Events

Upcoming:

August 13, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — SoVerA Monthly Meeting – LIGO and Gravitational Wave Astronomy: What is it, how does it work, what does it do, and why does it matter?

Gravity_waves_stillimage
Image Credit: LIGO/T. Pyle https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/image/ligo20160615f

Physics so far describes only two fundamental forces that function at distances larger than the width of an atomic nucleus.  They are electromagnetism (light) and gravity. Throughout the entirety of human history, we have relied exclusively on light to observe and study the universe outside our solar system.  We have come far but have found opaque barriers that light cannot penetrate and objects that don’t emit or interact with light in the first place which are literally “invisible” to us.

In 2015, using the principles of a scientific instrument and experiment first performed in 1887, a masterpiece of engineering capable of unprecedented sensitivity called LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) announced the first successful detection of a gravitational wave and thus began a new chapter of astronomy utilizing a second fundamental force.  As this technology develops, we will increasingly be able to “see” where light cannot take us and find more answers to some of our biggest questions.

The Southern Vermont Astronomy group will be hosting a presentation by Erik Schmitt on LIGO, how it works, what it has done so far, and what it might lead to in the future.  As always, there will be significant discussion and Q&A throughout and after the presentation. This event is enthusiastically open to the public and any level of experience is welcome.

Star Party Central

Members, please monitor your SoVerA Chat List messages for late determinations (see mailing lists). Typically, if weather is looking good a note will be posted the day before of percentage likelihood that we’ll observe as well as description of location, followed on the day of observing with a confirmation either way at ~4PM.

Past:

July 25, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — SoVerA Film and Discussion Night – Black Holes are Relatively Weird

https://images-assets.nasa.gov/image/GSFC_20171208_Archive_e000984/GSFC_20171208_Archive_e000984~small.jpg

Image Credit: NASA

We are going to put a handful of seemingly straightforward scenarios into the vicinity of a black hole to practice wrapping our minds around some of the most unintuitive and extreme principles and predictions of Einstein’s theories of relativity.  We will delve not only into relativistic time dilation (where time “slows” down) but into how it is that different observers in the same objective reality will disagree about the order in which events occur and even whether events even happen at all!  No physics or mathematics background is necessary, only curiosity and a willingness to be causally connected to thought-provoking discussion.

July 9, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — SoVerA Monthly Meeting – Brief History of The Moon

https://images-assets.nasa.gov/image/PIA00130/PIA00130~small.jpg

Image Credit: NASA

We all see it. We all know it. We all take it for granted, other than as a pleasant, romantic, reflective backdrop. But…what is it? How did it come into being?

More focus is on it now because we humans finally interacted with it, physically, some 50 years ago.

The Moon.

Rick Bates and Claudio Veliz will provide a “Brief History of the Moon” at 7pm, Tuesday, the 9th of July at the Southern Vermont Astronomy Group’s monthly meeting, at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT.

They will describe the current theories about how the moon came to be, how much bigger it looked shortly after its formation, as well as some very fun bits about its history in our culture and some of our notions about how we interact with it! Graphic – and humor – heavy; this presentation is open to all.

June 11, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — SoVerA Monthly Meeting

Robyn Millan, PhD

New Space: Breakthrough Innovations for Space Science

The Southern Vermont Astronomy Group is excited to host Dr. Robyn Millan, Dartmouth College faculty, for our June monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 11th, at 7:00 pm at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT.  Her presentation will discuss how her research group uses old methods in new ways and also takes advantage of new technologies to advance science.

Balloons have been an important platform for scientific measurements dating back to the late 18th century when Jeffries and Blanchard flew their instruments across the English Channel. Dr. Millan’s group looks for ways to adapt balloon technologies in order to study the space environment around Earth.  Over the past few years, their flotillas of small balloons have carried instrumentation around Antarctica to make multi-point measurements of radiation belt particles as they enter Earth’s atmosphere from space. This year, they are flying their instrument on a new kind of balloon that enables ultra-long duration flights, lasting months.

We are also in the midst of a small satellite revolution.  The development of small spacecraft in the commercial sector is moving at a rapid pace. Companies (e.g., One Web, SpaceX Starlink, etc.) are launching small satellites to create mega-constellations of hundreds to thousands of satellites for Earth observation and the internet in space. Dr. Millan is interested in finding ways to leverage these developments for science and will talk about the current CubeSat project and ideas for future scientific missions that use satellite constellations.

Dr. Millan has undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from U. C. Berkeley (1995) and a Ph.D. in Physics from U. C. Berkeley (2002). She has been on the faculty at Dartmouth College since 2005 and is the Principal Investigator for BARREL (Balloon Array for Radiation Belt Relativistic Electron Losses).

SoVerA is an organization composed of amateur and professional astronomers, educators, students, and lots of members of the lay public. SoVerA is dedicated to making astronomy much more accessible to all. Talks and presentations are free and open to the public.  This venue is ADA accessible.

May 23, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — SoVerA Movie Night

Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, and Christopher Lloyd star in this action-packed 1984 sci-fi adventure where Dr. Banzai fights to, what else, save the Earth from alien (and mad-scientist) destruction!  A classic tale of good versus evil in multiple dimensions – a must see for every classic sci-fi enthusiast!

May 14, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — SoVerA Monthly Meeting

Black Holes

https://images-assets.nasa.gov/image/behemoth-black-hole-found-in-an-unlikely-place_26209716511_o/behemoth-black-hole-found-in-an-unlikely-place_26209716511_o~small.jpg

Image Credit: NASA

We will start with a brief review of the discoveries which led to the idea that there might be black holes to provide the historical background for our main event of the evening. We will then explore how black holes come into being from the cores of massive stars and what they do to matter that gets too close to them. Special emphasis will be on the Event Horizon Telescope, which is as big as Earth, and the recently announced, first-ever image researchers captured of the black hole located in the nucleus of the galaxy M87. The presentation will be family-friendly and geared for general audiences.

Join SoVerA on Tuesday, May 14th, at 7:00 pm at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT for this presentation from Rick Bates and Claudio Veliz.

SoVerA is an organization composed of amateur and professional astronomers, educators, students, and lots of members of the lay public. SoVerA is dedicated to making astronomy much more accessible to all. Talks and presentations are free and open to the public.  This venue is ADA accessible.

April 25, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — SoVerA Film Night

Discussing Dark Matter

For this month’s SoVerA movie/discussion night we will be following up our dark energy video series with an evening on dark matter.  We will begin with a short video primer about what dark matter is and why consensus prefers the dark matter hypothesis rather than modifying gravity to explain why galaxies spin faster than they should based on their visible mass.  We will then screen a panel discussion of astronomers, cosmologists, and physicists hosted by the World Science Festival intended for the public on the search for dark matter.

As always, discussion and Q&A will take place during and after the videos.  

April 9, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — TESS and the Nearby Search for Life

Are we about to encounter life beyond Earth, finally, and for real? There is a survey mission now underway to carefully seek planets orbiting our closest stellar neighbors. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is now in progress, scrutinizing 85% of the celestial sphere in that effort.

In this graphic-rich presentation, including images from the Hubble Space Telescope and other sources, we’ll cover how the TESS mission is doing, what “exoplanets” are, what we know so far, and the methods we use to find them. We will talk about how we might determine the existence of alien life and which of these orbs may be considered, seriously, as future homes for our own descendants.

We will also cover ways audience members can become involved in exoplanet search projects.

March 28, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — Movie Night!

Mel Brooks in SPACE!  A far away planet has squandered their atmosphere and developed a device to steal air from another planet.  Luckily, a lone ranger (totally not Han Solo) and his sidekick (totally not Chewbacca) are motivated by money to save the day!

May the Schwartz be with you.

March 12, 2019 7:00 PM at the Whiting Library in Chester, VT — What is NEAF?

The Northeast Astronomy Forum is one of the world’s largest astronomy and space expositions, located just a few hours drive away in Suffern, NY.  This year, NEAF will be held on April 6 and 7. This weekend event features world class speakers and over 120 vendors of telescopes, accessories, and just about anything you can think of that is astronomy or space-related.

If you decide to attend, you will have the opportunity to see demonstrations of some of the latest equipment and speak with knowledgeable company representatives.  There is no better place to see, hold, and compare products you normally only get to see in pictures. Presentations from world-renowned speakers, kids’ activities, and solar observing are just a few of the various attractions.