Public Star Night – Friday, February 16, 2024
Little Thompson Observatory
Doors Open: 7:00 | Guest Speaker: 7:30-8:30 | Observing at LTO: 8:30-10:00
State of Astronomy in the Mulit-Wavelength, Multi-Messenger Era
A special presentation by
Dr. John Bally
Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
John Bally was born in Hungary and emigrated to the United States when he was 9 years old. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley and obtained his PhD at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, earning his PhD in millimeter-wave radio astronomy in 1980.
He joined AT&T Bell Laboratories for 11 years as a Member of Technical Staff, working in the Radio Physics Research Department at Crawford Hill in Holmdel NJ in the group that discovered the Cosmic Microwave Background. He studied interstellar molecular clouds, the outflows and jets produced by forming stars, built sensitive mm-wavelength receivers, and worked on high-bandwidth, free-space optical communications, and atmospheric propagation characteristics. He participated in several expeditions to the South Pole in Antarctica to help set-up the first permanent astronomical observatory on that continent. His work helped to characterize the “astro-climate” at the Pole.
Since 1991, he has been a professor of astrophysics in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He uses many of the world’s major observatories such as the Hubble, the facilities of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) which is the most ambitious ground-based telescope ever built.
His researches the formation of stars and planetary systems, and the dense, dusty, gas clouds currently forming clusters of stars. He studies the extreme conditions in the Central Molecular Zone of the Milky Way which hosts a super-massive black hole. He studies collimated jets and shocks powered by accreting young stars and the feedback mechanisms in the self-regulation of star formation which drives the “Galactic ecology” – the cycling of atoms from the interstellar medium into stars, and from stars back into the interstellar medium. Recently, he has concentrated on massive stars, investigating their violent birth and demise. He is investigating explosive outflows formed by stellar collisions in dense clusters such as the event that occurred behind the Orion Nebula ~550 years ago (that’s when the signal would have reached Earth). He worked on the study of infrared transients in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies.
He has re-kindled his interests in cosmology and is exploring the hypothesis of “cosmic natural selection” in which black holes produce new universes. Recently, he has been investigating the limits placed on various types of dark matter.
John Bally is an avid skier, and owns a home in Breckenridge, CO where he operates a small observatory used to take deep wide-field images. The observatory was recently upgraded and hosts a PlaneWave CDK20 20” telescope and a Celestron RASA11 astrograph on a PlaneWave L-500 mount.
Following the talk by Dr. Bally, the observatory will be open for public viewing through our telescopes, weather permitting.