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, Cornell, Wesleyan, Columbia as well as 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.
Observational galaxy formation and evolution | Dr. Katherine E. Whitaker, UCONN
With exquisite Hubble Space Telescope observations, my collaborators, students and I explore the rich uncharted territory of the distant universe. Our understanding of the cosmos is fundamentally tied to the study of galaxies, the birthplace of all stars and life itself. Over the last few decades, astronomers have progressed from archeological studies of nearby galaxies to direct observations of the early universe. We have uncovered billions of years of cosmic growth that present new challenges to galaxy formation theories. In this talk, I will review the recent innovative techniques developed to probe the distant universe, and the key observations constraining the formation histories of galaxies over the past eleven billion years. We have discovered a population of surprisingly compact and massive “red and dead” (quiescent) galaxies that are no longer actively forming stars. The physical mechanisms responsible for shutting down star formation and the subsequent buildup of this quiescent population at such early times is one of the most outstanding questions in astrophysics today. We don’t yet understand why these enigmatic galaxies are so compact, with sizes a factor of 5 smaller than nearby galaxies with a similar total number of stars. I will present promising paths forward towards solving this puzzle that leverage the capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as a look toward the future with exciting upcoming public facilities. As we reveal how galaxies are evolving from the earliest times to the present day, we are continually piecing together an intriguing timeline of the cosmos.
As an observational extragalactic astronomer, I study the formation and evolution of massive galaxies over the past eleven billion years of cosmic time. I am interested in pushing our detection of quiescent “red and dead” galaxies even earlier in time (within only a few billion years of the Big Bang itself!), as well as understanding the detailed physics of the structures and underlying stellar populations of massive galaxies. With exquisite Hubble Space Telescope imaging and spectroscopy, my collaborators and I continue to explore the rich uncharted territory of the distant universe. Our understanding of the cosmos is fundamentally tied to the study of galaxies, the birthplace of all stars and life itself. As we reveal how galaxies are evolving from the earliest times to the present day, we are continually piecing together an intriguing timeline of the cosmos.
The Bob Meadows Annual Stellafane Report | WAS Observatory Director Bob Meadows
WAS Observatory Director Bob Meadows reports on the latest innovations from The 82nd Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers
A Brief History of Chemistry in the Cosmos | Dr. Daniel Wolf Savin – Astrophysics Laboratory, Columbia University
Come travel down the cosmic chemical pathway from the Big Bang to the formation of stars and to life as we know it. Our chemical studies have advanced understanding how the first stars formed and how the raw materials needed for life were first synthesized. Join me as I hop, skip, and jump my way across cosmic time and explain key chemical processes along the way.
Daniel Wolf Savin received his Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University, working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He was a post-doctoral research physicist at the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of California at Berkeley. From there he moved to the Astrophysics Laboratory at Columbia University, where he is now a senior research scientist. His research career began in the area of atomic laboratory astrophysics but has since expanded to include molecular laboratory astrophysics, plasma laboratory astrophysics, and solar physics. Dr. Savin was a driving force behind the recent creation of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society and currently serves as the LAD Secretary. He has authored or co-authored over 170 publications and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Cosmic Fireworks: Explosions from Massive Stars | Dr. Maryam Modjaz, Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, NYU
Dr. Modjaz’s research and that of her group addresses problems in stellar death astrophysics through extensive and panchromatic observations of various types of massive stellar explosions, specifically Gamma-Ray Bursts and Supernovae, which are among the most powerful explosions in the universe, as well as a growing class of exotic transients. With the goal of understanding their stellar progenitors and the explosion conditions that determine the fate of massive stars, she also studies these stellar explosions’ host environments and host galaxies, in particular, the metallicities at the explosion sites, as a promising new tool for differentiating between various progenitor models.
Astrophysics is entering the Golden Age of innovative time-domain surveys that stand to revolutionize our understanding of the transient sky. Dr. Modjaz is part of the very successful Palomar Transient Factory (PTF, which finished as such in Dec 2012, and is now continuing as iPTF), as well as the large-scale Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) planned for around 2020. She is also a member of the SWIFT SN Team.
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
We want to see you here at the observatory! Get directions or reach out to us.Contact Us