As part of a statewide celebration of astronomy in commemoration of 2009 as the official International Year of Astronomy, the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science and members of the Texas Astronomical Society in Dallas will host an evening of astronomy Saturday (May 2) featuring a free public lecture by Texas A&M University astronomer Dr. Kim-Vy Tran.
Tran, an assistant professor of astronomy in the Texas A&M Department of Physics, will present “The Great Observatories: New Windows into the Universe,” at 7 p.m.
Tickets are not required for the lecture, which will detail some of the most distant galaxies in the universe and how astronomers such as Tran use NASA’s Great Observatories – four large, powerful, space-based telescopes, including the Hubble, the Compton, the Spitzer and the Chandra – to study them. The talk will be immediately followed by a “star party,” where attendees are encouraged to explore the heavens in personal, telescopic tours offered by museum staff.
Tran’s lecture marks the fourth event in the year-long International Year of Astronomy (IYA) Texas Speakers’ Series, jointly sponsored by the astronomy programs at Texas A&M and The University of Texas to commemorate IYA, the world-wide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical use of the telescope in 1609. The series features astronomers from both universities traveling to cities across the state to present their astronomical research and related topics of interest to area audiences.
Tran, who received her doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California at Santa Cruz and Lick Observatory in 2002, joined the Texas A&M faculty in January as the most recent addition to the university’s burgeoning astronomy program. Her research focuses on understanding how galaxies form and evolve as a function of environment. By combining imaging from space-based facilities such as the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes with observations from ground-based facilities such as the Magellan and Very Large Telescopes in Chile, Tran studies galaxies over a wide range in redshift — observations that are essential in separating the “nature versus nurture” aspect of galaxy evolution.
For more information about the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science, visit http://www.natureandscience.org.
To learn more about the IYA Texas Speakers’ Series and view a calendar of upcoming events, go to http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/iya/series.
For more information on Texas A&M astronomy and outreach, visit http://astronomy.tamu.edu/.