Archive for the ‘Space’ Category

Supermoon

supermoonIf you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. — Carl Sagan

Supermoons, most of us can’t detect the difference between a supermoon and a regular full moon, using just our eyes. Finely tuned instruments or composite images do show that a supermoon is indeed closer to Earth and thus bigger than an ordinary full moon. Therefore, if we can’t see that a supermoon actually appears larger in the sky, we notice the increased brightness of the supermoon.
Supermoons bring the highest and lowest tides, they follow the date of full moon by a day or two.

The supermoon event happens Sunday November 13 and Monday the 14th.
The best time to observe the supermoon is when the moon is near the horizon during either moonrise or moonset; allegedly, Monday is best. …
Sunday Evening, Nov. 13 –  Moonrise – 4:52pm
Monday Morning, Nov. 14 – Moonset – 5:32am
Monday Evening, Nov. 14 – Moonrise – 5:40pm
Tuesday Morning, Nov. 15 – Moonset – 7:56am

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. — Douglas Adams

Finding a New Earth

Wednesday, May 11, Stephen Kane, Ph.D., will discuss Finding a New Earth: Exoplanets and the Habitable Zone, an illustrated, non-technical lecture in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.

A key to finding a new Earth will be to identify rocky planets that occupy the Habitable Zone of their stars.

Dr. Kane has been researching planets around other stars for more than 20 years and has discovered and characterized hundreds of exoplanets.

Dr. Kane is professor of astrophysics at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He is also the chairman of the Kepler Mission Habitable Zone Working Group and the director of the SFSU Planetary Research Laboratory.

The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking on campus and exact change is appreciated.

Smithwick Theater at Foothill College
12345 S El Monte Ave, Los Altos, 94022
May 11, 2016
7:00 p.m.

Admission: Free
Parking $3.00

The Latest from New Horizons at Pluto

New Horizons spacecraftWednesday, March 2, 2016, at 7:00 pm, Dr. Jeff Moore (Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center) will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk on: Report from the Planetary Frontier: The Latest from New Horizons at Pluto in the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College.

On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft flew above the surface of Pluto and sent back images of the planet and its largest moon Charon.

Dr. Moore will show the latest photos and fill us in on the current thinking among the New Horizons team members about Pluto and its five moons.

The lecture is free, but there is a charge of $3 for parking on campus and exact change is appreciated.

Smithwick Theater at Foothill College
12345 S El Monte Ave, Los Altos, 94022

Admission: Free
Parking $3.00

Einstein’s Blunder Undone: The Runaway Universe

Albert_EinsteinHarvard University astronomer Robert Kirshner, Ph.D., will
discuss Einstein’s Blunder Undone: The Runaway Universe, an illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College. Admission is free; however, seating is first come, first served.

Einstein invented a new theory of gravity called “General Relativity” and applied it to the study of the universe as a whole. He introduced the Cosmological Constant, a factor that would guarantee the entire universe itself was static—neither expanding nor collapsing. Astronomers showed the universe was not static at all, but expanding, and Einstein banished his constant, even calling it his greatest blunder.

Dr. Kirshner will show the methods used to discover the cosmic acceleration and present the evidence that we live in a universe that is only 4 percent matter like the atoms of the periodic table, with the balance divided between dark energy, speeding up the universe, and equally mysterious dark matter, drawing things together.

Dr. Kirshner has been a leader in the use of supernova explosions to chart the expansion history (including the acceleration) of the universe. He is the author of The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept credit/debit cards, as well as one-dollar bills. Campus Map (PDF).

Smithwick Theatre
Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, 94022
(650) 949-7888

November 11, 2015
7:00 p.m.

Admission: free
Parking: $3.00

Encountering the First Dwarf Planet

Dawn_space_probe
Marc Rayman, Ph.D., the mission director for NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft, will discuss Encountering the First Dwarf Planet: The Dawn Mission to Ceres, a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

The Dawn Spacecraft is now in orbit around Ceres —the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt and also the first dwarf planet to be discovered. Ceres was discovered January 1,1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi of Italy. As big across as Texas, Ceres’ nearly spherical body has a differentiated interior – denser material at the core and lighter minerals near the surface.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Dawn mission. It is the first NASA exploratory mission to use ion propulsion, which enabled it to enter and leave the orbit of multiple celestial bodies.
Ion propulsion is a technology that involves ionizing a gas to propel a craft. The gas xenon is given an electrical charge, or ionized. It is then electrically accelerated to a speed of about 30 km/second. When xenon ions are emitted at such high speed as exhaust from a spacecraft, they push the spacecraft in the opposite direction.

Dr. Rayman is both mission director and chief engineer for Dawn. He has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1986, designing instruments for space telescopes, Mars measurements, the search for planets around other stars and laser communications with spacecraft.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
(650) 949-7888

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
7:00 pm

Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Finding Asteroids Headed for Earth

Asteroid02Wednesday, March 4, former NASA Astronaut Edward Tsang “Ed” Lu, Ph.D. will discuss The Sentinel Mission: Finding the Asteroid Headed for Earth, an illustrated, non-technical lecture at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Asteroids are the only natural disaster for which we have a technological solution. There are an estimated one million in our inner solar system, and the vast majority of the threatening ones are still undiscovered. In this non-technical talk, Dr. Lu will describe the threat, and discuss the Sentinel Mission, an orbiting telescope designed to detect and track asteroids that cross Earth’s orbit.

In 2013 an asteroid just 60 feet across exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia sending more than 1,700 people to seek medical attention, damaged more than 7,200 buildings and cost the city more than $33 million dollars in property damage.

As a NASA Astronaut, Ed Lu has flown three missions logging 206 days in space, to construct and live aboard the International Space Station. A graduate of Cornell, Dr. Lu earned a Ph.D. from Stanford.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
7:00 pm
Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

Monster Black Holes

Astronomer Chung-Pei Ma, PhD, of UC Berkeley, will discuss Monster Black Holes: What Lurks at the Centers of Galaxies, a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. The public is invited. Seating is first come, first served.

Black holes can grow to monstrous size, swallowing the mass of millions or billions of suns. Dr. Ma will describe recent discoveries of record-breaking black holes, each with a mass of 10 billion times the mass of the Sun. New evidence shows that these objects could be the dormant remnants of powerful “quasars” that existed in the young universe.

A cosmologist and astrophysicist, Dr. Ma’s research interests include the origin and large-scale structure of the universe, the formation and development of galaxies, and the growth of giant black holes. Her specialty areas include: theoretical cosmology; dark matter and energy; galaxy and structure formation; black holes; gravitational lensing; cosmic microwave background.


Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills 94022
(650) 949-7888

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
7:00 pm

Admission: free
Parking: $3.00

Highlights from the Spitzer Space Telescope

Astronomer Michael Bicay, Ph.D., of the NASA Ames Research Center, will discuss Lifting the Cosmic Veil: A Decade of Highlights from the Spitzer Space Telescope, an illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, April 16, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.
Admission is free and the public is invited.

The Universe is continually radiating information to Earth, sending signals in wide-spectrum of light. However, not all of these messages reach the ground. Because our planet’s atmosphere blocks most radiation coming in from space.

The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003 to study the cool universe with waves that are invisible to the human eye. It was designed to probe the birth and youth of stars and planetary disks, and to observe some of the most distant objects in the universe.

However, Spitzer’s mission has since changed—the study of planets orbiting other stars. Dr. Bicay will describe the long road leading to Spitzer’s launch, and present highlights from the mission’s remarkable first decade of discovery.

The planned mission period was to be 2 and a half years with a pre-launch expectation that the mission could extend to five or slightly more years until the onboard liquid helium supply was exhausted in 2009. Without liquid helium to cool the telescope to the very low temperatures needed to operate, most of the instruments are no longer usable. However, the two shortest-wavelength modules of the Infrared Array Camera are still operable with the same sensitivity as before the cryogen was exhausted, and will continue to be used in the Spitzer Warm Mission.

Spitzer has been put to work studying exoplanets (planets outside the Solar System) by modifying its hardware. This included doubling its stability by modifying its heating cycle, finding a new use for the camera, and analyzing the sensor at a sub-pixel level. In its “warm” mission, the spacecraft’s passive cooling system keeps the sensors at minus 407 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dr. Bicay is the director of science at the NASA Ames Research Center, leading more than 400 scientists and technical staff conducting research in space, earth and biological science. He holds a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University and his research interests include the properties and contents of galaxies and galaxy clusters, as well as the large-scale structure in the universe.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos, California 94022

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
7:00 pm

Admission: Free

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3.00 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Exploding Stars, Black Holes & Lick Observatory

Astronomer Alex Filippenko, Ph.D., of UC Berkeley, will discuss Exploding Stars, New Planets, Black Holes and the Crisis at Lick Observatory, an illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Dr. Filippenko, 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. Voted the “Best Professor” on the Berkeley campus a record nine times.

The first remote mountaintop observatory in the world, Lick Observatory has a remarkable record of discovery spanning 126 years. Lick remains a world leader, such as the discovery and monitoring of exploding stars; the search for planets orbiting other stars, especially Earth-like planets; and the study of giant black holes in the centers of nearby galaxies.

Located on the summit of 4,200′ Mt. Hamilton in the Diablo Range east of San Jose, 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.

Dr. Filippenko was involved in the development of a 0.8-meter robotic telescope at Lick Observatory (KAIT, the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope) that obtains data automatically, every clear night. With KAIT, they have found over 300 supernovae in the past five years.

The UC Berkeley 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 Bay Area institution. The lecture includes what Lick is all about and why we need to keep it going.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
7:00 pm

Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

(650) 949-7888

Black Widow Stars That Consume & Destroy Their Partners

Astronomer Roger Romani, Ph.D., of Stanford University, will discuss Black Widow Stars That Consume and Destroy Their Partners, an illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, January 22, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dr. Romani is an astrophysicist interested in neutron stars, black holes and other relativistic, high energy sources —where density, gravitational field and, often, magnetic field reach their maximum measured values.

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has revealed a violent high-energy universe full of stellar explosions, black hole jets, and pulsing stars. Dr. Romani will describe the quest to discover the true nature of the most puzzling of these gamma-ray sources. Several turn out to be a star corpse called a ‘black widow’ pulsar.  When a massive star dies, it leaves a collapsed remnant called a neutron star. When a star corpse has a companion star, it can be reanimated by material from the companion.  The revived corpse then begins to vaporize its mate.

The lecture is free; however, there is a charge of $3 for parking and exact change is appreciated.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road
Los Altos Hills 94022
(650) 949-7888

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014
7:00–8:30 p.m.

Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

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