For over 40 years, the Westport Astronomical Society has brought the wonders of the night sky to the thousands who have visited the observatory. We’re a volunteer-run, non-profit organization that’s free and open to the public every Wednesday night from 8-10 pm, if the skies are clear. 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.
WAS has free monthly meetings with experts at the top of their fields. We feature speakers from the Hayden Planetarium, The American Museum of Natural History, Yale, NYU, UConn, Columbia and educators from all over the globe who enrich our community with cutting edge discussions on cosmology, physics and astronomy. Additionally, there are additional special, private events scheduled throughout the year for our members and supporters.
How The Universe Grew Its Ears | Dr. Zsuzsa Marka – Columbia University
Gravitational waves – ripples in space and time – can be emitted by the cosmic dance of a pair of black holes, each a few ten times more massive than our Sun. The frequency of these waves is in the audible band and we use detectors that are in some sense analogous to a human ear – sensitive to all direction around us. Since the prediction of gravitational waves by Einstein in 1916, it took a full century for humanity to detect these elusive waves, due to their miniscule amplitude at far distance.
I will talk about the technological innovations that lead to the first detection of gravitational waves a year ago. I will also discuss how this new technology will revolutionize astronomy and astrophysics in the years to come.
Warm With A Slight Chance of Rain: A 3.7 Billion Year Old Weather Forecast for the Planet Mars | George D McDonald
Evidence for a wetter Martian past has formed some of the most exciting discoveries from recent missions to Mars. The observations of ancient river valley networks from orbit, and detection of clays and other altered minerals both from orbit and by rovers on the ground now provide strong evidence that there were large amounts of liquid water on Mars’s surface for significant periods of time during its early history. The presence of surface water requires both a substantially warmer and wetter climate than is found today. Understanding exactly how this climate was maintained and how these conditions were later lost is a major ongoing topic of research, and studies of Mars’s current day atmosphere are providing many clues. These include ground-based observations that are giving us estimates of how much water Mars once had, measurements by the MAVEN mission of the rate at which Mars is losing its atmosphere to space, and modifications to models originally developed to predict present-day weather on Mars. I will discuss these efforts as well as the recent discovery of present-day seasonal liquid water and fog outbursts, and what they may be telling us about a wet, ancient Mars.
Astronomy only works if you can see the sky! Check the current sky conditions and see whether the observatory is open before planning your trip.
For over 4 decades, the Westport Astronomical Society has been introducing new generations to the wonders of the night sky. Become a member today for special access to members-only benefits while helping support science in your community.Become a Member
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