Physics & Astronomy Dept.
The Astrobiology Forum and Maryland Space Grant Observatory will host transit of Venus observing at the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy on the Hopkins Homewood campus, on June 5, 2012.
5 pm – Short talks in the Schafler Auditorium, including one by Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess on the importance of transits in the history of astronomy and cosmology
6 pm to sunset – Observation of transit using Bloomberg’s Maryland Space Grant Observatory telescope (projecting onto paper)
…and using several personal, smaller telescopes set up on the Bloomberg roof
…and using a live feed from Hawaii (projecting in the Schafler Auditorium)
Contact me at richman[at]pha[dot]jhu[dot]edu if you have questions.
If you would like to bring your own telescope, please contact us at least one week before the event so we can make sure it is ok to use. We will have limited space for telescopes on the roof, so please get in touch with us early. See this for directions to the Bloomberg Center: http://physics-astronomy.jhu.edu/dept/directions/index
Our booth, which was in the main atrium of the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy on the Homewood campus, was home to a planet-detection simulator, ancient meteorites, and a model cell. We presented the science of astrobiology as “How to find a planet,” “How to build a planet,” and “How to build life.”
I’m planning an astrobiology booth for the Physics Fair at Johns Hopkins in April, so I’m exploring the outreach-and-education section of the NASA Astrobiology website to find materials. Here are some fantastic things I’ve found.
This lets you see how long ago two evolutionary lines diverged: http://www.timetree.org/
My first test was human vs. wombat (~150 million years ago): http://www.timetree.org/time_query.php?taxon_a=29139&taxon_b=9606
But also interesting is human vs. brewer’s/baker’s/biologist’s yeast (~1300 million years ago!—1.3 billion): http://www.timetree.org/time_query.php?taxon_a=4932&taxon_b=9606
This is an unbelievable historical perspective on our discovery of other planetary systems: http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/timeline/timeline.html
I wish we could bring back some of these guys, like Giordano Bruno, and say “Look, you were right, we found other solar systems!” Really makes me cry. The exoplanet counter does not change from zero until 1992.
Also the Extreme Planet Makeover activity at that PlanetQuest website a good way to get a feel for how physical parameters (star type, distance from star, size of planet) change the nature of the planet (balance of solid, liquid, gas, etc.).
Adventure through a microbial community—goofy but informative: http://microbes.arc.nasa.gov/movie/large-qt.html
Registration for spring 2011 classes just opened up for grad students today. Below is a list of interesting classes related to astrobiology in the Earth & Planetary Science Department:
AS.270.114 “Guided Tour: The Planets” TTh 1:30pm-2:45pm
I believe this class is an intro science course that’s required for undergrads. It’s taught by Bruce Marsh and Darrell Strobel. It’s also completely full, but you might be able to audit it.
AS.270.407 “Seminar in Planetary Sciences” W 12pm-1:20pm
The “Seminar in Planetary Sciences” was offered last spring, and it was an incredible hit. Researchers from APL came in once a week to give a presentation on their current research and the latest discoveries. In fact, not more than a week after it was announced water was discovered on the moon did we learn that OH counts as water.
AS.270.647 “Earth’s Interior” TBD
The “Earth’s Interior” course is a seminar as well. The semester topic changes each time the class is offered. I took it last spring, and the class’s focus was on planetary formation. No tests, but there’s a lot of reading, and every few weeks you have to present on a paper. It’s an excellent seminar taught by the always excellent Peter Olson. If he goes with planetary formation again (if you sign up for the class, definitely email him suggestions about what the seminar should focus on), it’ll beat the pants off anything the physics & astronomy department can offer up.
After these three courses, we’re also offering two climate change courses that may be interesting to some:
AS.270.360 “Climate Change: Science & Policy” MW 1:30pm-2:45pm
AS.270.377 “Climates of the Past” TTh 1:30pm-2:45pm
I haven’t taken either, so I can’t speak to the course content.
UPDATE: One of the members of the astrobiology club email list sent this in.
Biology is also offering a recapitulation of the Planets Life and Universe class. The fall class is a pre-req, but I’m guessing that’s just a suggestiong.
AS.020.716 (01) – Planets, Life, and the Universe Seminar
Based on the course Planets, Life and the Universe in the Fall, this seminar series is for students who would like to read and discuss interesting current papers in the field, including the latest developments that may lead to interesting ideas on interdisciplinary research. Pre-requisites: It is preferable but not required that students will have taken the Fall 2010 course Planets, Life and the Universe (171.333/699 or AS.020.334/616 ). Reading material Papers will be assigned to read each week.