UK Happenings

Look to the Stars With Kentucky SkyTalks

photo of MacAdam Student Observatory with Young Library in background
MacAdam Student Observatory

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 30, 2018) You're invited to learn about celestial objects and experience stargazing through a powerful telescope with Kentucky SkyTalks this fall semester.

The University of Kentucky Department of Physics and Astronomy and the MacAdam Student Observatory presents Kentucky SkyTalks as part of an ongoing outreach series. Each SkyTalk starts with a 40-minute presentation about astronomy followed by an opportunity to visit the observatory across the street. These presentations are free and open to the public. Visits to the observatory are weather dependent. SkyTalks begin at 7 p.m., in Room 155 Chemistry-Physics Building.

UK graduate student Amber Moore is lined up to speak at the SkyTalks as well as UK Physics and Astronomy Professor Gary Ferland. Moore will present "Supernovae: Discovery, Death, and Explosions" Thursday, Nov. 8. Ferland will present "The Star of Bethlehem" Thursday, Dec. 13.

"I believe that everyone has an innate curiosity about the universe," said Tim Knauer, manager of MacAdam Student Observatory. "For some people that curiosity can be satisfied by learning about astronomy and for others looking through a telescope. We provide both for our patrons. Additionally, it is important for the community and Commonwealth that support us to take part in the experience.

"For students, it's a far more personal and visceral experience to actually see things with their own eyes. For example, Hubble Space Telescope images are superior in every way to the views possible from Central Kentucky. Yet, I've been told by students that seeing Saturn for the first time for themselves is a life changing event."

Since the opening of UK's MacAdam Student Observatory in 2008, the observatory has served UK students and astronomy enthusiasts of every age and experience level throughout Kentucky. Located atop Parking Structure #2 on the center of UK's campus, its dome houses a high-quality 20-inch reflecting telescope and a variety of state-of-the-art optical instruments.                                                                                                                 

The first SkyTalk was hosted Nov. 12, 2009. Since that inaugural presentation, SkyTalks have covered a range of topics from black holes to planets to galaxies and stars. In April 2016, Pamela Marcum gave a presentation on Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, which is a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Prior to the August 2017 eclipse, UK Professor of Physics and Astronomy Tom Troland spoke about the total solar eclipse.