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RASC Vancouver Monthly Meeting

  • Apr 11, 2013 · 7:30 PM
  • Hennings Physics building at UBC

This is the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada - Vancouver monthly meeting for April 2013 and is shared with the general public at no charge.

Please take note of the special location for this lecture.

Location: UBC Hennings Physics Building, Room 201 (*)

Date: Thursday April 11, 7:30-9:00PM.

Speaker: Christiaan Sterken, University of Brussels

Title: From Celestial Cartography to Asteroseismology. A Story of 1001 Nights.


This talk starts with a description of the serendipitous discovery, by a Dutch cartographer in 1600AD, of a “new” star. This star became the prototype of a new class of variable stars, the “Luminous Blue Variables”, a small group of massive stars that exhibit semi‐regular and irregular variations,including outbursts and explosions.The lecture gives an account of the speaker’s personal research involvement in the observational study of stars of this class, with emphasis on his four decades‐long observational activities at observatories in Chile. Besides addressing interesting aspects of observational astrophysics, this presentation also coverselements of the history of astronomy, but also emphasizes the role of serendipity in scientific research and discovery. The talk also reflects on the impact of university and international politics on the life and work of a scientist.

This talk is aimed at the general public and does not require any knowledge or training in astronomy. Dr. Sterken promises to "(try to) explain in simple words what I have been doing for the last 45 years, and what science/astronomy really is about."

Speaker Bio:

Christiaan Sterken received his MSc in Mathematics at the University of Ghent (1969), his PhD in Astronomy at the University of Brussels (1976), and his Habilitation degree at the University of Liège(1988). He is Research Director at the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research, and works at the Department of Physics at the University of Brussels.

Dr. Sterken's principal field of research is the photometry of variable stars(luminous blue variables, massive binaries, pulsating main sequence stars, and cataclysmic variables), and comets. He also teaches courses in observational astronomy, and on the history of natural sciences at the University of Brussels. In 2006 he was accorded the 21st Sarton Chair for the History of Sciences at the University of Ghent (Belgium).  CS is the Editor of The Journal of Astronomical Data, an Open‐Access on‐line astronomical journal

(*) For directions:

Please consult the UBC Wayfinding site:

The North Parkade and the UBC bus loop are about a five-minute walk from the Hennings Building.

Join or login to comment.

  • Cole D.

    Great. Interesting lecture & got to know about the group and how to participate in upcoming events.

    April 15, 2013

  • Gavin M.

    One of the best I have ever attended, excellent speaker with an excellent and captivating story.

    April 11, 2013

  • Scott M.

    Great lecture, great speaker, great venue. Well done, RASC

    April 11, 2013

  • Eric

    I'm new to the area & new to astronomy. Looking forward to meeting everyone.

    April 10, 2013

  • Cole D.

    Looking forward to this talk.

    April 8, 2013

  • Hojin Cate S.

    I'm so happy to join this Astronomy Meetup Group :)
    See you soon!!

    1 · February 12, 2013

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