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Archive for 2007

Scott Roberts Appointed to ASP Board

December, 2007 – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), is pleased to announce the appointment of Scott W. Roberts to a vacant position on the Board of Directors. The ASP, established in 1889, is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of astronomy through scientists, educators, enthusiasts and the public as a vehicle for advancing science literacy and exchange. More »


Andrew Fraknoi Receives 2007 Professor of the Year Award

November, 2007 – Foothill College Astronomy Instructor Andrew Fraknoi, M.A., has been named the 2007 California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement & Support of Education (CASE). Fraknoi was selected from more than 300 top professors in the United States. The 40 national and state winners of the U.S. Professors of the Year Award will be honored at a luncheon and evening reception in Washington, D.C. Nov. 15. More »


New Horizons at Jupiter (and Some Saturn News)

Dr. Jeff MooreNov. 13, 2007

Dr. Jeff Moore (NASA Ames Research Center)

Listen (mp3 file, 17.4 MB)

In February, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft swung by the giant planet Jupiter on its way to Pluto. Its instruments recorded winderful images and other data about Jupiter’s wild weather, its ring, and its giant moons. Dr. Moore, who was Leader of the Imaging Node for the encounter, shows the new photos of the Jupiter system and discusses some of the discoveries made by New Horizons. He also talks about one of the most exciting discoveries of the Cassini mission around Saturn — the new understanding and exploration of water geysers on the moon Enceladus.


Taking a Hit: Asteroid Impacts and Evolution

Dr. David MorrisonOctober 3, 2007

Dr. David Morrison (NASA Ames Research Center)

Listen (mp3 file, 18.9 MB)

Asteroids have hit the Earth many time in the past, and they will continue to hit in the future, whether we are prepared or not. Collisions with our planet over 4.5 billion years have profoundly influenced the evolution of life. (In fact, were it not for the impact of a 15-km wide asteroid 65 million years ago, it is likely humanity would not be here.) Dr. Morrison, one of the world’s experts on the study of asteroid impacts, discusses the past and the future of these catastrophic hits, and explains how, in the last two decades, we have learned (in principle) how to defend ourselves. Unlike other natural hazards, we now have the capability of removing most of the impact risk within the next generation. However, the government still does not have a plan of action for when an asteroid is discovered heading our way or when an impact happens without any warning. (We recommend you listen to this podcast holding hands with someone you love.)


2006 ASP Year in Review

2006 Year in Review (pdf, 1.1 MB)


ASP Announces New Board Members

August, 2007 – ASP is pleased to announce its newest members to the ASP Board of Directors; Edna DeVore, Deputy CEO and the Director of Education and Public Outreach (EPO) at the SETI Institute, Phil Sakimoto an astrophysicist; education, outreach, and diversity specialist; and planetarian with the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Physics and joining them is re-elected board member, Lynne Hillenbrand, an associate professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology.


A Ringside Seat to the Formation of Planets

Dr. Dana BackmanMay 23, 2007

Dr. Dana Backman (SETI Institute and Astronomical Society of the Pacific)

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Astronomers have discovered dusty “doughnuts” of cosmic raw material around many younger stars. In some cases, astronomers can see tantalizing hints in the rings that planets may be forming or may already have formed from this material. Dr. Backman explains how new kinds of telescopes and observations are making it possible for us to detect the birth process of planets around nearby stars. He concludes by previewing future observations of these intriguing dusty rings with upcoming telescopes, particularly the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) Project in which NASA has outfitted a 747 plane with a telescope that can observe heat-rays from distant objects.


2007 ASP Award Recipients Announced

May 15, 2007 – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific announced today the eight winners of its 2007 awards for excellence in astronomy research and education. The ASP’s most prestigious award, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal for lifetime achievement in astronomy has been awarded to Martin Harwit, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, Cornell University.


Comparing Worlds: Climate Catastrophes in the Solar System

Dr. David GrinspoonApril 11, 2007

Dr. David Grinspoon (Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

Listen (mp3 file, 22.3 MB)

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Take an entertaining and enlightening journey with an astronomer and popular author through the history of our solar system, discovering runaway greenhouses and snowball planets. Compare the evolution of Venus, Earth, and Mars over the years. And learn how studying the evolution of other planets can help us understand and predict climate change on Earth.


ASP Announces 2007 Board of Directors

March 28, 2007 – ASP announces new Board of Directors officers for 2007. James Kaler of the University of Illinois is ASP President and joining him as Vice President is Tim Slater of the University of Arizona. ASP Treasurer Eugene Epstein and ASP Secretary Mary Kay Hemenway were both re-elected in their respective positions. More »