Space Telescope Science Institute
We had over 400 people attend, and fortuitously got a well-timed period of open sky!
Publicity in the Baltimore Sun helped.
Maryland Space Grant Observatory TA Chris Martin using the projection method:
Volunteer Shireen Gonzaga helping guests view through a solar telescope:
Some of the organizers (Veselin, Justin, Scott, Dan) with speaker and Nobelist Adam Riess:
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
This Friday, February 4, 2011, at 12:30pm in John Bahcall Auditorium at the STScI, Dr. Vikki Meadows from University of Washington will give the next Planets, Life, and the Universe Astrobiology Lecture. The title of her talk will be “The Virtual Planetary Laboratory: Modeling Signs of Habitability and Life on Extrasolar Planets.” Here are the details:
In the coming decades, the search for life outside our Solar System will be undertaken using astronomical observations of extrasolar terrestrial planets. To better inform our search, the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory team uses a suite of computer models to explore the interaction between a terrestrial planet and its parent star. The resulting models allow us to simulate extrasolar terrestrial planetary environments and spectra, and to define and quantify likely signs of planetary habitability and life. This talk will discuss the VPL models and results to date, including the detectability of planetary habitability and potential signs of life from alternative biospheres.
Don’t forget that Jim Kasting is presenting tomorrow at 12:30pm as part of the Astrobiology Lecture series at the John Bahcall Auditorium, STScI.
We’ve been given the opportunity to meet with him before his presentation at 10am in STScI room 311. If you’re interested, reply to the list or drop me a line because we need to let Daniel Apai know if there’ll be more than 4 of us.
Here’s one of his papers on arxiv.org: “Exoplanet Characterization and the Search for Life.”
From the Astrobiology Lectures listserv comes this announcement for Friday’s astrobiology lecture at STScI:
Friday, December 10, 2010 at 12:30 p.m. in the John Bahcall Auditorium – STScI (Light lunch provided and discussion at 12:00 p.m., talk at 12:30 p.m.) For more information see http://astrobiology.stsci.edu
Speaker: James Kasting, Penn State University
Title: HOW TO FIND A HABITABLE PLANET
Abstract: Over 400 planets have been found around nearby stars, but none of them is thought to be at all like Earth. The goal now is to identify rocky planets within the habitable zones of their stars and to search their atmospheres spectroscopically for signs of life. To do this, we need new space-based telescopes such as NASA’s proposed Terrestrial Planet Finders or ESA’s Darwin mission (all of which are indefinitely postponed at the moment). If spectra of extrasolar planet atmospheres can be obtained, the presence of O2, which is produced from photosynthesis, or O3, which is produced photochemically from O2, would under most circumstances provide strong evidence for life beyond Earth. But “false positives” for life may also exist, and these need to be clearly delineated in advance of such missions, if at all possible. I will also contrast my optimism about the search for complex life with the more pessimistic view expressed by Ward and Brownlee in their book, Rare Earth.
Webcast & Telecon Information:
We will webcast this talk via streaming video. Please make sure that your computer has RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, or VLC configured. For further information, please visit our website: astrobiology.stsci.edu.
Note that we also provide a telecon access to the talk: we recommend using this phone connection over the audio feed from the streaming video for its higher quality, robustness and possibility for participation in the discussion.
If you plan to connect, please send your phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org at least a day prior to the meeting.
Reminder: Please help keep the Bahcall Auditorium clean. Thank you.
The new semester is upon us and so is our next meeting! Come to Bloomberg 475 tomorrow, tuesday 28th at 6 pm and discuss all the exciting news and olds on what you’ve heard and learned over the summer. Bring papers or just your curiosity. We’ll be also organizing our first “field trip” to Arlington, VA for “Seeking Signs of Life, A Symposium Celebrating 50 Years of Exobiology and Astrobiology at NASA”.
“Will Alien Life Resemble Us (and How Could We Possibly Know)? Astrobiology, Evolution and the Amino Acids”
The first lecture of the semester in the STSci Astrobiology Lecture Series is coming up this Friday! This lecture will be by Stephen Freeland from the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. It’ll be in Bahcall Auditorium at STSCI starting at 12pm on Friday, September 3rd. The lecture is entitled “Will Alien Life Resemble Us (and How Could We Possibly Know)? Astrobiology, Evolution and the Amino Acids.” The abstract:
A fundamental challenge for astrobiology is to establish the relative contributions of chance versus predictability in the origin and evolution of life on our own planet. Thus, for example, all Earth-life creates metabolism from an interacting network of protein molecules that catalyze various biochemical reactions. Furthermore, early during evolution it had arrived at a standard set of 20 amino acid building-blocks with which to build each of these proteins. We now have good reason to think that many of these amino acids are formed in significant quantities throughout the galaxy – but so are many others – so would alien life be like us, and how could we possibly know?
We’ve got another lecture in the STSci Astrobiology Lecture Series coming up tomorrow! This month the lecture will be by Wes Traub from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech. It’ll be in Mudd 100 at 12:30pm tomorrow. The lecture is entitled “Astrobiological Factors in Exoplanet Exploration Strategies.” The abstract:
What is the best strategy for finding signs of life beyond the Solar System? Until recent years this was a purely philosophical question, but today we have the technical ability to search for signs of life on exoplanets around nearby stars, so the question is now a practical one. To start, we ask what kind of signs of life should we be looking for, and where should we be looking? Next we might ask about the methods we could use for such a search, and the kinds of evidence that we expect to obtain. Finally we can ask about the prospects for starting this search in the coming decade.
After the lecture, the Astrobiology Club gets to meet with Traub at 3pm in Mudd 128. Don’t miss out!
The next “Planets, Life, and the Universe” astrobiology lecture is this Friday, May 7th, from 12-2:30pm in Bahcall Auditorium at STSCI. The presenter is L. Drake Deming from the NASA Goddard Center for Astrobiology. Here is the lecture abstract:
The advent of cryogenic space-borne infrared observatories such as the Spitzer Space Telescope has lead to a revolution in the study of extrasolar planets and planetary systems. Already Spitzer has characterized the emergent infrared spectra of close-in giant exoplanets that orbit sun-like stars, using transit and eclipse techniques. Transits offer enormous advantages in characterizing the bulk properties (mass, radius) as well as the atmospheric composition of extrasolar planets. However, the nearest transiting and habitable extrasolar planet almost certainly does not orbit a Sun-like star. It orbits an M-dwarf star, and it could be a scant 10 parsecs distant from us, or even closer. After we find this unusual habitable world, we will characterize it using transit techniques. Already the ground-based MEarth survey has found a hot superEarth (T = 500 Kelvins) orbiting the M-dwarf star Gliese 1214, 10 parsecs from our own Sun. A space-based all-sky survey could extend the MEarth results to habitable-zone planets. When we have found such a world, the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to measure its atmospheric composition, and possibly even search for biosignatures.