News & Events

The Observatory is Open!

Visit our public observatory! Open from 7:00 to 9:00 PM EST -- 8:00 to 10:00 PM DST Monday thru Thursday when classes are in session.

Please call Larry DeWarf in advance if you plan to visit with a group of people. The phone number is 610.519.4820.

Spring 2015 Colloquia*

January 23

Dr. Joseph Rodriguez

Vanderbiilt University

“KELT: The Little Telescope Performing Big Science”

The Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) project is an all-sky photometric survey, operated by Vanderbilt University, Ohio State University and Lehigh University, designed to detect transiting extrasolar planets around bright stars. The survey observes over 60% of the entire sky with a cadence of 10 to 20 minutes over many years. For transit discovery, the survey is optimized for high precision (<1%) photometry for stars with 8 < V < 11, but observes stars at lower photometric precision (1% to 10%) with 7 < V < 14. The project uses two telescopes, KELT-North at Winer Observatory in Sonoita, Arizona and KELT-South at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Sutherland, South Africa, and a network of astronomers around the world for spectroscopic and photometric follow-up including the Skynet Telescope Network. KELT-North has ~9 years of observations while KELT- South has about 4 years. Currently, KELT has published four exoplanet discoveries, with several more confirmed discoveries nearing publication. The KELT survey provides photometric coverage of over 2.5 million stars, presenting the opportunity to perform multi-year studies of stellar variability. Therefore in addition to the exoplanet search, the KELT survey provides the unique combination of baseline, cadence, and sky coverage conducive to many types of stellar astrophysics research.


March 13

Dr. David Weintraub

Vanderbilt University

Exoplanets: The Pace of Discovery and The Potential Impact on Humanity

Astronomers have now discovered thousands of planets in orbit around other stars. I will briefly describe those discoveries and predict the progress astronomers are likely to make in their studies of these planets over the next fifty years, as we begin to study these planets in detail, looking for evidence for the presence or absence of life. Then we will consider the consequences of those potential discoveries. Specifically, if astronomers discover convincing evidence that life exists beyond the Earth, how will that discovery impact terrestrial religions and our understanding of our place in the universe? These ideas and speculations are the subject matter of my recently published book Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal With It? (Springer, 2014), and so I will also discuss how my work as an astronomer led me to my work on this book project.




*Unless otherwise noted, colloquia are held at 2:30 PM on Fridays in Mendel 341.  Refreshments are served at 2:15