Observational Astronomy

Siding Spring at Mars, 209P/Linear at Earth and other close encounters with comets SETI Talks

Nine days after the event, SETI Institute meteor astronomer Dr. Peter Jenniskens gives an update on what we know so far from the close encounter of comet Siding Spring with Mars on October 19, and the study of meteor showers on Earth, including the shower that was seen during the close passage of comet 209P/Linear by Earth in May.

The Gemini Planet Imager initial performance and data analysis

Gemini Planet Imager schematicThe Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a dedicated facility for directly imaging and spectroscopically characterizing extrasolar planets. It combines a very high-order adaptive optics system, a diffraction-suppressing coronagraph, and an integral field spectrograph with low spectral resolution but high spatial resolution. GPI has been tuned for maximum sensitivity to faint planets near bright stars.

Our Galactic Center

milky way galaxy illustrationAbstract: Evidence has been accumulating for several decades that many galaxies harbor central mass concentrations that may be in the form of black holes with masses between a few million to a few billion times the mass of the Sun.

Khayyam: A Tunable Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer for Broadband Observation of Diffuse Emission Line Targets

Shane telescope at Lick ObservatoryAbstract: Sona Hosseini will report on progress toward development of a tunable spatial heterodyne spectrometer (TSHS) at the fixed focus of the Coudé Auxiliary Telescope (CAT) in the Shane Telescope at Lick Observatory (Khayyam).

Towards Improved Occurrence Rates of Exoplanets: The Properties of Stars Observed by Kepler

Abstract: The detection of over 3000 new exoplanets by the NASA Kepler mission has opened up the possibility to infer the occurrence rate of planets in the habitable zones of stars in our galaxy. However, both the characteristics of the detected planets and their occurrence rates crucially depend on our understanding of properties of the stars that were observed.

Studying our Atmosphere at 500 kph: The AJAX Project at NASA Ames

ajax from nasaThe Alpha Jet Atmospheric Experiment (AJAX) project at NASA Ames Research Center measures in-situ carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) concentrations in our atmosphere several times each month.  Our project goals are to study local photochemical smog production, provide data for long-term studies of trans-Pacific transport of pollution, and support the observ

Deciphering year-to-year wiggles on the Keeling Curve

mauna loa observatoryThe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 315 parts per million by volume (ppm) when Charles Keeling started his measurement at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, in 1958. It surpassed 400 ppm on May 9, 2013 for the first time in the 55-year continuous record of measurements.

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