2011 Guest Speakers

Shane Larson

Assistant Professor of Physics at Utah State University

Two Presentations:

"FROM THE BIG BANG TO TABLE MOUNTAIN: The Cosmic biography of an atom"

Everything we see around us is composed of the same fundamental building blocks -- the 94 naturally occurring chemical elements. The most abundant element in the Cosmos is hydrogen, most of which was synthesized in the Big Bang. But where did all the atoms we see around us come from? How did the original hydrogen in the Universe evolve and mutate into carbon and calcium and iron and gold and all the other elements that we can easily find by breaking open rocks and other common Earthly objects? The answer is intimately tied to the lives of the stars. They are born out of loose nebular gas and dust, burn their hydrogen fuel into heavier more complex elements, and ultimately explode in one of the most devastating cosmic events known -- a supernova -- dispersing the elements out into the Cosmos.

In this talk, we'll consider the biography of an atom, from the Big Bang to Table Mountain, and explore how the evolution and changes of a single atom can be traced and followed in the lives and deaths of stars. We can trace the lives of the stars through what can easily be seen with small telescopes and binoculars, and will navigate our way through the summer night sky to visit nebulae, star clusters, binary stars, and supernova remnants to tell our tale.

"WHISPERS FROM THE COSMOS: Listenting to gravity's hidden message"

Virtually everything we know about the Universe has been discovered from the study of photons --- light in all its myriad forms from radio waves, to visible light, to x-rays and beyond.  At the dawn of the 21st century, advanced technology is providing access to the Cosmos through detection of sub-atomic particles like cosmic rays and neutrinos, and through detection of ripples in the fabric of spacetime itself.

These ripples in spacetime, called gravitational waves, carry information not in the form of light or particles, but in the form of gravity itself.  Gravitational waves are messengers which carry the stories of what happens when two black holes collide, of how the inner core of a star destroys itself during a supernova explosion, and of how the graveyard of the galaxy is filled with the quiet whisper of binary white dwarf stars that spiral together ever so slowly as they fade into oblivion.

This talk will explore the modern description of gravity, what gravitational waves are and how we hope to measure them, and what we hope to learn from their detection.  Gravity has a story to tell, and in this talk, we'll explore some of discoveries we hope to make by listening.

Rebecca Turner American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO)
Woodruff 'Woody' Sullivan

Professor of Astronomy at University of Washington

William Herschel (1738-1822) was one of the greatest observers of all time, as well as a master optician in producing speculum (metal) mirrors and telescopes of unprecedented size, as well as an imaginative interpreter of his observations of the solar system, stars, nebulae, and the Milky Way. His fundamental discoveries include the planet Uranus, the existence of binary star systems, and infrared radiation from the sun. He also made the first quantitative attempts at determining the structure of the Milky Way and pioneered the concept of objects such as nebulae and star clusters that evolve over time.

And yet all of this began in his late 30's as a pastime in addition to his job as a successful musician and composer!

Alan Bedard

Digital-SF Observatory Foundation

Watching Stars Dance - Most of the star systems in our Galaxy are multiple star systems, having two or more stars orbiting each other. When the orbit of a white dwarf and its main sequence companion degrade until they are almost touching, some very interesting things happen. It's a cataclysmic dance of life and death, and you can see the results with even a small telescope.

Michelle Larson

Utah State University

"Probing the Stellar Graveyard: Neutron stars and other compact remnants."

The life cycle of a star yields many visual wonders, from nebula that represent both the birth place of young stars and the final moments of others, to observationally illusive compact remnants such as white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. The skies above are speckled with both young and old members of the stellar family tree, each with its own observational signature. This talk will explore the products of stellar evolution, with a particular emphasis on neutron stars and pulsars.



Speaker announcements and schedule will be posted as they are confirmed. Check back to keep up to date. Some programs may change days and/or times. This page will be kept as current as possible. Schedule will be posted on-site at TMSP and in the Event Newsletter.

Each year TMSP has had a great lineup of speakers with a wide array of topics For a sampling of the past fare, see the list of last years speakers as well a prior years listings in the Histories Sections (History section under construction - coming soon. -Ed.)

Again, bring your own chairs if you want to be assured of a place to sit.

TMSP is always accepting papers and programs for presentation on the mountain. If you are interested in providing a talk contact the Speaker Chairman.

David Levy talks to full house in 2006
David Levy addresses the crowd

Two great teachers, Stephen O'Meara (left) and Joe Rottmann in 2005
Steven James O'Meara & Joe Rottman