Monthly Observatory Nights
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge
sponsors free programs for the general public on the third
Thursday of every month throughout the year. The
"Observatory Nights" feature a nontechnical lecture and
telescopic observing from the observatory roof if weather
The lectures are intended for high school age and older
audiences but children are also welcome. Seating is limited and
available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 7:30
pm and programs begin at 8:00 pm. Parking is available.
"Unlocking the Secrets of Starbirth: First Results from the
Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS)"
Rene Plume, Center for Astrophysics
"What is New in The Search for Extra-terrestrial Life"
Robert Stefanik, Center for Astrophysics
"The Stuff Between the Stars"
Alyssa Goodman, Center for Astrophysics
For more information, including accessibility, call the Public
Affairs Office, (617) 495-7461 or send email to
email@example.com. (Please make request for
sign-language interpretation at least two weeks prior to the
For weekly recorded astronomy information, call (617)
496-STAR or click here:
SCIENTIFIC COLLOQUIA 1999 SPRING SERIES
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
May 28, 1999
JOCELYN BELL BURNELL
OPEN UNIVERSITY(UK)/PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
"In Pursuit of Pulsars"
The discovery of pulsars, or neutron stars, in 1967 took the astronomical
community by surprise, so bizarre are these objects.
Some 30 years later we know of about a thousand of them, but the surprises
still roll in!
The radio astronomical techniques will be discussed, the
detection of pulsars described and the conundrum of the
big-but-yet-small source set out.
Signals from intelligent life elsewhere are considered and
set aside in favour of a totally new kind of star.
What do we know about them now and what have they taught us
about the extremes of physics? These objects have stretched
our understanding of the behaviour of matter at high densities,
high speeds and high fields.
They serve as extremely precise clocks against which to check
our own clocks, and with which to carry out high precision experiments.
Created in cataclysmic explosions, pulsars are a (stellar)
form of life after death. The birth, life and death of the
typical pulsar are discussed, and how some dead pulsars are
born again to yet another afterlife is explained.
One of the biggest surprises about pulsar research is that
surprises still occur - there is no sign yet of the field
settling down to a staid middle-age. Some of the startling
recent developments in the field will also be recalled.
Jodrell Bank Web site on pulsars: