-founded an English-language theater company while in Finland. She is an avid tennis player, and would also like to get back onto a volleyball court at some point. After seven years in Florida where she discovered birding, Diana is now eager to learn all about the birds of New England.