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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Public Star Night at the Little Thompson Observatory

Friday, January 20, 2017

7:00 – 11:00 PM

850 Spartan Ave at Berthoud High School (park east of the high school; directions are posted on the website, www.starkids.org).

The guest speaker is Dr Gordon MacAlpine, and the title of his presentation is “Cosmology with Quasars: Dinosaurs of the Universe”.

This will be a public talk and PowerPoint presentation suitable for all ages. Dr MacAlpine will discuss what quasars are, how they were discovered, how they work, and the lingering controversy about their nature that divided astronomers. Either quasars are small objects, no larger than our solar system that shine with the power of more than a thousand galaxies like our Milky Way; or they are mysterious objects that tell us we do not understand the laws of physics as they apply to our Universe.

Dr MacAlpine was involved in early studies of quasars, observational surveys for finding them…and the controversy. Assuming we do understand the laws of physics reasonably well, then small, extremely energetic quasars lit up the Universe during its infancy. However, like dinosaurs, they have become extinct. Yet, unlike the dinosaurs, we can still see quasars because of space-time properties. We simply have to look near the Universe’s edge. What edge…where? What is on the other side? Hopefully, these and other questions will be answered to everyone’s satisfaction

Dr. Gordon MacAlpine is a retired astronomer, physicist and a member of the Estes Valley Astronomical Society. He received a BA in physics from Earlham College and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin. After a stint at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan where he was a Professor of Astronomy until 2000. Then he accepted the Zilker Distinguished Professor of Physics chair at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where he continued teaching astronomy, physics, and environmental science until his retirement in 2012. Gordon and his wife, Barbara, recently moved to Estes Park

The doors will open at 7:00pm and the presentation will start at 7:30pm. Weather permitting after the presentation (around 8:30 PM), visitors will be invited to observe various celestial objects through the 6” Astro-Physics Refractor, 18” Tinsley and 24” Cole Reflector telescopes.

Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month (except July, when the LTO is closed for annual maintenance). No reservations are necessary for these nights. Just come and join in for the talk and some observing afterwards.

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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