NOVAC Event Calendar

NOVAC Event Calendar2015-05-11T19:16:50-04:00

Feb
14
Sun
2021
Monthly Meeting – Finding Light in the Dark @ Online via Google Meet
Feb 14 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Finding Light in the Dark

Linda Thomas-Fowler

Sunday, February 14, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
https://meet.google.com/aoj-rfxn-oqd

Abstract:

Linda will present an overview of her journey in astrophotography including the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. She talks about her motivation for doing imaging, the learning curve and the rewards. She also talks about how outreach efforts helped her improve her own skills while helping others at same time.

Mar
14
Sun
2021
Monthly Meeting – The Mysterious Great Dimming of Betelgeuse @ Online via Google Meet
Mar 14 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Monthly Meeting - The Mysterious Great Dimming of Betelgeuse @ Online via Google Meet

The Mysterious Great Dimming of Betelgeuse

Dr. Andrea Dupree, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

Sunday, March 14, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
http://meet.google.com/aoj-rfxn-oqd

Abstract:

The bright cool supergiant Betelgeuse became historically faint a little over one year ago in early February 2020. Various explanations have been offered for its unusual behavior – including conjectures this foreshadows an imminent supernova event. Direct imaging, spatially resolved spectroscopy, polarization measures, infrared, optical and ultraviolet spectra and more help us to unravel what happened to the star. The current state of the star as well as new results from spectroscopic observations with HST will be reported in advance of the next optical minimum expected this spring.

Bio:

Andrea Dupree is an astrophysicist and currently the Head of the Solar, Stellar, Planetary Sciences Division at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, MA. This is the largest research institute for astronomy and astrophysics in the world. She is also a past-President of the American Astronomical Society. Her research interests focus on stars and how they form and evolve, particularly employing spectroscopic techniques for analysis. Andrea has been studying Betelgeuse for a long time – especially from satellites to observe the ultraviolet radiation from the outer layers of the star. She led the team that obtained the first image of a star other than the Sun – Betelgeuse – using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Apr
11
Sun
2021
Public Monthly Meeting – Asteroids and Comets: Earth’s Nearest Neighbors @ Online via Google Meet
Apr 11 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Public Monthly Meeting - Asteroids and Comets: Earth’s Nearest Neighbors @ Online via Google Meet

Asteroids and Comets: Earth’s Nearest Neighbors

Dr. Amy Mainzer

Sunday, April 11, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
meet.google.com/osh-bcyd-gti

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited

Abstract:

Asteroids and comets, leftover fragments from the formation of our solar system, represent repositories of primordial material. As such, they provide clues to the processes by which planetary systems form and evolve. Over time, asteroids and comets have impacted the Earth and its moon, altering the surfaces of both. Scientists’ understanding of these small bodies has grown with improvements in survey technology, as well as in situ exploration missions. Nonetheless, many basic questions about these objects remain, including when the next substantial Earth impact might occur.

Bio:

Dr. Amy Mainzer is a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona. She is the principal investigator of NASA’s NEOWISE mission, which studies Earth-approaching asteroids and comets, and built a camera for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.

May
2
Sun
2021
Public Monthly Meeting – The Last Stargazers @ Online via Google Meet
May 2 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Public Monthly Meeting - The Last Stargazers @ Online via Google Meet

The Last Stargazers

Dr. Emily Levesque

Sunday, May 2, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
meet.google.com/osh-bcyd-gti

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited

Abstract:

A bird that mimicked a black hole. The astronomer that discovered microwave ovens. A telescope that got shot. The science of astronomy is filled with true stories (and tall tales) of the adventures and misadventures that accompany our exploration of the universe. Join Dr. Emily Levesque, author of the new popular science book The Last Stargazers, to take a behind-the-scenes tour of life as a professional astronomer. We’ll learn about some of the most powerful telescopes in the world, meet the people who run them, and explore the crucial role of human curiosity in the past, present, and future of scientific discovery.

Bio:

Emily Levesque is an astronomy professor at the University of Washington. Her work explores how the most massive stars in the universe evolve and die. She has observed for upwards of fifty nights on many of the planet’s largest telescopes and flown over the Antarctic stratosphere in an experimental aircraft for her research. Her academic accolades include the 2014 Annie Jump Cannon Award, a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan fellowship, a 2019 Cottrell Scholar award, and the 2020 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from MIT and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Hawaii.

Jun
13
Sun
2021
Monthly Meeting – ‘Oumuamua – Our Solar System’s First Known Interstellar Visitor @ Online via Google Meet
Jun 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Monthly Meeting - ‘Oumuamua – Our Solar System’s First Known Interstellar Visitor @ Online via Google Meet

The discovery of ‘Oumuamua (1I/2019/U1) represented our first detection of a solar system object with an origin that was definitely outside of our solar system.  Its name comes from Hawaiian meaning “first messenger from afar” yet deciphering its message has proved difficult and controversial. ‘Oumuamua was discovered by the Pan-STARRS telescope at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii on October 19, 2017, when it had already made its closest approach to the Earth on a hyperbolic orbit that would carry it back into the interstellar medium from which it came.  Although currently classified as an interstellar comet, it has characteristics completely unlike any known comet.  Its unusual shape, lack of a coma, and the fact that it exhibited non-gravitational acceleration has made its classification a complex problem.  This talk will cover what is known about ‘Oumuamua and various proposals for its origin, including the suggestion that it is a product of alien technology.

Dr. Michael E. Summers

Sunday, June 13, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
meet.google.com/osh-bcyd-gti

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited

Bio:

Dr. Michael E. Summers is Professor of Planetary Sciences and Astronomy at George Mason University.  He has an undergraduate B.S. from Murray State University in Physics, Mathematics, and Russian, and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the California Institute of Technology.

His research focuses on the structure and evolution of planetary atmospheres.  His research has concerned that of the atmospheres of Earth, Mars, Io, Titan, Triton, Uranus, as well as Pluto and its moon Charon.  His recent work deals with biomarkers on Mars and extrasolar planets.  He is a Co-Investigator on the New Horizons mission to Pluto that was launched in January 2006, performed a flyby of Jupiter in February 2007, reached Pluto in 2105, and did a flyby of Ultima Thule on January 1, 2019.  Michael teaches planetary science, atmospheric science and astrobiology at George Mason University.

Jul
11
Sun
2021
Public Monthly Meeting – Searching for Life on Other Worlds @ Online via Google Meet
Jul 11 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Public Monthly Meeting - Searching for Life on Other Worlds @ Online via Google Meet

Searching for Life on Other Worlds

Are we alone or do we share our solar system and galaxy with other forms of life? And how widespread are advanced civilizations with whom we could communicate?

Robert Naeye

Sunday, July 11, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
meet.google.com/osh-bcyd-gti

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited

Abstract:

Are we alone or do we share our solar system and galaxy with other forms of life? And how widespread are advanced civilizations with whom we could communicate?

Right now we don’t have answers to these profound questions. But scientists are in hot pursuit. The technology of searching for life on other worlds has reached a level of maturity where the first definitive evidence of extraterrestrial life could come in the very near future.

Science journalist Robert Naeye will explore three different roads for detecting life beyond Earth:

  1. Launching robotic spacecraft to discover life on Mars or other worlds in our solar system.
  2. Deploying large telescopes to detect the chemical signatures of life in the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars.
  3. Using various techniques to pick up signals from advanced civilizations or to find evidence of their technological activities.

Robert’s talk will be loosely based on a cover story he wrote for the September 2020 issue of Astronomy magazine. His talk will be nontechnical and intended for a general audience.

Bio:

Robert Naeye is a freelance science journalist based in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He is a former editor in chief of Sky & Telescope, the world’s most respected popular astronomy magazine. He also worked for NASA at its Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. During his 30-year career he has written hundreds of articles about astronomy and space science. He has authored two books and contributed to three others. Please visit his website at www.robertnaeye.com.

Aug
8
Sun
2021
August 8 – Public Monthly Meeting – To Bennu and Back Again: the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Mission @ Online via Google Meet
Aug 8 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
August 8 - Public Monthly Meeting - To Bennu and Back Again: the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Mission @ Online via Google Meet

To Bennu and Back Again: the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Mission

Are we alone or do we share our solar system and galaxy with other forms of life? And how widespread are advanced civilizations with whom we could communicate?

Dr. Hannah Kaplan

Sunday, August 8, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
meet.google.com/osh-bcyd-gti

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited

Abstract:

On October 20, 2020, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully collected a sample from the surface of near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu. That sample will be delivered to Earth in 2023 for analysis in state-of-the-art laboratories. In the meantime, our best information on Bennu’s origin, geologic history, and composition comes from instruments on the spacecraft, which observed the asteroid for multiple years before sample collection. Important findings include the presence of water and organics on the surface, and contamination from other asteroids. Through the lens of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft observations, Dr. Kaplan will describe Bennu’s history and implications for the returned sample.

Bio:

Dr. Kaplan is a research space scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center. She uses remote sensing observations to understand the composition of planetary surfaces, including asteroids and Mars. She is a member of the OSIRIS-REx science team and the Lucy L’Ralph instrument science team. Before coming to Goddard, Dr. Kaplan worked at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado where she was a postdoctoral researcher working on OSIRIS-REx.

Sep
12
Sun
2021
Public Monthly Meeting – Astronomy with X-rays: How, Where, and Most Importantly Why? @ Online via Google Meet
Sep 12 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Public Monthly Meeting - Astronomy with X-rays: How, Where, and Most Importantly Why? @ Online via Google Meet

Astronomy with X-rays: How, Where, and Most Importantly Why?

Dr. Randall Smith

Sunday, September 12, 2021
7:30 PM
 to 9:00 PM EST

Online event
meet.google.com/osh-bcyd-gti

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited

Abstract:

X-ray astronomy began in 1962 when Riccardo Giacconi and his team launched a sounding rocket with an X-ray detector designed to look at the Moon – and unexpectedly found a far brighter source in Scorpius they called Sco X-1. Generating X-rays requires energetic processes – big explosions, strong gravitational fields, and collisions of fast or even relativistic particles. Observing them thus reveals just what’s going on in these exciting regions of space.  We can also take advantage of the penetrative properties of X-rays – just as we do to look at a broken bone here on Earth – to study material between the source and us as the X-rays are absorbed and scattered by gas and dust. Since 1962 the field has exploded, with a range of new detectors as well as techniques to make high-quality X-ray “mirrors.” This talk will be a survey of the field, highlighting important discoveries as well as the instrumentation required, as well as discussing where we’re going next.

Bio:

An astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Randall Smith primarily works in high-energy astrophysics. He is involved with multiple X-ray observatories, both current and planned; his personal research focuses on the interstellar medium and on maintaining an atomic database that is used throughout the field to model the spectra of hot collisional plasmas. He earned his PhD in 1997 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with the Space Physics group and advisor, Dr. Don Cox.

Oct
10
Sun
2021
Public Monthly Meeting – Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo @ Online via Google Meet
Oct 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Public Monthly Meeting - Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo @ Online via Google Meet

Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo

Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, PhD

Sunday, October 10, 2021

7:30 PM to 9:00 PM EST

Online event

meet.google.com/osh-bcyd-gti

Monthly Meeting – Public Invited

Abstract:

On July 20th, 1969, over half the world’s population witnessed Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon. While often remembered as a scientific and technological feat, the ambitions of the Apollo program aimed far beyond the Moon. Through spaceflight, America sought to win hearts and minds, foster alliances, and shape the political trajectories of newly independent nations. Drawing on a rich array of untapped archives and firsthand interviews, Operation Moonglow knits together a story of politics and propaganda; diplomacy and spaceflight; decolonization and globalization to reveal the political forces that not only sent humans to the Moon but also attracted the largest audience in history.

Bio:

Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony is the curator of the Apollo Collection at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. She earned a PhD from MIT and has held positions at the American Institute of Physics and the Adler Planetarium and Science Museum. She is the author of Operation Moonglow: A Political History of Project Apollo (2020) and Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects (2018), and a contributor to the television series Apollo’s Moon Shot. In addition, Muir-Harmony co-organizes the Space Policy & History Forum and teaches at Georgetown University.

 

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