IYA2009 kickoff at U.C. Berkeley

Received in email from the AANC mailing list:

—-
The International Year of Astronomy 2009
(IYA2009) is a global celebration of astronomy and its contribution to
society and culture, emphasizing education, public participation, and
the involvement of young people. The grand opening ceremony will be held
Jan. 15 and 16 in Paris at the headquarters of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

While hundreds are expected to attend the Paris event, including members
of royal families, ministers, Nobel Laureates, scientists and students,
many national and regional events also are scheduled.

UC Berkeley’s Department of Astronomy joins the international
celebration with talks on the science and history of astronomy on the
third Saturday of each month, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, including two
talks on April 18, UC Berkeley’s annual CalDay open house. Next month’s
talk, scheduled for Feb. 21, is “Black Holes: Monsters Lurking at the
Centers of Galaxies,” by theoretician Eliot Quataert, professor of
astronomy and physics. Upcoming topics include dark matter, dark energy,
the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, star birth and their
explosive deaths, the solar system, and Galileo Galilei, who first
turned a telescope on the heavens 400 years ago.

To kick off the celebration, UC Berkeley will be hosting a lecture, “The
Search for Habitable Planets and Life in the Universe” in which Geoffrey
Marcy
, UC Berkeley professor of astronomy, director of the Center for
Integrative Planetary Science, and the world’s foremost planet hunter,
will be speaking. It will take lace this Saturday, January 17th at 11
a.m in room 100 Genetics and Planet Biology Building UC Berkeley. The
building is located in the northwest corner of the campus:
http://www.berkeley.edu/map/maps/AB23.html.

For a complete list of the year’s talks and other UC Berkeley activities
planned to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, link to
http://astro.berkeley.edu/iya/. For more information on IYA2009, link to
http://www.astronomy2009.org/

Thank you,

University of California, Berkeley Astronomy Department

How science deals with *real* threats

… as opposed to 2012/Nibiru/Planet X nonsense.

Early last year some imagery of a Wolf-Rayet star, WR 104, caused some concern among scientists.   A Wolf-Rayet star is a very large, unstable type of star, and is a prime candidate for the production of Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs).   GRBs are detected all the time, but from very distant sources.  They are very, very powerful.  So powerful that if one went off nearby it would kill all life on Earth.

Not to worry, however, because in order for a GRB to be dangerous, the source would have to be pointed at us.  GRBs emanate from the poles of a rapidly spinning star, and they are collimated, just like a laser beam.  So one would have to be pointed directly at us in order for it to be dangerous.

In March 2008, scientists thought that they found one, locked and loaded, and pointed our way.  The concern was piqued due to images from the Keck telescope which appeared to show a spiral-shaped system emanating from the star, indicating that we may be looking down the pole of the axis of rotation.

One scientist working at Keck took a closer look using spectroscopic data, and announced at the AAS conference in Long Beach this past week that the star is inclined between 30 and 40 degrees (possibly as much as 45 degrees) away from us.

Read the article at Universe Today

This is how science deals with real threats, as opposed to how the fraudsters perpetrating the Nibiru hoax would like you to think.  Every day I see announcements from people studying this asteroid, or that star, and evaluating the threats.   Look at the information on 99942 Apophis for example.   So, here’s the deal.  When someone tells you that “the authorities” are keeping something like Nibiru quiet to avoid panic, an appropriate reaction is laughter.   Because we can see how science deals with threats, we analyze, announce, compare notes, and formulate plans.   We don’t hide and hope people don’t notice.

Brown Dwarves are Bashful

At the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Sergio Dieterich of Georgia State University in Atlanta that based on a study of 233 nearby multiple-star systems by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, Brown Dwarfs (objects that are too small to fuse hydrogen, but are bigger than planets) tend not to form binary pairs with ‘normal’ (hydrogen-fusing) stars.

See the press release at the HubbleSite.