Public Star Night 15 April 2016 – Dr Travis Metcalfe – “Searching for planets around other stars”

Our guest speaker for Friday April 15, 2016 will be Dr Travis Metcalfe from the Space Science Institute. The title of his talk will be “Searching for planets around other stars”

The past two decades have witnessed accelerating progress on one of the most fundamental questions in
astronomy: Are we alone in the Universe? Astronomers have already discovered hundreds of
planets around distant stars. Some of them are smaller than the Earth and orbit in the “habitable zone” of their parent star where liquid water can exist. It remains to be seen whether biological signatures of life or evidence of radio communications can be found in these planetary systems.
Our current emphasis is to determine how common such planets might be, to find as many of them as possible, and to characterize those which have already been discovered. I will give an overview of how astronomers search for planets around distant stars, and implications of recent discoveries for the chances of life in the Galaxy.

Travis Metcalfe is a researcher and science communicator based in Boulder. His interest in astronomy began in the back yard of his family home on the Oregon coast. He received a BS in Astronomy & Physics from the University of Arizona and a PhD from the University of Texas-Austin. He worked at NCAR in Boulder for 8 years before moving to Space Science Institute in 2012.

The observatory doors will open at 7:00 pm and the presentation will start at 7:30 pm.
Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through our large
telescope at various celestial objects. Public star nights are held the third Friday of each
month, except July, when we are closed for annual maintenance. No reservations are
necessary for these nights. Just come and join us for the talk and some observing afterward.

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