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Galaxy Messier 81, as seen through the CSM Observatory's telescopes

Featured speakers will talk about the latest developments in astronomy, space exploration, and astronomical techniques. Click on a speaker name to jump to a detailed description.

For information on times and places to see these speakers, see the Schedule page.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Imke de Pater – U.C. Berkeley

Imke de Pater

Dusty Rings in our Solar System: One Ring Two Ring, Red Ring Blue Ring

The four giant planets are surrounded by ring systems, which all look different and have unique signatures. In addition to cm-to-meters sized `rocks', all systems reveal dust in various amounts. In fact, Jupiter's ring system is composed primarily of dust. We have observed this dust in all four ring systems with the Keck telescope at infrared wavelengths. Our findings on the uranian ring system are particularly spectacular. Moreover, Uranus will go through equinox in December, and the rings will be `edge-on' in the summer-winter of 2007. For these reasons I will focus the talk on Uranus, and concentrate on findings from Jupiter's rings and Saturn's dusty outer ring system as they relate to the uranian system. The Uranus observations are obtained using adaptive optics techniques, most of Saturn and Jupiter via conventional infrared observations during ring plane crossing time.

Imke de Pater, our keynote speaker, is a Professor in the departments of Astronomy and of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California at Berkeley. She started her career observing and modeling Jupiter's synchrotron radiation, followed by detailed investigations of the planet's thermal radio emission. In 1994 she led a world-wide campaign observing the impact of comet D/Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter. Currently, she is exploiting adaptive Optics techniques in the infrared range to obtain high angular resolution data of e.g. volcanic activity on Io, weather on Titan, planetary rings, and Jupiter's new Red Oval. She used the Hubble Space Telescope to study weather on jupiter (in particular the Red Oval BA), and to complement AO observations of planetary rings with visible wavelength data. She wrote a book together with Jack Lissauer about "Planetary Sciences", which is the graduate level textbook in this field.

Visit her website at: http://astro.berkeley.edu/~imke/

Jane Houston Jones – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Imke de Pater

The Cassini Mission to Saturn

The Cassini Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan has just completed year three of its four year prime mission. Join Cassini Outreach's Jane Houston Jones for a recap of the top science results from this year, a review of the past, and a look into the future, including what targets are in planning for the (expected) extended mission. Jane will also talk a little about her Cassini Outreach Programs for informal educators, and play the latest "What's Up" podcast.

Jane Houston Jones served 5 years as president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California before accepting a job as Senior Outreach Specialist for the Cassini Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and relocating to Pasadena, CA in 2003. Jane coordinates 350 international amateur astronomers from 50 countries who do public outreach for the Cassini Mission's Saturn Observation Campaign and also hosts JPL's monthly “What's Up” amateur astronomy podcasts.

Dr. Pamela Gay – AstronomyCast.com and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Pamela Gay

What’s New in Astronomy (live video/audio feed)

Pamela Gay is an astronomer at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She was a cofounder of Slacker Astronomy, one of the earliest astronomy podcasts. She now produces a weekly podcast, AstronomyCast, together with Fraser Cain of the UniverseToday.com web site. You can listen to her podcast at AstronomyCast.com.

Jeffrey Adkins – Deer Valley High School Physics and Astronomy

Jeffrey Adkins

Future Astronomers Strut Their Stuff

What’s the best way for students to understand science and astronomy? By DOING it!

Jeff Adkins, 2007 Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence recipient, will accompany a few of his students from Deer Valley High School’s Earth, Space and Astronomy Center for Education (ESPACE) to report on their astronomy research projects from this school year.

Jeff is a physics and astronomy teacher at Deer Valley High School. ESPACE was originally funded by the California Department of Education. Using grant funds, Jeff and his students have constructed a school planetarium, set up a mini-exhibit hall of all the past students’ science fair projects, competed in local, state, and national science fairs, and won several awards.

His students have used remote control telescopes, telescopes at major observatories, and space probes to complete projects on everything from active galactic nuclei to the growth of moss on the north side of trees.

Christopher Go – Astrophotographer

Christopher Go Jupiter, shot by Christopher Go

Tips and Secrets of High Resolution Planetary Imaging

Learn secrets on how to improve your planetary images from image acquisition to processing.

Christopher Go has been an amateur astronomer since 1986 and an astrophotographer since 1990. He resides on the island of Cebu, Philippines. Chris started out during the last apparition of Halley's Comet while in High School, used 10X40 binoculars for observation. In 1988, with a few friends, organized the University of San Carlos Astronomical Society, went to Davao City to view his first total solar eclipse, also observing the Mars Opposition that year. In 1990, he purchased his first telescope, a Meade 2080LX5 Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope. Moving up the ranks of various telescopes and getting married to his wife Vicky, he started planetary imaging.

On February 24, 2006, Chris states: “I made the biggest discovery of my life! I discovered that the white spot Oval BA of Jupiter has turned RED! The Oval BA is now called Red Spot Jr or Red Jr. I have also a member of the team headed by Dr Imke de Pater and Dr Phil Marcus that used the Hubble Space Telescope to image Red Jr on April 2006, March and May! On July 2006, our team use the W.M. Keck Observatory, currently the largest telescope in the world to image the conjunction of the Oval BA and the Great Red Spot (GRS). I also processed the Jupiter image of the Gemini Observatory. On September 2006, I was accepted as a member of the American Astronomical Society and it's Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS). On Oct 2006, I attended the DPS2006 meeting at Pasadena, California. I had a poster presentation during this meeting on the Evolution of Oval BA from 2004-2006.” Visit his website at http://jupiter.cstoneind.com.

Richard Crisp – Astrophotographer

Richard Crisp

Two New Astronomical Imaging Techniques

Richard Crisp has been actively promoting emission line imaging of nebulae for amateur astrophotographers for the past six years. He has published articles and images in publications including Sky and Telescope and other periodicals, both foreign and domestic, as well as a definitive work on star formation “From Dust To Stars” by Dr. Norbert Shulz of MIT. Since January of 2007, Richard has been actively developing methods for polarigraphic imaging by amateurs. He recently published an article in the Fall 2007 issue of Amateur Astronomy entitled “Color Astronomical Imaging Using Polarizing Filters”.

Richard's talk will be focused on these two very different imaging methods that he has pioneered and popularized in the world of amateur astrophotography.

Visit his website at www.narrowbandimaging.com.

Vivian White – Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Vivian White

Night Sky Network/Project Astro

Vivian White loves observing, learning and teaching astronomy. She works at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific as the coordinator of Bay Area Project ASTRO, partnering local astronomers and teachers and helping them pass the spark of astronomy on to the next generation. She is also an administrator with NASA's Night Sky Network, where she connects astronomy clubs across the country and encourages their outreach efforts. Vivian has lived in San Francisco for over a decade and completed a bachelors degree in Astronomy at SFSU in 2006.