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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Thursday, May 23, 2019

LTO Star Night-May 17, 2019

The
speaker for this evening will be Dr. Dan Durda from Southwest Research
Institute in Boulder and the title of his talk will be “All These Worlds: The
Exoplanet Revolution”.

For generations we’ve wondered whether we are alone in the Universe. Thanks in large part to space missions like Kepler, we now know that we live in a galaxy full of diverse planetary systems. Not only are we detecting planets around thousands of other stars, we are beginning to characterize them as well, revealing the vast stage for the play of life in the Universe.

Daniel D. Durda has more than twenty years of
experience researching the collisional and dynamical evolution of main-belt and
near-Earth asteroids, Vulcanoids, Kuiper belt comets, and interplanetary
dust.  His research interests include
numerical modeling of the formation of asteroid satellites and observational
searches for them, studies of crater ejecta generation and redistribution on
asteroids, the environmental effects of asteroid and comet impacts on Earth,
and airborne astronomical observations from high-performance jet aircraft.

Dr. Durda has extensive experimental experience
in hypervelocity impact studies, is an active pilot with time logged in over a
dozen types of aircraft including the F/A-18 Hornet and the F-104 Starfighter,
and has spent over 110 minutes of time in zero-gravity conducting experiments
on NASA’s KC-135 Reduced Gravity Research Aircraft.  A finalist in the 2004 NASA astronaut
selection, Durda is one of three SwRI payload specialists who will fly on
multiple suborbital spaceflights with Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.  He serves on the Board of the B612
Foundation, served as a member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s
Suborbital Applications Researchers Group from 2008-2017, and served for over
15 years as the program coordinator for the Planetary Society’s Gene Shoemaker
Near-Earth Object Grant Program.  He has
co-authored a book, published numerous articles popularizing planetary science
and human exploration of space, and has appeared in over 70 nationally-broadcast
television science documentaries.  Durda
is the 2015 recipient of the AAS/DPS Carl Sagan Medal “for excellence in public
communication in planetary science”.  Dan
is a Fellow and former member of the Board of Directors of the International
Association of Astronomical Artists; his space art has appeared in many
magazines and books and has been internationally exhibited.  Dr. Durda is an experienced cave diver and
holds multiple scuba and cave diving certifications, including Full Cave and
Cave Recovery Specialist; until recently he served as the Colorado and Arizona
Regional Coordinator for the International Underwater Cave Rescue and Recovery
team.

Weather
permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through the
large telescope at various celestial objects. Public star nights are held the
third Friday of each month, except July, when the LTO is closed for annual
maintenance.

If you have any questions, please call
the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at
www.starkids.org

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