American Astronomical Society

Tag: American Astronomical Society

Nationally Recognized Astronomer Discusses the Big Bang, Dark Energy in Two Lawrence University Talks

Christopher Impey, a Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer with the American Astronomical Society, discusses the cosmos in pair of presentations at Lawrence University.

A University Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona and the deputy head of UA’s astronomy department, Impey traces the journey from a small amount of ultra-dense mass and energy into a universe of 50 billion galaxies in “Cosmic Evolution: From Big Bang to Biology,” Monday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 121. Featuring music and video, the presentation will include a dozen amazing facts about the universe.

In his second address, Impey will discuss the mysterious forces of “dark energy,” the most abundant substance in the universe — accounting for 70% of its makeup by some estimates — and how it can be studied by using supernovae as “light bulbs” to trace the universe’s changing rate of expansion. His talk “Probing Dark Energy with Quasars” will be held Tuesday, May 16 at 11:10 a.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 115. Both presentations are free and open to the public.

A member of the UA Steward Observatory and astronomy department since 1986, Impey has written two astronomy textbooks, “The Universe Revealed” in 2000 and “Astronomy: The Cosmic Journey” in 1995. He also has authored more than 160 research papers on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.

Impey served as the associate director of the NASA Arizona Space Grant Program for five years and has had 21 projects approved with the Hubble Space Telescope. In 2002, he was recognized by the National Science Foundation with its Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, the organization’s highest honor for excellence in both teaching and research.

In addition, he has been the recipient of 10 UA teaching awards and grants and was the youngest faculty member there to be named University Distinguished Professor, the university’s highest teaching honor.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of London and holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Edinburgh.

Astronomical Society President Discusses Solar System Origins in Lawrence Science Hall Colloquium

Catherine Pilachowski, president of the American Astronomical Society (ASA), discusses the latest research on the origins of our solar system and the Milky Way in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Pilachowski, the Daniel Kirkwood Professor of Astronomy at Indiana University, presents “Giant Telescopes, Heavy Metal and Ancient Superstars” Thursday, May 13 at 8 p.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 121. The event is free and open to the public.

With the aid of giant telescopes and high-resolution spectroscopy, Pilachowski studies changes in the chemical composition of stars and star clusters. Those changes provide scientists with a glimpse to the evolution of the first stars that formed from primordial hydrogen and helium at the birth of the universe some 10 billion years ago. Pilachowski will discuss the chemical elements present in the Milky Way galaxy today and the clues they provide on the origins of our own solar system, which was created from the debris of both ancient and modern supernovas.

A member of the scientific staff of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz., for more than 20 years, Pilachowski joined the faculty of Indiana University in 2001 as the first recipient of the Kirkwood chair in astronomy. A specialist in the chemical composition of stars, she also conducts research on light pollution, astronomical instrumentation and large telescope design. She earned her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Hawaii.

Pilachowski’s appearance is supported by the ASA’s Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureships in Astronomy, which provides scholars and professional astronomers to colleges and universities for public lectures and classroom instruction.