Archive for 2008
ASP Appoints New Board Members
December 2008 – The ASP Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of two new Board members: Cathy Langridge, Director of Retail Finance at Levi Strass & Co. in San Francisco, and Michael Gibbs, Vice President for Advancement and Assistant Professor at Capital College in Laurel, Maryland, and former Chief Advancement Officer for the ASP. Langridge and Gibbs will fill the two Board-appointed seats.
Saturn’s Restless Rings: Latest Results from the Cassini Mission
Dr. Mark Showalter (SETI Institute)
Listen (mp3 file, 20.7 MB)
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has entered its fifth year exploring the planet Saturn, its rings, and its moons. Dr. Showalter, a key member of the Cassini science team, shares some of the marvelous results from Saturn and recent discoveries from the mission. His special focus is Saturn’s complex and beautiful ring system (which shows a variety of surprising phenomena, including “jets”, “propellers”, “wisps”, “spokes”, and “braids”) and the remarkable interactions between Saturn’s rings and moons.
The Black Hole Wars: My Battle with Stephen Hawking
Dr. Leonard Susskind (Stanford University)
Listen (mp3 file, 20.2 MB)
Black holes, the collapsed remnants of the largest stars, provide a remarkable laboratory where the frontier concepts of our understanding of nature are tested at their extreme limits. For more than two decades, Professor Susskind and a Dutch colleague have had a running battle with Stephen Hawking about the implications of black hole theory for our understanding of reality — a battle that he has described in his well-reviewed book The Black Hole Wars. In this talk Dr. Susskind tells the story of these wars and explains the ideas that underlie the conflict. What’s at stake is nothing less than our understanding of space, time, matter and information!
ASP Announces New Board Members
September 2008 – The ASP is pleased to announce its newest members to the ASP Board of Directors: Dr. David C. Black, President Emeritus of Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and Visiting Scientist at USRA’s Lunar and Planetary Institute; Dr. William A. Gutsch, Jr., former Chairman of the American-Hayden Planetarium in New York and former President & CEO of the Challenger Center for Space Science; and Judy Kass, the former Senior Project Director for the AAAS’s Public Understanding of Science and Technology Programs.
2007 ASP Year in Review
2007 Year in Review (pdf, 1.9 MB)
Suzanne Gurton Receives AANC Professional Award
August 2008 – Suzanne Gurton, the Education Manager at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), has received the 2008 Professional Award, given each year by the Astronomical Association of Northern California to an astronomer who has done outstanding work in distinguishing and fostering amateur astronomy. More »
The Allen Telescope Array: The Newest Pitchfork for Exploring the Cosmic Haystack
Dr. Jill Tarter (SETI Institute)
Listen (mp3 file, 24.5 MB)
Dr. Tarter is the leader of the main project looking for radio signals from alien civilizations (she was also the model for the character Jodie Foster played in the movie “Contact.”) She updates us on the latest tools and plans in this quest, as digital technologies make possible huge improvements in our search systems. The Allen Telescope Array, being constructed in Northern California, will be the most powerful tool for finding SETI signals ever built. It is an innovative radio telescope assembled from a large number of small dishes, using consumer off-the-shelf technologies whenever possible to minimize costs. In the next decade, this new instrument will enable exploration that is 1000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than in the previous decades. This may just be enough!
Scott Roberts Featured in Sky & Telescope Article
March 2008 – The newest member of the ASP Board of Directors, Scott Roberts, is featured in the April, 2008 Sky & Telescope magazine in an article titled, “A Friend Indeed” written by former ASP Board member David Levy. The article highlights Roberts’ passion for brining astronomy to the public.
New Worlds and Yellowstone: How Common are Habitable Planets?
Dr. Geoff Marcy (University of California, Berkeley)
Listen (mp3 file, 21.1 MB)
Astronomers have now discovered more than 250 planets orbiting other stars. Hear the scientist who has discovered more planets than anyone else in the history of the world discuss what kinds of planets we have found so far, and what a new generation of telescopes might find in the future. Could discoveries of planets that resemble the Earth spark a new era when we could someday begin communication with alien life? Dr. Marcy won the Shaw Prize (one of the highest honors in science) in 2005 and was Discover Magazine’s Space Scientist of the Year. He and his co-workers pioneered the technique for finding planets around other stars without seeing light from the planet (by looking for wiggles in the motion of the star each planet orbits.)
Jim Kaler Awarded 2008 AAS Education Prize
February 2008 – James B. Kaler, a professor emeritus of astronomy at the University of Illinois, has been awarded the American Astronomical Society 2008 Education Prize. The prize recognizes Kaler for his outstanding contributions to the education of the public, students and the next generation of professional astronomers. More »