Observational Astronomy

The Colossus Project: Designing an optical/IR instrument to detect life outside the solar system

colossusThis talk describes an effort  to detect life, and even conduct a planetary census, in our cosmic neighborhood. I'll describe some results from the Colossus group, an interdisciplinary science and engineering team, working to show how telescopes  much larger than the TMT or EELT could be built today by relaxing some of the astronomical requirements of current "world's largest telescope" projects.

The Once and Future Kepler

keplerDr. Jon Jenkins, head of the Data Analysis team on the Kepler Mission, will discuss the current status of the Kepler mission and the ailing spacecraft, and will also discuss the recently selected TESS Mission, which will follow on from Kepler in detecting planets by observing the dimming of starlight as planets pass in front of the parent star. 

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Entering the Era of Petascale Optical Astronomy

lsst site

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Entering the Era of Petascale Optical Astronomy

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST;http://lsst.org) is a planned, large-aperture, wide-field, ground-based telescope that will survey half the sky every few nights in six optical bands from 320 to 1050 nm. It will explore a wide range of astrophysical questions, ranging from discovering “killer” asteroids, to examining the nature of dark energy.

Breaking the Seeing Barrier for Planetary Astronomy

planets When Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope toward Jupiter in 1609 and discovered what we now call the Galilean moons, he did not realized that he had just established a new research field in astronomy.

On the road to extragalactic transient discoveries

Surveys for radio pulsars serve as excellent historical records of the Galactic and extragalactic radio sky on sub-second time scales.

Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer

No scientist is a Spock-like android; a scientist's work is as intuitive, and just as full of human foibles, as a painting, a symphony, or a prayer. But most of us don't have the opportunity (or training) to reflect on the human dimensions of our work. Br.

Optics tricks to image and study habitable exoplanets

exoplanetsDirectly imaging exoplanets is both scientifically exciting but notoriously challenging. Scientifically, obtaining images of rocky planets in the habitable zones of stars is key to finding if and how life developed outside the solar system.

Star Formation through Radio Eyes: Probing Magnetic Fields with CARMA

carma telescopeHow do stars form?  How can we use radio waves to probe the origins of stars within their cold, dusty natal clouds?  And how do magnetic fields affect the star-formation process?  Come and find out how I use CARMA, a millimeter-wave radio telescope in the Eastern Sierras, to find answers to these questions.  I will begin by discussing the basics of radio astronomy, radio telescopes, and star formation.

Exploring the Dark Side of the Universe

In this talk Dr. Fassnacht will show how the powerful combination of sensitive, high-resolution imaging with gravitational lensing can provide direct observational tests of galaxy formation scenarios under the cold dark matter paradigm as well as interesting constraints on cosmology. In particular, he will discuss the following two subjects. (1) Placing constraints on the Hubble Constant, curvature, and the dark energy equation of state parameter that are independent of and complementary to those obtained by other observational probes.


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