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. Starred talks are those that are likely to be kid-friendly.

Upcoming Speakers

  • Sunday, May 5, 8:15 and 9:00 pm
    Dr. Marc Pound on "Not Stars" *

  • Monday, May 20, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Jim Stone on "The Sun's Magnetic Field" *

  • Wednesday, June 5, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Neal Turner on "How Stars Form"

  • Thursday, June 20, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Ed Schmahl on "X-Rays and Gamma Rays on the Sun"

  • Friday, July 5, 9:00 pm
    Kelly Fast on "The Problem with Mars" *

    Mars is an amazing and varied planet, with huge volcanos, deep canyons, polar ice caps, and an extremely thin atmosphere. Mars also has a problem. That barely-there atmosphere is made up almost entirely of carbon dioxide...but that should not be the case. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun breaks up carbon dioxide, and it is not very willing to recombine, so something up there must be playing matchmaker and putting the carbon dioxide back together again. Is there a solution to the problem with Mars?

    Kelly Fast is a University of Maryland astronomy graduate student and a NASA employee through the NASA Cooperative Education Program. She received her M.S. from UMD in 1993 and continued to represent the University at the Goddard Space Flight Center, working with high resolution spectra of the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, and Titan. She is now studying spectra of the Martian atmosphere as part of her dissertation work to help address the problem with Mars.

  • Saturday, July 20, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Eve Ostriker on "Fasten Your Seatbelts! The Bumpy Ride to Star Formation" *

  • Monday, August 5, 9:00 pm
    Fred Berendse on "Looking at Other Wavelengths: A Survey of Astronomy Observatories from Radio to Gamma Rays" *

    Have you ever wondered if there's more to something than meets the eye? Well, when it comes to looking up at the night sky, there is! Celestial objects ranging from stars to galaxies to quasars to x-ray binaries all emit electromagnetic radiation that is invisible to our eyes. I will discuss the various observatories and observing techniques used to observe celestial objects emitting radio waves at long wavelengths to gamma rays at very short wavelengths.

    Fred received his B.S. degree in Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland. His doctoral dissertation is entitled, "Cosmic-Ray Acceleration in Shell-Type Supernova Remnants and Grazing-Incidence Multilayer X-Ray Mirrors," and is being completed at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center under the direction of Drs. R. Petre and P.J. Serlemitsos.

  • Tuesday, August 20, 9:00 pm
    Dr. Kevin Rauch on "Gravity, From Here to Eternity"

    Of all the forces of Nature, gravity is the only one whose effects are as pronounced in our daily lives as they are in the universe at large (and everywhere in between). Though seemingly commonplace, it continues to amaze us with its complexity; the presence of massive black holes in the centers of galaxies (even our own Milky Way), the apparently accelerating expansion of the universe, and the chaotic motion of planets in our own Solar System are some recent examples of gravity acting unlike anything we would have guessed from watching apples fall from trees. This talk will explore some of these bizarre manifestations of gravity, and their role in shaping our understanding of it.

    I am a research associate in the Laboratory for Millimeter-Wave Astronomy and spend most of my time on software/instrument development for the CARMA radio telescope array. My research interests include black holes, galaxy dynamics, gravitational lensing, and numerical techniques. I received an A.B. in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University, and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the California Institute of Technology.

  • Thursday, September 5, 9:00 pm
    Grace Deming on "Have you seen the Milky Way?" *

    With the invention of electricity, fewer and fewer people have experienced the beauty of a truly dark sky with the Milky Way arching overhead. Summer and fall are good times to look for the Milky Way from locations away from city lights. What is this hazy, cloudy band that stretches across the sky? Since the time of Galileo, telescopes have revealed that the Milky Way's glow comes from millions of distant stars. Find out how modern astronomers explain the abundance of stars in the Milky Way's direction.

    Grace Deming is a member of the teaching faculty at the University of Maryland's Astronomy Department. She has been teaching undergraduate astronomy classes for non-science majors for more than 25 years. Her work in astronomy education research has contributed to the development of a reliable diagnostic test aimed at helping astronomy professors identify misconceptions college students hold that can interfere with learning astronomy.

Get a sneak peek at our Fall/Winter 2002 schedule!