November 4, 2005December 18, 2005Meeting Report

December 2, 2005

Phil LaZier

Astronomy

Phil LaZierPhil LaZier is a keen and extremely knowledgeable amateur astronomer. He did, as promised, captivate our interest, and he did have the tools of his hobby on hand, including telescopes.

Here, in Phil's own words, is what we were told to expect:

Wonder, awe, fascination, imagination -- and that was in the fourth grade under my very favorite teacher, Miss Galloway, whom I have visited several times over the years, and still communicate with occasionally. (She was important in my choosing elementary teaching as my final career area, and I still teach fourth grade science part time as a volunteer.) I have had telescopes since age 12, and have read Astronomy magazine for decades. I also belong to the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Association, one of whose members is Dan Macholz, a world famous comet discoverer.

Astronomy is stimulating to two parts of the brain -- the beauty and awe part, and also the intellectual part. If you want interesting theory, get into black holes, string theory and gravity waves.

Using slides, we will take a trip through the universe at the speed of light. We will stop and visit planets, pulsars, nebulae, dust, colliding galaxies, globular clusters, black holes, red giants (whose diameters are almost as great as the distance from the Sun to Jupiter!), white dwarfs, neutron stars (whose remnants help create life), and more. A bit on black holes and string theory will follow.

If conditions permit, we may view Mars outside after the presentation.

Phil didn't disappoint. He put people in the mood for hearing about the universe by showing a collection of slides of stars, galaxies, planets and moons. There is a certain otherworldly beauty in the images. He gave an overview of the subject of astronomy, including the greater understanding of the true size and age of the universe that was gained in the twentieth century, beginning with the work of Edwin Hubble. He spoke on galaxies, big bang theory, dark matter, novas, pulsars, neutron stars and black holes.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, Recorder, and Bill Potts


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