An NRAO Community Day, sponsored by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the Department of Astronomy will be held on the Austin campus Friday, November 1 in the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Building. The sponsors are especially interested in reaching new users, without radio astronomy expertise. Photo: The ALMA array, located at 5,000 meters elevation in Chile, is the world's largest astronomical project.
On Saturday, August 24, 2013, the third mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be cast inside a rotating furnace at the
University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, the only facility in the world where mirrors of this size are being made. The
Mirror Lab will host a rare media opportunity to witness this milestone in the creation of the optics for the GMT. Each of the seven
mirrors weighs roughly 20 tons, yet the surface has to be smooth to within a twentieth of a wavelength of light. The GMT mirrors
are considered to be the greatest astronomical optics challenge ever undertaken. Here's a short video discussing the mirror
The HETDEX project has passed an important milestone with the successful coating of the three largest mirrors in the wide-field corrector,
a system that will focus light from the Hobby-Eberly Telescope's primary mirror and direct it to the scientific instruments.
"The coating met all our specifications and it's very durable," says HETDEX principal investigator Gary Hill, the chief astronomer for
McDonald Observatory. "There was risk associated with that because we had to transport the mirrors and handle them, and if one of
them had broken, the project would have been derailed for several years."
The University of Arizona Optical Sciences Center is building the corrector, which consists of four mirrors.
Edward Randall, Jr. M.D. Centennial Professor in Astronomy Neal J. Evans, II will be honored by students and colleagues from around the world,
in a two day symposium, "Nealfest: Observing the Universe from Molecules to Galaxies," Thursday
and Friday, April 25-26, at the Avaya Auditorium, ACES 2.302 [map]
on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Presentations will reflect central themes of Dr. Evans' research: Protostellar Evolution
and Star Formation, Interstellar Clouds and Molecular Chemistry, Star Formation Rates in the Milky Way and other Galaxies. Many former students,
now representing some of the world's most prestigious astronomical institutions, will present research, including results from space observatories
Spitzer and Herschel, and early results from the giant ALMA antenna array.
Undergraduate Astronomy Major Wins UT Student Employee of the Year, Astronomy Department Outstanding Senior Award
4 April 2013
Senior Kevin Luecke, who recently won University wide recognition as Student Employee of the Year, has been awarded the
Astronomy Department's Outstanding Senior Award for 2013. Kevin's exceptional contribution has grown from participation in the University's innovative
Freshman Research Initiative (FRI). The Astronomy Department sponsors two FRI streams, in Cosmology and White Dwarf research. Kevin has
been instrumental in the development of the White Dwarf FRI stream, mentoring fellow students, and leading FRI groups on observing runs
at McDonald Observatory. A dual major in Computer Science, Kevin has written CCD camera interface code, optimized analysis software for PC graphics cards,
and uses 3D hydrodynamics code to run White Dwarf convection simulations on supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Kevin has worked under
the supervision of Drs. Don Winget and Mike Montgomery.
Sarah Dodson-Robinson is an assistant professor in the astronomy department at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member
of the American Astronomical Society and recently won the organization's Annie Jump Cannon Award for her work exploring how
planets form. Dodson-Robinson says she enjoys discovering new things and coming up with new pieces of knowledge, no matter
how small. She describes it as a "wonderful feeling." CNN Light Years recently chatted with Dodson-Robinson about her research.
Here is an edited transcript:
CNN: What is the main goal of your research program?
Sarah Dodson-Robinson: My main goal is to answer
the question, "How do planets form?" I’m interested in almost any type of planet, but my work so far is best known for its focus on
supergiant planets, which are much more massive than Jupiter. I also study stars that host planets...
University of Texas astronomers Karl Gebhardt, Sarah Tuttle and Steven Finkelstein will speak at a gala three-day South
by Southwest Interactive "Space Exploration" event Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 8-10, at Auditorium Shores, Austin.
On outdoor exhibit, will be a full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) the size of a tennis court and
4 stories high. The JWST is NASA's successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and will be 100 times more powerful. The
three-day schedule includes a talk from Nobel Prize-winning astronomer John Mather and scientists from MIT and
elsewhere; nightly star parties hosted by local astronomy clubs; and an attempt at breaking the Guinness Book record
for the world's largest astronomy lesson. All events and exhibits are free and accessible without a festival pass. The event
is sponsored by JWST builder Northrup Grumman.
Dr. Volker Bromm will deliver the 21st Annual Great Lecture in Astronomy, "The First Stars and Galaxies", February
9, 1-2 PM, at the Avaya Auditorium [map], ACES 2.302.
The lecture is free and open to the public. The first generation of stars and galaxies were not the same as what
is studied with current telescopes, but transformed the universe from a
simple state to one of increasing complexity. Dr. Bromm models this cosmological era in large-scale
simulations, on supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computer Center. The James Webb and Giant
Magellan Telescopes may soon offer the power to image this early time directly. The Great Lecture is sponsored by the
Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory Board of Visitors.
McDonald Observatory Director David Lambert [Eric Shelton]
Karl Gebhardt doesn't propose to make Texas the center of the universe, but rather the center of the study of the universe. Gebhardt and David Lambert, astronomers at the University of Texas at Austin, split chores Friday in talking to hundreds of Abilene high school and university students about November's announcement of the discovery of the largest black hole known to exist. The discovery was made with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of far southwest Texas.
Gebhardt and Lambert addressed students of Abilene's Academy of Technology, Engineering, Math & Science, Cooper High School, Abilene High School, HSU, McMurry University and Abilene Christian University.
Anson D'Aloisio Wins Yale University Brouwer Prize
Postdoctoral Fellow Anson D'Aloisio has been awarded the 2013 Brouwer prize from the Yale University Department of Astronomy, for his
2011 Ph.D. dissertation "Cosmological Structures and Gravitational Lensing". The Dirk Brouwer Memorial Prize is awarded to students for
contributions of unusual merit to astronomy. Dr. D'Aloisio works with Prof. Paul Shapiro, and is also a Research/Educator for the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) stream "Cosmic Dawn".
He first developed an interest in astronomy as a high school junior in Kent, England. He
joined the UT Faculty in 1969. Now, after 10 years as director of UT's McDonald Observatory,
David Lambert is planning to retire. "When I step down, I shall be 75, and that sounds
old enough to let someone younger have a shot," Lambert said. "It will be nice to get fresh blood into the system." Lambert, who is also an
astronomy professor, will step down by August 2014.
McDonald Observatory Officer Receives Prestigious Law Enforcement Award
Police officer Joe Mike Pasqua has been honored with the Texas
Law Enforcement Achievement Award for Public Service, a state wide honor from the Texas Commission on Law
Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.