Bullitt Lecture in Astronomy 2008
The Star Cities of the Milky Way
Kirkwood Professor and Astronomy Dept. Chair, Indiana University
As we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope in 1608, and, next year, the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of the telescope to study the celestial sphere, we can also celebrate the star cities of the Milky Way - the glorious globular star clusters that surround our galaxy. Just as the telescopes of the 17th century opened the sky for discoveries of star clusters and nebulae, 21st century telescopes take us to explore the origin and evolution of globular star clusters in our galaxy, and in galaxies far away. Globular clusters offer a glimpse of early star formation in the Universe, and of the origin of the basic elements of the periodic table. Some globular clusters harbor black holes, while others may be the remnants of galaxies shredded by the tidal forces of the Milky Way. And above all, the globular clusters are magnificent sentinels in the night sky, shining with the power of hundred thousand suns.
The 2008 lecture will be on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 7:00pm in the Planetarium. The speaker will be Caty Pilachowski, the Kirkwood Professor and Astronomy Dept. Chair at Indiana University. Previously, she was on staff at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) for 22 years, finishing as Deputy Director of the U.S. Gemini (twin 8 meter telescope) Program. She is a past President of the American Astronomical Society, has served on a number of national and international panels, and is an recognized expert on globular clusters.
The Physics & Astronomy Department’s Bullitt Lecture is a free lecture aimed at the general public. Since 2001, the Physics & Astronomy Department’s Bullitt Lecture has presented a distinguished astrophysicist to a Louisville audience in the Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium. Gale Christianson, Hubble's biographer at Indiana State, Fred Espinak, an eclipse expert at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, James Kaler, a stellar astrophysicist at U. Illinois, and cosmologists Fang Li Zhi of Arizona, J. Richard Gott of Princeton and Alan Dressler of the Carnegie Observatories have been previous Bullitt Lecturers.
College and high school students, teachers, and many others from the community interested in the impact and excitement that astrophysics has generated have attended Bullitt Lectures in large numbers. Everyone is welcome!
The Lecture is endowed through a grant from the family of William Marshall Bullitt, the Solicitor General of the United States under President William Howard Taft.