The first confirmed discovery of an exoplanet—a planet that orbits a star outside of the Earth’s solar system—was of 51 Pegasi b in 1995. Since then, with the advance of telescope technology and emerging research, hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered, forever changing our view of the universe.
This exciting topic will be the focus of the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus’ spring Star Party in May.
The spring Star Party will take place from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 2, in the Canyon Country campus’ Carl A. Rasmussen Amphitheater. Admission is free of charge and open to the public.
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“We are very excited to continue this fascinating discussion about exoplanets with the community at the Canyon Country campus,” said Ryan Theule, dean of the Canyon Country Campus.
At the event, guest speaker Dr. Charles Beichman, executive director of NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute, will lead a discussion titled “The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST): The Next Giant Step in Characterizing Other Planets.”
Set to launch in 2018, JWST will replace the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes and will revolutionize exoplanet science, allowing astronomers to characterize atmospheres and weather patterns on exoplanets.
After Beichman’s presentation on exoplanet research, he will lead a Q&A session with the audience.
In relation to Beichman’s presentation, COC astronomy professor Teresa Ciardi will lead a demonstration of meteor impacts, with some help from children in the audience.
“Children in the audience will be invited to come to the front and drop marbles into different substances to simulate meteor impacts on different planets,” said Ciardi. “There will also be two hands-on science tables where families can explore and learn from physics and astronomy materials.”
Members of the college’s Astronomy & Physics Club and local amateur astronomy groups from Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley and Burbank will also set up telescopes aimed at any celestial bodies that are visible, which attendees can view.
Though some seating will be provided, Star Party attendees are encouraged to get to campus early with blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets, to enjoy a festive outdoor atmosphere as the sun begins to set and the night sky emerges.
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Food and beverages will also be available for purchase at the event through the Canyons Café on the Canyon Country campus. A portion of the concession sales from the Star Party are being donated to the Dr. Ram Manvi Memorial Scholarship to benefit students who are majoring in the fields of mathematics, science or engineering technology.
Dr. Manvi was the former Dean of Math, Science and Engineering at College of the Canyons and was instrumental in launching the campus’ initial Star Party event in 2009.
Source: Santa Clarita News