Category Featured Events

MAS November Monthly Meeting

Whispers from the Universe: Astronomy with Gravitational Waves

Dr. Patrick Brady, LIGO, November Meeting Speaker

Dr. Brady will talk about the generation of gravitational waves by colliding black holes and neutron stars, and how they are measured here on Earth using the LIGO detectors. He will tell the story of the first detection of gravitational waves in 2015, for which the Nobel Prize was awarded in 2017, through to the exciting observations that are becoming almost routine.

Patrick Brady received his B.Sc. from University College Dublin in 1988 and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Alberta in 1994 where he studied with Werner Israel. He has held research positions at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Caltech, University of California, Santa Barbara...

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Virtual Moon Over Monona Terrace

8.8 day old moon

FREE Virtual Event

Friday, October 23, 2020
7:30 – 9:30PM


Moon Over Monona Terrace is going virtual! Take a live guided tour of our Moon and other celestial objects in our solar system with members of the Madison Astronomical Society (MAS). Program Highlights:

  • Live Telescope Feed (weather permitting) – Explore the surface of the Moon and other celestial objects through telescopes provided by MAS members.
  • Sky Talk (planetarium simulation) – Explore the night sky and the wonders of astronomy, led by Geoff Holt, Planetarium Director, Madison Memorial H.S.
  • YouTube Channel (informational and educational videos) – Visit the Monona Terrace YouTube channel and select from several videos, presented by members of MAS, to enhance your event experience.

Advanced r...

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MAS October Monthly Meeting

Insterstellar laser-sailing: problems and solutions

October MAS Speaker: Dr. Victor Brar

The October MAS meeting will be a virtual meeting hosted with Zoom.

Speaker: Victor Brar, Van Vleck Assistant Professor of Physics, UW-Madison.

In this talk Dr. Brar will summarize recent efforts that have been put into motion which aim to send spacecraft to Alpha Centauri at relativistic speeds, with a goal of receiving data back within our lifetimes. Those proposed missions hinge on developing laser sail technology, in which a high power (~100GW) laser propels a reflective spacecraft. He will discuss the stringent design parameters that the spacecraft must satisfy, and describe how those parameters can be achieved using recently developed ‘metasurface’ technology.

Dr...

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MAS September Monthly Meeting

Copernicus: A Life on the Frontiers

MAS September Meeting with Dr. Michael Shank

The September MAS meeting will be a virtual meeting hosted with Zoom.

UW Madison emeritus professor of the history of science Dr. Michael Shank will present on “Copernicus: A Life on the Frontiers.”

Description: An unexpected invitation to write a general-audience biography of Copernicus has forced this historian of medieval science to wrestle anew with the founding figure of the Scientific Revolution. I expected the assignment to be quick and easy. Instead, it has driven me back to the sources and completely changed my picture of the man. Copernicus was far more buffeted by Baltic politics and indebted to his late-medieval background than I had ever expected...

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MAS August Monthly Meeting

A Brief History of Time(keeping): Optical atomic clocks and their applications

Image of an optical atomic clock

At the August MAS meeting, our guest speaker will be Shimon Kolkowitz of the UW-Madison physics department (assistant professor). Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this meeting will again be held via Zoom.

Optical atomic clocks are now the most stable and accurate timekeepers in the world, with fractional accuracies equivalent to neither losing nor gaining a second over the entire age of the universe. This unprecedented level of metrological precision offers sensitivity to new physics phenomena, opening the door to exciting and unusual applications...

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MAS July Monthly Meeting

Solar System Remnants

Jordan Marché

The July meeting of the Madison Astronomical Society will again be held online. Our guest speaker is Jordan Marché of the UW Madison. Jordan’s talk is entitled: “Solar System Remnants.”

The ‘golden age’ of planetary exploration continues unabated. Along with all of the major planets and their principal satellites, spacecraft have explored the dwarf planets Pluto and Ceres, the Kuiper Belt Object Arrokoth (formerly Ultima-Thule), together with a number of large and small asteroids and comets. This talk presents an overview of many of the latest surveys and discoveries concerning these ‘minor’ members of the Solar System, along with implications for how they have redirected the evolution of life here on Earth...

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MAS June Monthly Meeting

MAS History Project – MAS Turns 90

UW Students' Observatory from the mid-70s

The Madison Astronomical Society is turning 90 next year. All this spring the History Committee has been delving into the archives, interviewing surviving members, pouring over newspaper microfiche, and turning over rocks. Come see some of the surprises we’ve discovered.

This photo was shot at the Oscar Mayer Observatory (in Fitchburg) sometime in the mid-1970s by one of the Explorer Post Scouts. This observatory used to be the UW “Students’ Observatory” and from 1880 to 1960 sat on Observatory Hill right beside the Washburn Observatory...

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MAS May Monthly Meeting

Mining the Spitzer Space Telescope Data Archive for Dust

MMSD Planetarium Team

Geoff Holt was accepted into the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program (NITARP) this past year which teamed him up with other teachers around the country and an astronomer from CalTech/JPL. This program aims to give teachers experience doing actual astronomy research, and they can get students involved if they wish. Over the past year, Geoff and five James Madison Memorial High School students have been participating in this research team. Their goal has been to mine the Spitzer Space Telescope data archive in search of sources that have an excess of infrared light compared to a black body curve...

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MAS April Monthly Meeting

On-Line Monthly Meeting - Members Only

MAS is back!

We’re still observing public health advisories to avoid any face to face meetings so for our April meeting, MAS is going virtual!

Friday, April 10 our own Jeff Shokler will present “Wonders of the Universe: Exploring the Night Sky Through Astrophotography.” During his presentation he will share images captured of a wide variety of astronomical objects including the Moon, planets, lunar and solar eclipses, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and much more. Over the course of the presentation he will take the audience on a journey from objects close to home to those found in some of the most distant reaches and earliest time periods of the universe...

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MAS March Monthly Meeting

Prof. John Valley

CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

Analysis of terrestrial zircons yields radiometric ages nearly as old as the Earth, but these ages (4 – 4.4 billion years old) have been challenged. Questions around Uranium-Lead (U-Pb) radiometric dating geochronology have been in play for over 100 years, and were first resolved in 2014 for a 4.374 billion year old zircon. These new results based on oxygen isotopes show that most of the Hadean Eon (ca. 4 – 4.4 billion years ago) was not “hell-like” as commonly believed and implied by the name. The earliest Earth was indeed hot, violent and inhospitable, but by 4.3 billion years ago its surface had cooled and the steam atmosphere condensed to form habitable oceans...

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