News from around the BoV
and the Texas Astronomy Program for February 2013
• Sally Dodson-Robinson Wins the 2012 Annie Jump Cannon
Award: At the January meeting of the American Astronomical Society
(its 221st) in Long Beach, California, University of Texas at Austin
Assistant Professor of Astronomy Sally Dodson-Robinson was named winner
of its Annie Jump Cannon Award for outstanding research and the promise
for future research by a woman.
Dr. Sally Dodson-Robinson
According to the AAS press release about the award, Dodson-Robinson
was cited for her contributions to the study of the formation of
planetary systems, and for her "insights into giant planet formation in
our own solar system and in exoplanetary systems" which "arise from
combining theoretical modeling with observations of stars and
Dodson-Robinson's work with the Texas Advance Computing Center was
profiled in the November 2012 issue of the Board of Visitors e-News.
Dodson-Robinson and TACC Create 2-D and 3-D Simulations of Planet
Formation (with some surprise results)
Otto Struve Telescope
• Beautiful Snow, Wild Dust at McDonald Observatory David
Doss, the Observing Support Assistant Manager at McDonald Observatory,
routinely chronicles the wild weather in the Davis Mountains. At the
links below, you can find two of his photographs of the 82-inch Otto
Struve Telescope blanketed in snow just after dawn on January 11, 2013.
Even more dramatic is a short movie, which shows the sky over the
Observatory filling up with dust as high winds moved in from Northern
Mexico on the evening of February 24, 2013. The sky goes from clear to
nearly dark between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. local time, captured in a
time-lapse movie of only 22 seconds.
David Doss: Entry of the Otto Struve Telescope, Jan. 11, 2013
Doss: Top of Mount Locke, Jan. 11, 2013 (High Resolution)
David Doss: Time lapse shows dust storm covering McDonald
Frank Kell Cahoon, 1934-2013
• In Memoriam: Frank Kell Cahoon of Midland: Long time Board of Visitors Member at Large Frank Kell Cahoon of Midland, a former oilman, state representative, philanthropist, and friend to many associated with the Texas Astronomy Program, died at his home on January 30, 2013.
More information can be found at:
Frank Cahoon Death Notice from the Midland Reporter-Telegram
• BoV member's company's product appears on "Big Bang Theory": Doug
Renfro of Fort Worth, an Associate Member of the Board of Visitors
since 2010 and one of five family members active in the operation of
family-owned Renfro Foods, emailed on February 11 to say, "See attached
– I almost fell off the couch when I saw it – networking with set
decorators can pay off! - Doug."
A bottle of Mrs. Renfro's sauce showed up on the
popular television series "The Big Bang Theory." It's just to the right
of the CBS logo in this screen image provided by Doug Renfro.
As shown in the screen image that Doug sent, above, a bottle of Mrs.
Renfro's salsa stands on the counter of one of the character's kitchens
— it's just to the right of the CBS logo.
You can learn more about Mrs. Renfro's products at the company web
• BoV members invited to “Neal Fest” BoV members are invited
to any or all of the events of an upcoming celebration organized by the
colleagues and students of Neal Evans II, which will be held in Austin
April 24-26, 2013. Evans, the Edward Randall, Jr., M.D., Centennial
Professor in Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin Department
of Astronomy (and a former Chair of the Astronomy Department), joined
the UT faculty in 1975. He will be recognized as “a pioneer in the study
of how stars form within this Galaxy and others,” with presentations
focused on “the numerous advances he has made, placing them in context
with our current understanding of star formation in the Universe.”
Neal Evans II
The symposium will be held in the Avaya Auditorium of the ACES
Building on the UT Austin campus on Thursday, April 25, and Friday,
April 26, from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Social events associated with the symposium will include a welcome
reception at the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin from 7:00 to 9:00
p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, and a conference banquet, also at the
Driskill Hotel, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Thursday April 25.
The NealFest Scientific Organizing Committee consists of Ewine van
Dishoeck, Jeong-Eun Lee, and UT Austin Astronomy Department Chair Daniel
Jaffe. Members of the Local Organizing Committee are James Di Francesco,
Jeong-Eun Lee, Yancy Shirley, Joel Green, John Lacy, Daniel Jaffe, and
If you would like to attend any events of Neal Fest, please contact
Joel Barna or Daniel Cournoyer (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone:
512-471-3303). There is a $50 fee for attending the conference banquet.
You can learn more about attending NealFest, at:
NealFest Symposium home page
• BoV members: Please mark your calendar for these upcoming
Board of Visitors meeting dates:
Awards presented at the Feb. 8, 2013 BoV
Presented with BoV Staff Excellence Awards at February Dinner:
The 2012-13 Board of Visitors Staff Excellence Awards were presented to
four winners at the February 8, 2013, Board of Visitors Dinner. David
Doss, the Observing Support Assistant Manager at McDonald
Observatory, was recognized for decades of dedicated service to keeping
the facilities of the observatory available for year-round observations;
Kelly Guynes, the Technical Trades Crew Leader with McDonald
Observatory's Physical Plant department, won the second award given to a
member of the observatory's West Texas staff. In Austin, McDonald
Observatory Senior Software Engineer Ronnie D. Leck was
recognized for his work on the control-system software for the
Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment's new tracker, while
Rachel Walker, the Graduate Program Coordinator for the
Department of Astronomy, was cited for her dedication to the students in
the astronomy program.
Spitzer Space Telescope artist's
• Neal Evans II named Fellow of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science: Astronomy Professor Neal Evans II was one
of seven faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin who have
been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science. Fellows as chosen each year by their peers to recognize "to
recognize their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to
advance science or its applications," according to the AAAS press
release. Evans, who was honored at the AAAS Fellows Forum in Boston on
February 16, 2013, was recognized for leading a team of 60 astronomers
in a Spitzer Space Telescope Legacy Science Program focused on star
formation, "one of six major Spitzer surveys that have generated a huge
amount of open-access data for astronomers and led to more than 50
scientific papers," and for major contributions to knowledge about the
formation of stars and planets.
• American Astronomical Society Names Diekmann Winner of
Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award: University of Texas
at Austin Astronomy undergraduate James Diekmann won a Chambliss
Astronomy Achievement Student Award at the January 2013 American
Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, CA. Chambliss Student awards
are given to recognize exemplary research by undergraduate students who
present at one of the poster sessions at the AAS. Diekmann's
presentation, "The Morphology of Double-peaked Active Galactic Nuclei,"
analyzed spectra at the core of massive galaxies to distinguish true
binary black holes from similar signatures produced by outflows or disk
rotation of singular active galactic nuclei.
• California, Pennsylvania astronomers use Otto Struve Telescope
to study "Exocomets": Astronomers from the University of California
at Berkeley and Clarion University in Pennsylvania made national news in
January. They announced that they had used McDonald Observatory's Otto
Struve Telescope, during three five-night long observing runs between
2010 and 2012, to discover the signatures of six different likely comets
around distant stars, dubbed "exocomets." The researchers say the
results suggest that excomets may be as common as exoplanets – which
observers have being finding by the hundreds over the last decade.
You can find more about the research at:
Exocomets May be as Common as Exoplanets
SciNews.com - Astronomers Discover Six New Exocomets
• Just for fun: New York Times photomontages show what skies over cities would look like without light pollution: The New York Times presents a slide show created by Thierry Cohen, a French photographer, who blended scenes from Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and other cities — shot and altered to eliminate lights and other distractions — with the night skies from less populated locations that fall on the same latitudes. It's a vision of what might be if people paid more attention to keeping skies dark.
Starry Starry Night
• Just for fun 2: Minutes Physics – How Big Is The Universe?: A fast-moving artist uses simple white-board drawings to explain that the whole Universe is bigger – much bigger – than the visible Universe, and that it has neither a center nor an edge. The site is called Minute Physics, but this movie lasts a little under 4 minutes.
How Big is the Universe?