Friday, January 6, 2012

Astronomy Picture of the Day Lecture

New York City has many free public events related to the sciences as well as for the arts. One of my personal favorites is the free lecture series on astronomy on the first Friday of the month.

Lecture at the American Museum of Natural History

“Best Short Astronomy Videos” - Robert Nemiroff

Friday, January 6, 2012

Robert Nemiroff, professor of physics at Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, will address the Amateur Astronomers Association on “Best Short Astronomy Videos,” Friday, January 6. The free public lecture will begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Kaufmann Theater of the American Museum of Natural History.

Nemiroff and Jerry T. Bonnell—a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center—cofounded and together run the popular Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website. One or the other has given a presentation to the club each year on the best astronomy pictures of the previous year. But this year, it’s videos. “I decided to try something different, and there have been some really cool short videos on APOD,” Nemiroff says.

Last year, APOD, which was founded in 1995, reached one million hits per day.

The APOD archive is one of the largest collections of annotated astronomical images on the Internet. It is disseminated in 16 languages.

Nemiroff’s research areas include gamma-ray bursts, gravitational lensing, cosmology, and sky monitoring. He’s placed video lectures from his classes “Introductory Astronomy” and “Extraordinary Concepts in Physics” on iTunes and elsewhere on the Internet for free.


Here are my informal directions to the Kaufmann Theater:

The American Museum of Natural History is at Central Park West and 79th Street. It covers several blocks, from 77th Street to 81st Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. To get to the Kaufmann Theater, enter the building from the south side, on 77th Street. You will see a grand arching stone stairway in the middle of the block. The south entrance is actually under that stairway. There are guards present who will ask to check your bags. From there, enter the large hallway with a giant dugout canoe in it. Turn left. You will see the "Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins" ahead of you. Walk toward the three skeletons, one of a "modern" human, one of a Neanderthal, and one of a chimpanzee. Just before you enter the Hall of Human Origins, you will see a hallway with display cases with beautiful shells. Turn right and proceed up that hallway, past the displayed shells. You will see another hallway to the left that
goes to the Kaufmann Theater. That's it!

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Here are videos that Nemiroff showed:

From APOD of February 2, 2011, "Powers of Ten". Please watch this superb video from 1968. It is wonderful.

From APOD of February 22, 2011, "Star Size Comparisons".

From APOD of March 20, 2011, "Time Lapse Auroras Over Norway". Beautiful.

From APOD of May 4, 2011, "Celestial Trails Over Greece". Lovely time-lapse sequences of the stars taken in Greece with famous landmarks in the background.

From APOD of June 1, 2011, "Earth Rotating Under Very Large Telescopes", a time-lapse video taken at the Paranal observatory in Chile, one of the most famous observatories in the world. At one point, a laser is seen; these remarkable giant telescopes utilize interferometry to achieve stable, precise images, and the laser is used in that process. Very, very cool; and very, very beautiful.

From APOD of June 13, 2011, "Views from Cassini at Saturn" is a sequence of still photographs taken by the Cassini space probe of Saturn, including Saturn's rings, and some of Saturn's moons.

From APOD of July 11, 2011: "Total Lunar Eclipse Over Tajikistan".

From APOD of August 27, 2011, "Hurricane Irene Forms".

From September 20, 2011, "Kepler-16b: A Planet with Two Suns". (This is a computer animation of what such a star system might appear, not real photography.)

From September 27, 2011, "Flying Over Planet Earth".

From October 3, 2011, "Dark Matter Movie from the Bolshoi Simulation". This is a computer simulation of what the universe might look like if we could see dark matter but normal matter were invisible.

From APOD of November 6, 2011, "Orange Sun Oozing" a time-lapse sequence showing changes in granules in the sun over a period of 54.75 minutes.

The last video was not from 2011, and is only indirectly about astronomy: "Happy People Dancing on Planet Earth"!

Please "bookmark" APOD (the Astronomy Picture of the Day). It is one of the best things on the Web, and if you look at the site regularly and read the blurbs and follow the links, you will learn a lot.