• The Many Shadows of Black Holes

    Parkway Central Library

    Hello Space Fans - As we’re sure many of you know, the historic sighting of the M87 black hole has really turned some heads in the world of astrophysics. So in that regard, we’re honored to have Dr. Joey Neilsen from Villanova University come and speak to our group later this month! Dr. Neilsen played a role on the team that was able to detect M87 so he will be giving a presentation on the events that led to the historic discovery along with a more in-depth look at his specific research within black holes. Please see below for the details of the talk along with a short bio of Dr. Neilsen: Title: The Many Shadows of Black Holes Synopsis: Black holes are objects with gravitational fields so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape their pull. Yet somehow, they have also shaped the universe over billions of years, influencing everything from the formation of stars to the growth of giant clusters of galaxies. Drawing on the first image of a black hole from the Event Horizon Telescope, Dr. Neilsen will explain this paradox, how we can study black holes, and what we can learn about them going forward. Dr. Joey Neilsen is a black hole astrophysicist and Assistant Professor of Physics at Villanova University. He received undergraduate degrees Kenyon College in Physics and Mathematics; he studied with Julia Lee at Harvard University and received his PhD in 2011. He joined the Villanova faculty after postdoctoral fellowships at MIT and Boston University. Dr. Neilsen is an expert in X-ray observations of black holes, and he and his students are frequent users of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, NuSTAR, and NICER, an X-ray telescope onboard the international Space Station. These sensitive facilities offer an exciting view into the energetic lives of black holes, and Dr. Neilsen and his student Jadyn Anczarski were recently fortunate enough to be able to contribute their X-ray expertise to the Event Horizon Telescope's first detection of the shadow of the supermassive black hole in M87. After the presentation, a number of us are planning to gather at the Whole Foods on Pennsylvania Avenue to keep the conversation going. We hope you can join us!

  • 400 Years of the Telescope - Great Advances in Observational Astronomy

    Greetings All - We hope everyone who could join us for Dr. Marc Gagne's discussion had a great time learning about the most recent findings from the T.E.S.S mission We're really looking forward to hosting our next speaker, Dr. David Hockenberry who will be giving a hybrid presentation on: Title: “400 Years of the Telescope - Great Advances in Observational Astronomy with Expert Commentary" Synopsis: This hybrid TPS event combines an award -winning film narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson providing a 400 year historical journey describing major advances in observational astronomy made possible by advances in telescope designs and optics. The subject matter and importance of the film will be discussed through expert commentary provided by Dr. David Hockenberry, President of the Chester County Astronomical Society and long-time member of The Planetary Society. Speaker: Dave Hockenberry MD is an Emergency Room physician by profession and a longtime amateur astronomer, who has been peering at the sky through a telescope since 1969. He is also an avid astrophotographer who built his own back yard observatory. He has spent more money on telescopes and astrophotography gear than should be allowed by the laws of nature, and also collects antique astronomy texts and references to support his interest in the history of astronomy. After Dr. Hockenberry's presentation, a number of us are planning to gather at the Whole Foods on Pennsylvania Avenue to keep the conversation going. We hope you can join us!

  • Hunting for Exoplanets: Kepler, TESS and Citizen Scientists

    Parkway Central Library (Free Library of Philadelphia)

    Does it take the Luck O' the Irish to find new habitable worlds in outer space? Ask one of the researchers involved with NASA's T.E.S.S. mission this March 17th! Mark Gagne of West Chester University will give a talk about exoplanets, Keplar, TESS, and citizen-scientist discoveries. After nine years of operation & discovering nearly 2,700 exoplanets, NASA retired the Kepler mission on 30 October, 2018. Meanwhile, NASA launched its next exoplanet hunter, TESS: the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite on 18 April 2018. This talk will review what we know about exoplanets currently and how we know, discuss prospects for discovering truly habitable exoplanets, and examine how biosignatures may be detected in the atmospheres of those planets. Ii will end by highlighting the discoveries made by Citizen Scientists, and discuss how you can help discover an exoplanet. Dr Marc Gagne is Professor and Assistant Chairperson, Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences, West Chester University. Dr. Gagné is directly involved in the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite project around exoplanet identification. He and his students also study young stars and star formation, primarily through their x-ray and infrared emission. Students in his research group analyze data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton satellite to identify newborn stars in molecular clouds, star clusters, and OB associations. With his collaborators at Swarthmore College, Penn State and the University of Delaware, his research seeks to understand the mechanisms which produce the x-rays seen from the most massive young stars. Dr. Gagné is currently writing a textbook and lab activity book in support of his course on Galaxies and Cosmology.

  • A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Solar System - The 60th Anniversary of NASA

    Parkway Central Library (Free Library of Philadelphia)

    Greetings Space Friends, We hope everyone in our local Planetary Society chapter had a nice holiday season! We’re very excited for all the events we have planned for in 2019. First up we have John Conrad (NASA Ambassador) kicking the year off with a presentation titled, "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Solar System - The 60th Anniversary of NASA". With the 60th Anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration happening just a few months ago, John has recently put together a wonderful presentation revolving around the scientific history of NASA's manned and unmanned space exploration. John has spoken to our group a couple times in the past and we are always excited to have him back! Sunday, February 10th 2:00pm to 3:30pm Philadelphia Free Library Skyline Room, 4th Floor 1901 Vine Street in Philadelphia, PA

  • Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn - What We Learned

    Parkway Central Library (Free Library of Philadelphia)

    Greetings Space-friend, Our local Planetary Society group has had a busy Fall so far and it's continuing with yet another event, in less than two weeks! On Saturday, November 17th at the Free Library of Philadelphia, NASA JPL Ambassador John Conrad will give us the rundown on what was learned from the Cassini mission. John gave a lecture for TPS Philly back in February, and it was so excellent that we knew we'd have to convince him to return. Well, return he has, and he'll be illuminating one of the most stunning missions to ever glide through the cosmos: Cassini. The Cassini-Huygens probe arrived to Saturn in 2004. In 2017, having completed it missions investigating the gas giant & moons, Cassini was famously plunged into Saturn's atmosphere, igniting in a final blaze of glory. John's talk will mainly cover what we've learned about Saturn and its moons over the 13 year span of Cassini orbiting Saturn. We usually go to the Whole Foods on 22nd afterwards to eat, hang out and chat so feel free to join us whether you’re a Society member or not!

  • Martian Greenhouse Tour!

    Villanova University

    As some of you may remember, Dr. Edward Guinan (an astrophysicist from Villanova University) came and spoke to our local Planetary Society group last December. He delivered an excellent talk on exoplanets, and on his personal research efforts in the discovery and characterization of Proxima Centauri C, which is the nearest habitable-zone exoplanet to our solar system. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear his expertise on the subject and we feel fortunate to have him as a supporter and contributor of our local group. Dr. Guinan is also heavily involved in the biology department at Villanova. He currently teaches courses on astrobiology, and he and his team are exploring growing various types of plants in a simulated Martian environment — a Martian greenhouse laboratory. Dr. Guinan has graciously invited our local TPS members to his laboratory at Villanova to see their facilities and learn firsthand about his research on growing various types of plants under simulated Martian environmental conditions with various soil supplements. Such research is important if humans are to one day live on Mars. The event will take place in the Dept. of Astronomy, on the fourth floor of the Mendel Science Building. Starting at 11:00 a.m. we will have a tour of the astronomy facilities and telescopes at Villanova, followed by lunch and refreshments graciously provided to us by the astronomy department. Then we’ll visit the Martian greenhouse laboratory and proceed to the department’s seminar room to hear a 45-minute presentation with Q&A by Dr. Guinan and his team on their research.

  • Space Weather

    Parkway Central Library (Free Library of Philadelphia)

    This Fall we are excited to kick things off with Drew Anderson from West Chester University, who will deliver a talk on Space Weather. Synopsis of Presentation: We have weather on Earth because of the sun, but did you know that the sun causes weather in space? That space weather can even affect your everyday life. The next time your GPS malfunctions or you have a power outage, could it be because of something out of this world? We'll talk about it in this entertaining and energetic presentation. We'll also find out what causes the Northern Lights and why we can sometimes see them in PA. You'll hear why NASA sent up a lot of new technology to monitor space weather over the past few years, and you'll leave the talk understanding how the inside of the sun works! Bio for Drew: Would it come as a surprise if we talk you that our talk on space weather is coming from a meteorologist? No, not a guy who studies meteors, but a guy who talks a lot about weather. Meteorologist Drew Anderson is usually on TV in northeastern or central PA talking about rain and sun, but he has also had some pretty cool space opportunities over the years. NASA recognized his excellence in social media innovation and invited him to Cape Canaveral for exclusive behind-the-scenes access to a rocket launch. Beside TV, Meteorologist Drew Anderson is an award winning professor at some of our local colleges. He currently teaches Earth science classes at Penn State Lehigh Valley and West Chester University. Following the presentation, several of us will also be grabbing a bite to eat at the Whole Foods Market behind the library on Pennsylvania Avenue. Feel free to join us as we keep the discussion going!

  • Superfluid Dark Matter

    Parkway Central Library (Free Library of Philadelphia)

    This June we are excited to host Justin Khoury of UPenn's Physics & Astronomy Department, who will deliver a talk on dark matter. Brief Synopsis: In this lecture, after reviewing the evidence for the existence of dark matter, Dr. Khoury will present a novel theory of superfluid dark matter. The scenario matches the predictions of the standard Lambda-Cold-Dark-Matter (LambdaCDM) model on cosmological scales while simultaneously reproducing the Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) empirical success on galactic scales. The dark matter and MOND components have a common origin, as different phases of a single underlying substance. This is achieved through the rich and well-studied physics of superfluidity. The model makes various observational predictions that distinguishes it from both LambdaCDM and standard MOND. Justin Khoury is Professor and Undergraduate Chair of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained his B.Sc. from McGill University in 1998 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University under Paul Steinhardt. Following postdoctoral fellowships at Columbia University and MIT, Justin became a Faculty Member of Perimeter Institute for theoretical Physics in 2006, before moving to the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. His awards and honors include the 2017 Buchalter Cosmology Prize, a New Initiative Research Grant from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation [masked]), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award [masked]), and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship [masked]). His research lies at the interface of particle physics and cosmology, investigating both new models of dark matter as well as novel cosmological theories of the very early universe. Room 405 Parkway Central Library, Philadelphia (Elevator to the 4th floor is at the back-right of the entrance hallway) (Metered parking is available in front and on the sides of the library. Pay at the green kiosk)

  • Humans to Mars Summit

    The George Washington University

    Hey TPS Philly, The Humans to Mars Summit will be much more open ended since it's out of town and a multi-day event. The Planetary Society does have a good track record of providing volunteers for the event, so feel free to sign up at the link below! https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeXFbUu-sP5PkwzCYSljRlz2sdsLZE7Ub5HFO2uaAbNJLoWUw/viewform Please email [masked] if you have any questions, or want to know what others are doing as far as carpooling, meals..... The official website of the organization hosting the event is: https://h2m.exploremars.org/

  • Witnessing the Birth of the First Stars and Galaxies Using Radio Waves

    Parkway Central Library (Free Library of Philadelphia)

    Coming up in May, we are hosting James Aguirre of UPenn's Physics & Astronomy Department, who will deliver a talk on radio waves. Brief Synopsis: Before the first galaxies formed, almost the only light in the universe was the leftover glow from the Big Bang. Yet throughout the universe, hydrogen atoms beginning to gravitationally attract and were on the path to forming the first stars and galaxies. These atoms emit a faint glow that we can hope to see today and discover the signs of the first luminous objects. Dr. Aguirre will discuss how this works and a new telescope that is being built in South Africa to detect this faint radio glow. James Aguirre is an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been since 2008. He received undergraduate degrees from the Georgia Tech in physics and applied mathematics, and his PhD from the University of Chicago in physics. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Jansky Fellow of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory before coming to Penn. His recent research has largely focused on detecting the first galaxies using radio waves emitted by hydrogen atoms. This with custom telescopes built in South Africa, including one currently under construction which will reach the size of 10 football fields by the end of 2019. Room 405 Parkway Central Library, Philadelphia (Elevator to the 4th floor is at the back-right of the entrance hallway) (Metered parking is available in the front and on the sides of the library. Pay at the green kiosk)