Public Star Night – 21 Oct 2016 – “A Talk about ‘Nothing’” – John Ensworth

Space…the final frontier…is really the busiest stuff you’ve never heard of. In this month’s presentation, John will introduce you to the physics of empty space. Most of the universe is empty nothingness and most of every atom is empty nothingness – or are they? Might there be a mysterious ether that galaxies and planets swim in, or is there something subtler going on out there? This talk will discuss, in brief; the mind-bending concept of the curvature of spacetime, the role of virtual particles- zero-point energy and how they relate to Hawking radiation and the eventual evaporation of black holes. He’ll cover the existence of fields (like the Higgs field), and touch on the still mysterious quantities called dark matter, dark energy. Finally, it is possible that space may not even exist. It will be much ado about nothing.

John Ensworth is currently the Principle Investigator of the NASA SMD Independent Education Product Review at the IGES ( His position is the one responsible for conducting these reviews and helping with NASA education and outreach efforts.
In the 90’s Mr. Ensworth was a masters’ student and a PhD candidate in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. He earned undergraduate degrees in physics and astronomy, and geography and meteorology with an emphasis in math and computer science.

John became interested in astronomy in the 2nd grade and began to teach astronomy to cub scouts and boy scouts by the 5th grade. He worked for the Arizona State University planetarium when Halley’s Comet paid the inner solar system a visit in ‘85/’86 and taught the astronomy labs, was the head TA and eventually taught an astronomy course through the rest of the 80’s (as an undergraduate). He was awarded an internship at Steward Observatory, at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and conducted site testing for the placement of the Mt. Graham observatory complex. He also observed at the 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak, a 36” telescope at Kitt Peak, and at the Multi-Mirror Telescope (now the Mega Mirror Telescope) at Mt. Whipple.

More recently, he’s run more than 60 astronomy nights for Arizona, Oklahoma, Virginia and Colorado residents. He served an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the year 2000 and is a volunteer at the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, Colorado. He teaches math and science courses at the University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University, and Mid-American Christian University.

You can view a Webcam of his backyard observatory (Cherrywood Observatory) in Longmont, CO by searching for weather in Longmont at the Weather Underground under Webcam links or at

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 afterwards.
If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at:

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