Together with his former colleague Mark Neeser, Peter Barthel produced several well-known astronomical photographs, using multi-band exposures with the FORS Camera of ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Three of these appeared together in ESO’s web release Three Dusty Beauties, whereas another one – the Sombrero Galaxy, Messier 104 – features in the top page of the website you are currently reading. The relevant web release is Fine Shades of a Sombrero. Several of these VLT images appeared as NASA’s APOD, Astronomy Picture of the day, such as Messier66.
Starting in 2008, Peter Barthel collaborates with the Grieg Pianoduo, Elles van der Heiden and Siebert Nix, in a project combining 4-hand piano music with astronomy video.
The collaboration featured a world premiere in september 2009, of a new work “The Sombrero Galaxy”, composed for the Grieg duo and Barthel, by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask, for which the composer used Barthel’s Sombrero poster as inspiration. More information can be found in the article on p.16/17 of the July 2011 issue of the Journal “Communicating Astronomy to the Public”.
Summarizing the views which he developed through many years of publicly discussing the relation between science and religion, and motivated by a question of a 7-year old elementary school pupil, Peter Barthel published his short, unique booklet “Professor, bestaat God?” (“Professor, does God exist?”) in 2017. Its third edition appeared in Spring 2019, and the English version is in preparation. Reviews can be found here.
At the occasion of the 4th centenary of Groningen University in 2014, Peter Barthel and his colleague George van Kooten organized the first ever interdisciplinary international scientific conference on Matthew’s story of the Star of Bethlehem and the Magi. The resulting book was published by Brill, and is available as hardback and paperback.
Peter Barthel became the first director (Rector) of the Pre-university Academy (Scholierenacademie) of Groningen University, in 2005. This Academy, which recently celebrated its 12.5 years of existence, is now an important tool in the outreach towards secondary school students. The Science Hub Northern Netherlands (Wetenschapsknooppunt Noord-Nederland), targeting elementary schools was added in 2010. Many Children’s University (Kinderuniversiteit) lectures and lots of other inspirational activities have been offered since 2005. The picture below shows a lecturer (Dutch astronaut), director Peter Barthel, and Academy coordinators Arjen Dijkstra and Douwe van der Tuin. In July 2018 Barthel stepped down: prof. Diederik Roest became his successor.
Peter Barthel was member of the (2005-2011) NiNa (Nieuwe Natuurkunde: New Physics) committee revising the national secondary education physics curriculum. The revised curriculum now offers elementary astronomy and astrophysics within the HAVO and VWO exam programs. A short description as well as relevant documentation (in Dutch) can be found here.
Peter Barthel initiated the production of a sun-moon-earth model (Tellurium), to be used in primary education. The Tellurium was produced by Nienhuis/Heutink, a firm specialized in Montessori education, and can be ordered from their website.
Peter Barthel made an audiobook (“luisterboek”) on the Moon, with six separate lectures/chapters, for the age group 9-90. The audiobook (in Dutch) can be ordered as CD or download..
At Peter Barthel’s initiative, Mozart’s last symphony, #41, KV 551 “Jupiter”, was performed in the central hall of the Faculty of Science and Engineering building, end of 2009, to mark the end of that year – the World Year of Astronomy.
Peter Barthel is member of the advisory board for primary and secondary education of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, KNAW.
In winter 2010 Peter Barthel carried out a small project researching the moon phases as depicted on SantaClaus (Sinterklaas) gift wrap and books, and on Christmas cards, in The Netherlands and the USA. The resulting publication caused many smiles and substantial press coverage, including the Dec5 Pauw & Witteman talk show.
Together with his Groningen team Peter Barthel won the 2007-08 national Academische Jaarprijs for science communication, for their project “Discover the invisible universe”, explaining infrared radiation and infrared astronomy to school children and the public-at-large.
In 2014 Barthel won the national Willem de Graafprijs for his efforts in astronomy outreach and education.