Category Monthly Meeting

MAS October Monthly Meeting

Insterstellar laser-sailing: problems and solutionsDescription:

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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MAS January Monthly Meeting

Landscape Astrophotography – Diane Ramthun

Diane Ramthun is a Wisconsin-based photographer who enjoys doing night sky landscapes. Her talk will focus primarily on viewing and photographing the dark skies over Lake Superior.

Diane: Years ago, while sailing into the remote reaches of Lake Superior, I saw the brilliant stars and Milky Way in the dark night skies for the first time. I wanted to capture what I saw and so began my interest in night sky photography. Capturing the connection of light between sky and earth has been my objective. At night over Lake Superior, the stars, Milky Way and planetary bodies cast vibrant and glowing reflections on the waters...

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MAS November Monthly Meeting

Tales and Tails of Star Clusters – Kyle Cudworth

Kyle Cudworth

Star clusters have been critical to our studies of stars and of our galaxy, as well as other areas of astrophysics. Besides their scientific importance, many are also beautiful to look at through a telescope of any size. I will discuss various topics involving star clusters, with a number of examples from my research through the past 45 years

I will make some remarks on the current status of Yerkes Observatory, but the majority of my time will be spent discussing my research on star clusters.

About the Speaker:
Kyle Cudworth, former director of Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, WI, and Prof. Emeritus, The University of Chicago.

Cudworth’s interest in astronomy dates to learning a bit about constellations as a Boy Scout, and...

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