We’re a non-profit 501c3 organization comprised of dedicated volunteers that is dedicated to bringing the wonders of the night sky to the public. Come and join us every Wednesday night from 8-10pm (weather permitting & when the skies are clear) for our public nights and enjoy the views of planets, nebulae, and other deep sky objects through our telescopes. The Dome Observatory houses a 12.5″ Newtonian telescope and the lawn regularly hosts the newly upgraded and HUGE 25″ Obsession telescope, the largest in Connecticut available to the public. In addition, please join us for our free monthly lectures, featuring the best speakers from around the world in diverse fields such as astronomy, cosmology, and physics.
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, September 16, 8:00pm
The Westport Astronomical Society’s Free Monthly Lecture Series
September 16 - Stefan Nicolescu, the collections manager of the Yale mineralogy division returns to give his full talk on meteorites.
October 21 – Kevin Green, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Uconn-Stamford and a WAS board member will talk about his passion for getting the Westport Astronomical Society to do some REAL science by observing occultations. An occultation is when one celestial body passes in front of another, hiding the more distant body from the observer. Occultations of stars by solar system asteroids, planets and planetoids are visible daily somewhere on planet Earth if you have the proper equipment and are in the right place at the right time. While it can be pretty cool to watch a star disappear and then reappear, occultation observations are rather useful scientifically. Kevin will discuss occultations, how they are used in different scientific pursuits, and how the Westport Astronomical Society can get involved locally in what is now a very global pursuit.
November 18 – Stan Honda, a New York-based photographer for Agence France-Presse, the French news agency. He covers a wide range of topics including news events, politics, economics, sports and human interest stories. Photographing the space shuttle program for five years was a highlight. Recent projects involve night sky landscapes, combining his interest in astronomy and photography. In 2011 he worked as artist-in-residence at the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks and most recently completed a week of photography at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.
December 16 – Dr. Ashley Pagnotta – Observational Physicist at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Pagnotta is interested in a wide variety of stellar explosions, specifically those that occur on and in white dwarfs, the leftover cores of stars like our Sun, everything from classical novae to Type Ia supernovae. She uses a variety of observational tools to conduct her research across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from the latest space X-ray telescopes to archival glass plates taken more than a century ago. Dr. Pagnotta is currently working on a survey program to determine how novae behave after their eruptions, and continues to remain interested in solving the Type Ia supernova progenitor problem.
January 20, 2015 – Michele Limon – Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University. “The CMB from Curiosity to Tool”
March 17, 2015 - Imre Bartos, Columbia University physicist. Black Holes, and What We Can Learn from Them without Falling in Breakthroughs in our understanding of the physical world often come from the exploration of Nature at its extremes. In many cases these explorations lead us far away from Earth, into the cosmos. From the earliest times and greatest distances, to the strongest forces and highest energies, astronomical observations helped us reach depths unachievable on Earth. Black holes are one of the most mysterious creatures of the cosmos. They are barely observable from afar, but show peculiar behavior once something or someone is nearby. We have surprisingly little information about them (none has been directly observed so far!), and we seem to have no mechanism at our disposal, even in principle, to peek into their inner workings. Beyond being distant, enigmatic objects, black holes are also one of the best tools to examine extreme phenomena and expand our horizon of fundamental physics and astronomy. I will present black holes from this, somewhat unusual, perspective: their role in helping us better understand Nature.