Archive for 2009
Life at the Edge: Life in Extreme Environments on Earth and the Search for Life in the Universe
Dr. Lynn Rothschild (NASA Ames Research Center)
Listen (mp3 file, 20.6 MB)
Astrobiologist Lynn Rothschild has gone from the Bolivian Andes to the Rift Valley of Kenya searching for the hardiest of organisms in the most extreme environments for life. By getting to know life forms on Earth that can occupy the most hostile niches, we can begin to understand the survival requirements for life in general. She describes her quest for “life at the edge” and how such discoveries will shape our search for life in the Solar System and beyond.
Hubble Breakthrough: The First Photos of a Planet Orbiting Another Star
Dr. Paul Kalas (University of California, Berkeley)
Listen (mp3 file, 15.4 MB)
Paul Kalas was the leader of the team who managed the long-sought feat of actually taking a photograph of a planet orbiting another star. Before this, all the planets outside our solar system were found by indirect means. He describes how they achieved the breakthrough, using the Hubble Space Telescope, and discusses the wide range of planets out there that astronomers are discovering.
2008 ASP Annual Report
2008 Annual Report (pdf, 3.4 MB)
2009 Bok Award Recipients Announced
July 2009 – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) presented Priscilla and Bart Bok Awards to two high School Seniors at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held May 10 to 15 in Reno this year. More »
2009 ASP Award Recipients Announced
June 2009 – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) announces the winners of its 2009 awards for excellence in astronomy research and education. Full Press Release.
2009 Bruce Medal Recipient Announced
May 2009 – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific announces that Dr. Frank H. Shu has been awarded the 2009 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal for lifetime achievement in astronomy. More »
The Dark Side of the Universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy
Dr. Patricia Burchat (Stanford University)
Listen (mp3 file, 19.4 MB)
In the last decade or so, astronomers have been forced to accept two mysterious observations. About a quarter of the universe is made of “dark matter,” which attracts things with its gravity, but is otherwise invisible. And roughly two-thirds of the universe is composed of “dark energy,” which causes space itself to expand at an ever-increasing rate. That means only a small fraction of the universe is made of ordinary matter — the stuff we understand! In this non-technical presentation, Dr. Burchat explores the evidence for the dark side of the cosmos, and the experiments that are being developed to investigate it further.
Planetary Protection and Hitchhikers in the Solar System: The Danger of Mingling Microbes
Dr. Margaret Race (SETI Institute)
Listen (mp3 file, 20.2 MB)
Scientists searching for life elsewhere have to worry about avoiding harmful cross contamination during the exploration of planets and their moons. We don’t want to take Earth microbes to Mars or bring back alien microbes to Earth. In this timely talk, Dr. Race gives a behind-the-scenes view of “environmental management” planning for solar system missions, and explains the role of the Outer Space Treaty and other related national and international policies in planning our hunt for life-forms out there.
Andrew Fraknoi Recipient of 2009 Hayward Award
March 2009 – Former ASP Executive Officer and Foothill College Astronomy Instructor Andrew Fraknoi is one of four community colleges teachers to be named recipient of the 2009 Hayward Award for Excellence in Education by the California Community College Board of Governors. The four faculty members were selected from across the state for their commitment to professional excellence in their fields as well as their contributions to their community. More »
The Dawn of Creation: The First Two Billion Years
Dr. Stephen Beckwith (University of California)
Listen (mp3 file, 26.4 MB)
All the great islands of stars got their start in the first billion years after the beginning of time, the Big Bang. Every deep picture of the sky reveals thousands of these galaxies, each made up of billions of stars like the Sun. Modern instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope have made it possible to look back to a time when the universe looked very different that it does today. Dr. Beckwith discusses some of the deepest images of the universe ever taken and shares recent discoveries about the early days of the cosmos.