University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

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Winter/Spring 2015 Shows

AstroBreaks are free planetarium shows from 12:15-12:45 p.m. on select Wednesdays. All are welcome!

Each program includes a description of the night sky and some of its treasures, along with exploration of a special astronomical topic.

January 14: Winter Constellations
Lecturer: Jean Creighton
Learn more about the myths surrounding the Winter Constellations and find out more about the astronomical objects that are visible in the winter such as the Pleiades and the Beehive cluster.

January 21: Life of a star
Lecturer: Jean Creighton
Learn about how stars are born, become adults, and eventually leave exotic remains such as black holes

January 28: Supernovae
Lecturer: Postdoctoral researcher Laura Nuttall
At the end of a massive star's life it will go out with an almighty bang called a supernova.  This stellar explosion briefly outshines an entire galaxy as material is flung out in to space, perhaps giving rise to a brand new star.  During this AstroBreak, we will discuss the path which leads a star to this fate, and explore these exotic explosions!

February 4: Einstein@Home
Lecturer: Postdoctoral researcher Sinead Walsh
Hunting for objects scattered across the universe requires a lot of computing power.  Find out how you can help in the search for neutron stars with Einstein@Home.

February 11: Cupid's Constellations
Lecturer: Jean Creighton
All are welcome for stargazing in the beautiful warmth of the planetarium dome.

February 18: Binary Systems
Lecturer: Graduate student Daniel Mashburn
As a binary system evolves, the pair of stars begins to exchange material; the marriage of each system begins to unravel.  The process of Roche Lobe overflow and Black Body radiation play pivotal roles in determining the ultimate fates of stellar mates.  Telescopic methods are numerous, and dependent on the source and the observer.  Radio dishes and arrays collect low frequency light from neutron stars, while X-ray satellites detect distant Super Novae.

February 25: The Science of Interstellar
Lecturer: Distinguished Professor John Friedman

Dive into the science behind the movie Interstellar that was just released. 

March 4: Distant Galaxies
Lecturer: Postdoctoral Researcher Danielle Berg
Understanding the detailed formation and evolution of the galaxies we observe today remains one of the great challenges of modern cosmology. Ultimately, we strive to tell that story from beginning to end.  Astronomers use extremely deep exposures and a sort of cosmic magnification glass to detect distant galaxies and peer into the history of the Universe. Observing one of these rare treasures is akin to finding early human fossils: by understanding where we come from, we can assemble the story of how we got here.

March 11: Open and Globular Clusters
Lecturer: Postdoctoral Researcher Megan DeCesar
Globular clusters are dense groups of stars, in which all the stars formed at about the same time.  They are the oldest objects in our galaxy, and therefore they tell us the minimum age that the universe can be.  Although these clusters are very old, they are very exciting places -- they contain many neutron stars and possibly black holes, and some of their stars actually collide with one another!  In this talk, I'll tell you about globular clusters and some of the interesting events that take place inside them.

March 25: Black Holes
Lecturer: Graduate student Alex Urban
Imagine for a moment that you're Alice, tumbling down a never-ending rabbit hole into a topsy-turvy world that just doesn't make any sense.  What would you think?  How would you try to understand it?  Turns out, such fantastic wonderlands of gravity gone haywire are very, very real -- and we'll be visiting one in this AstroBreak.  Have you done five impossible things today?  Why not round it off with a lunchtime trip into the inescapable grasp of a black hole, and see how far the rabbit hole really goes...

April 1: Supermassive Black Holes
Lecturer: Graduate student Hong Qi
Imagine traveling to the center of our Milky Way galaxy, about 26,000 light years away, finding a vantage point and gazing into the sky, what monster would you see?  This monster, the largest object in our galaxy, is called a supermassive black hole.  Nothing can escape from it, not even light.  Our galaxy has one, other galaxies may have a few.  How did they get there?  What secrets can we learn about our universe on a journey to a supermassive black hole?

April 8: Galaxy Formation
Lecturer: Graduate student Joseph Simon
Our Milky Way is so beautiful to behold.  Find out how galaxies form and evolve.

April 15: Constellations of the Zodiac
Lecturer: Jean Creighton
Learn some of the stories associated with Leo and Virgo; enjoy the spring constellations projected on our dome.

April 22: Higgs Boson
Lecturer: Postdoctoral Researcher Laleh Sadeghian
On 4 July 2012, scientists at CERN announced that they found a particle that behaved the way they expect the Higgs Boson to behave and on 8 October 2013 the Nobel prize in physics was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter Higgs for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of particles which was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle namely the Higgs Boson. What is the Higgs Boson? Find out why its discovery was such a big deal.

April 29: History of the elements
Lecturer: Associate Professor David Kaplan
Krypton?  Platinum?  Manganese?  Where did all of the elements come from?  Find out what we mean when we say we are made of starstuff. 

May 6: Glorious Galaxies
Lecturer: Jean Creighton
There are many types of galaxies in our universe; they can be some of the most gorgeous objects to see.  We will see some of the most famous galaxies and learn about what happens when they collide.

May 13: The Power of Light in Space and on Earth
Lecturer: Professor Dr. Janis T. Eells
NASA partnered with the Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics at UW-Madison and Quantum Devices, a small company in Barneveld, Wisconsin in the 1980s to develop blue and red light emitting diode arrays (LEDs).  These arrays were initially used in plant growth experiments aboard the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.  During these experiments, astronauts conducting the plant growth experiments observed that not only did the plants grow, but also, small cuts and scratches on their hands healed much faster than those of other astronauts on the mission. This observation, inspired additional studies of the applications of far-red to near-infrared LED arrays in areas ranging from wound healing to cancer therapy and traumatic brain injury.  The journey from plant growth studies in space to the healing of minds and bodies on earth will be discussed in this presentation.    

Archive of past Astrobreaks.