Weekly Digest Feb. 14, 2014
On Wednesday, February 26th, 2014, at 7 pm, Dr. Alex Filippenko (of the University of California, Berkeley) will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk on:
Exploding Stars, New Planets, Black Holes, and the Crisis at Lick Observatory
in the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College, in Los Altos. The talk is part of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, now in its 14th year.
Lick Observatory, the first remote mountaintop observatory in the world, has had a remarkable record of discovery spanning 126 years. It continues to be a vibrant research facility, especially for projects that require large numbers of nights on modest-size telescopes. Come hear about the exciting research areas in which Lick remains a world leader, such as the discovery and monitoring of exploding stars (which help us understand our own chemical origins as well as the ultimate fate of the universe); the search for planets orbiting other stars, especially Earth-like planets; and the study of giant black holes in the centers of nearby galaxies.
Lick is used to develop and test new instruments, such as the “adaptive optics” systems that can give telescopes on Earth clarity that matches or exceeds that of the Hubble Space Telescope. Lick is also a primary base for the University of California’s astronomy education and outreach efforts. Yet, despite all this, the UC Office of the President has decided that the university’s funding for Lick will be terminated by 2016−2018, given the financial pressures on UC. This crisis has inspired a group of Silicon Valley and Bay Area leaders to begin a serious search for alternative sources of funding to sustain this vital Bay Area institution. Come find out, from the President of the Lick Observatory Council, what Lick is all about and why we need to keep it going!
Dr. Alex Filippenko, the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at UC Berkeley, is a world-renowned expert on some of the most dramatic fields in astronomy, including exploding stars, black holes, and cosmology. An elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, he was the only person to have been a member of both teams that revealed that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. This discovery, based in part on work done by him at Lick Observatory and elsewhere, was honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to the teams’ leaders. Voted the “Best Professor” on the Berkeley campus a record 9 times, he was also named the 2006 Carnegie/CASE National Professor of the Year at the university level. He has produced 5 astronomy video courses with The Great Courses, coauthored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appears in about 100 TV documentaries. In 2004, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.
Foothill College is just off the El Monte Road exit from Freeway 280 in Los Altos. For directions and parking information, see: http://www.foothill.edu/news/transportation.php For a campus map, see: http://www.foothill.edu/news/maps.php The lecture is co-sponsored by:
- The SETI Institute
- NASA Ames Research Center
- The Foothill College Astronomy Program
- The Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
We expect large crowds, so please arrive a little bit early to find parking. Having exact change or bills for the $3 parking fee helps speed up the line.
Past Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures are now available in MP3 format at: http://astrosociety.org/silicon-valley-astronomy-lectures/
The site gives instant access to over two dozen past lectures, including Steve Beckwith on the Hubble Telescope’s deepest views, Mike Brown on his discovery of worlds beyond Pluto, Natalie Batalha on the Kepler mission planet discoveries, Chris McKay on what it’s like on Saturn’s moon Titan, Sandra Faber on the origin of galaxies, Alex Filippenko and Roger Blandford on black holes, and Seth Shostak on new approaches to finding extra-terrestrial civilizations.