The Latest Results From Kepler - Foothill College Lecture Series

Two Upcoming Astronomy Lectures at Foothill College
Dear Astronomy Enthusiast:

I am delighted to report that the renovation work on Foothill College's Smithwick Theater is done, and we will resume the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures this fall. We're planning six exciting Wednesday evening lectures in 2012–2013, starting with the one described below. (That is, of course, if the world doesn't end on the winter solstice of 2012, as so many tabloid TV shows are claiming. But somehow I am confident that we'll still be meeting in 2013 :-)!)

I have also included notice below of a little talk I am giving the week before in case you know someone looking for an evening distraction from the political ads on TV.

See you at one of these events,

Andrew Fraknoi
Foothill's Astronomy Professor

The Latest Results from Kepler; Presentation Kicks Off 13th Year of Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series
As part of the 13th annual Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series, Natalie Batalha, Ph.D., mission scientist for NASA’s Kepler Project, will discuss Finding the Next Earth: The Latest Results from Kepler, an illustrated, non-technical lecture, Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking. Parking is $3; purchase permit from dispenser in any student lot.

With the launch of NASA's Kepler spacecraft in 2009, humanity's quest to find planets orbiting other stars took a great leap forward. Dr. Batalha will describe the techniques used by the Kepler team to identify Earth-size planets and update the audience on the remarkable progress they are making. She will discuss the planets already found (including one like Tatooine in Star Wars, with two suns in the sky), and share what we know so far about the thousands of candidate planets that are in the Kepler data (planets ranging from one-half the size of Earth to twice the size of Jupiter).

A research astronomer at NASA Ames Research Center, Batalha holds a doctorate in astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz. She started her career studying young, sun-like stars. Inspired by the growing number of exoplanet discoveries, she joined the team at Ames working on the emerging technology for finding planets by measuring the tiny decrease in light when a planet moves across the face of its sun. Twelve years later, she stands poised with the Kepler team to make discoveries that, until recently, have been in the realm of science fiction, but are now becoming our scientific reality.

The free lecture series is sponsored by the Foothill College Astronomy Program, NASA Ames Research Center, SETI Institute and Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Past lectures from the series are available online at www.astrosociety.org/education/podcast/index.html.

Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Foothill College is located off I-280 on El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills. For more information, access www.foothill.edu or call (650) 949-7888.

From the Peninsula Astronomical Society: Fraknoi Presents Free Astronomy Tourist Lecture Oct. 12
Astronomer and popular lecturer Andrew Fraknoi will give an illustrated non-technical talk on The Top Tourist Sights of the Solar System at the monthly meeting of the Peninsula Astronomical Society Friday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m., in Room 5015 at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free and the public is invited. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is $3; purchase permit from dispenser in any student lot. Parking lots 5 and 6 provide closest access to Room 5015 (please do not park in staff parking; citations are issued).

Subtitled Where Bill Gates' Great-Granddaughter Will Go on Her Honeymoon, Fraknoi's talk will use spectacular images from space probes and the world's largest telescopes to explore the most intriguing future tourist destinations among local planets and moons. Stops include the 4,000-mile lava channel on Venus, the towering Mount Olympus volcano on Mars (three times the height of Mount Everest), the awesome Verona Cliffs on the moon Miranda (which are the tallest lovers leap in the solar system), and the recently discovered steam geysers on one of Saturn's moons. No background in science is assumed and kids age 12 and older are welcome.

Fraknoi is the chairman of the Foothill College Astronomy Department, where he teaches classes on astronomy for poets. Named the California Professor of the Year in 2007, he has received several national awards for his work in explaining space science. His children's book, Disney's Wonderful World of Space, came out in a paperbound edition in 2009. He appears regularly on local and national radio explaining astronomy developments in everyday language. He currently serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees of the nonprofit SETI Institute, devoted to the search for life elsewhere in the universe. Asteroid 4859 has been named Asteroid Fraknoi by the International Astronomical Union in recognition of his educational work.

Foothill College is located off I-280 on El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills. For additional information, access www.foothill.edu or www.pastro.org.

Please pass this information on to others who may also be interested.

Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022-4599 • (650) 949-7777