Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 21: Astronomy in Antarctica

Last Friday evening, we had an excellent lecture on Astronomy in Antarctica given by Dr. Ross Williamson, a research scientist at Columbia University. In his talk, Ross explained the advantages of carrying out astronomical research in Antarctica, described his interesting experience traveling and working on the South Pole Telescope, and showed us dazzling pictures along with a beautiful movie. He also talked about some current experiments and their results.

Following the lecture, Jia Liu gave a slide show on neutron stars and Yuan Li showed the movie Cosmic Collisions in the lecture hall. The sky was cloudy that evening, but our roof volunteers Jeff Andrews, Christine Simpson, Josh Schroeder, Sam Gordon and Emir Karamehmetoglu gave a nice telescope tour to the visitors. On the 13th floor, Jana Grcevich showed a 3D movie Einstein's Universe which explains how Einstein's theory of general relativity is used in Astronomy.

Thanks to the 8 volunteers and the 160 people who came to our event!


Friday, October 14, 2011

October 8: Family Astro - The Moon

This past Saturday, Columbia Outreach held Family Astro, a 2-hour event designed for children and their parents to learn about astronomy. In honor of International Observe the Moon Night, the theme of this semester's event was the Moon. Lauren Corlies and Ian Allen showed a movie depicting the formation of our moon and answered any and all related questions. Up in our big dome, Duane Lee and David Hendel displayed our biggest telescope and demonstrated the how the phases of the moon worked.

Our final and most exciting event headed by Lia Corrales asked the children to devise a spaceship(container) for an astronaut(egg) which could survive a landing on the moon (a drop). The egg drop was very successful with almost all participants successfully saving their eggs using a combination of play-doh, cups, balloons, tape and cotton balls.

The afternoon was fun and educational and we look forward to next semester's Family Astro.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 7: The City Dark

Our outreach series season continued with a screening of the documentary "The City Dark." Created by a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, the documentary examines the growth of light pollution, specifically in New York city, and the negative effects this can have. In particular, the documentary focused on how as a species we are losing our cosmic perspective and that desirable connection found by really looking at the stars.

Despite the light pollution, observing took place. Yuan Li showed visitors the moon while Duane Lee displayed Jupiter and its Galilean moons. Cameron Hummels and Adrian Price-Whelan were even able to show visitors the Ring Nebula. Before observing, others enjoyed seeing the 3D Wall with Jana Grcevic or having a discussion with Lauren Corlies and Summer Ash on the science behind the recent Nobel Prize in Physics.

Thank you to the approximately 250 people who came out for our event. You're support and interest are greatly appreciated.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

September 30: Strange New Exoplanets!

Last night we kicked off our fall outreach season with a bang! Visiting planet-hunter and astrophysicist Ray Jayawardhana presented an excellent talk on the field of exoplanetary discoveries. As a researcher actively engaged in exoplanetary discoveries, he took us through the entire evolution of this exploding young field in astrophysics. This lecture was part of his book tour, promoting his new popular science book: "Strange New Worlds." He was available to sign copies of his book after the lecture.

Despite the clouds and rain, we still put on a good show. Dr. Josh Peek and Cameron Hummels explained the new results of the neutrinos which may have traveled faster than light, and later answered questions on a variety of topics in modern astrophysics. Jana Grcevic and Miao Li took visitors on tours of the telescopes and the Rutherfurd Observatory. Finally, Yuan Li operated the 3D wall, showing audience members 3D views of our Universe.

Thanks to the 160 members of the public who attended!