Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Black Hole Beats and Fresh Autumn Stars

This past Friday (Sep 17) we held an exciting lecture by Professor Janna Levin. She explained the amazing consequences of merging black holes as dictated by General Relativity. The disruptions in spacetime generated by these encounters produce a bizarre kind of music that we may finally tune into with the next generation of gravitational wave detectors.

Following the lecture, most of the audience headed up to the roof of Pupin to take in the beautifully clear evening sky. While volunteers offered the usual celestial close-up views through three telescopes (showing the Moon, Jupiter, Uranus, and the Double Cluster), Josh gave tours of the newly visible Autumn constellations, and down in the lecture hall three more volunteers narrated a remote observing session with a telescope in the Canary Islands.

By all accounts it was a great start to our new season of Friday night events.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Sept. 3: Frits Paerels Talk and Remote Observing

On Friday, Sept. 3 some 140 people attended a lecture by Dr. Frits Paerels about missing matter in the universe. Dr. Paerels described how astronomers came to understand that most of the matter in the universe was unaccounted for. Showing beautiful images of clusters of galaxies and simulations of the large-scale structure of the universe, Dr. Paerels described how only 4% of the universe was made out of normal matter and how fully 50% of it hasn't yet been detected.

After this great talk, we were treated to a remote observation by graduate students Neil Zimmerman and Andrew Brown who imaged Stephan's Quintet using the website slooh.com. These observations were a big hit with our regular visitors. Other newcomers were treated to a tour of the observatory on the roof with an exhortation to return soon!