The Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park hosts Open Houses at the UMD Observatory on the 5th and the 20th of every month. On Open House evenings a guest speaker will give approximately a half hour talk about a topic in astronomy. The talk is followed by viewing of celestial objects through the observatory's telescopes, weather permitting. If weather does not permit viewing, the talk will still go on as scheduled.

Upcoming Speakers

(download a copy of the Summer 2003 Speaker schedule)

  • Monday, May 5, 9:00 pm
    Elizabeth Warner on "The Summer Sky"

  • Tuesday, May 20, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Dennis Wellnitz on "NASA Discovery Mission Deep Impact Status Report"

  • Thursday, June 5, 9:00 pm
    Grace Deming on "Express Ticket to Mars"

  • Friday, June 20, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Doug Hamilton on "Mars!"

  • Saturday, July 5, 9:00 pm
    Elizabeth Warner on "Photographing Mars"

  • Sunday, July 20, 9:00 pm
    Kelly Fast on "Which way does the wind blow on Titan?"

  • Tuesday, August 5, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Kevin Rauch on "Chaos in our Backyard"

  • Wednesday, August 20, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Derek Richardson on "Using Earth's Tides to Make Asteroid Moons"

    Asst. Prof Richardson and his students Zoe Leinhardt and Kevin Walsh are studying how tidal disruption of weak asteroids could explain how binaries form among the near-Earth asteroid (NEA) population. They find that a wide variety of outcomes are possible, from small to large companions, circular to elliptical orbits, and spheroidal to ellipsoidal shapes, depending on the close-approach distance and encounter speed of the progenitor with a terrestrial planet like the Earth. A similar process created the spectacular Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragment train (scroll down to Tidal Disruption). Click on the snapshot to see an MPEG movie (1.1 MB) showing the formation of an asteroid binary by tidal disruption. In the movie, the camera is fixed above the asteroid as it swings by the Earth (the planet passes by on the left but cannot be seen in this view). The particles that make up the asteroid have been raytraced to make the bodies look more "realistic". For more information about these experiments, see the researchers' Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 2002 conference proceedings submission (200K PDF). Stay tuned for more results from this group!



Get a sneak peek at our Fall 2003 schedule!