Friends of the RAS (only) Lecture: Planets and Pulsations: The New Keplerian Revolution

Start Date
End Date
Friends of the RAS (only) Lecture: Thursday, 27th April at 1 pm, Royal Astronomical Society Lecture Theatre (no booking required)
Planets and Pulsations: The New Keplerian Revolution
Professor Don Kurtz (University of Central Lancs) One of the biggest questions humans can ask is, "Are we alone?" Does Earth harbour the only life in the universe? Everyone has an opinion on this question, but as scientists, we want to know. A first step is to find other planets like the Earth, planets with rocky surfaces and liquid water where conditions are similar to home. The Kepler Space Mission has done this. With the discovery of nearly 5000 planets orbiting other stars Kepler has revolutionised our view. It has found entire solar systems orbiting other stars and it has even found planets orbiting double stars: Yes, Luke Skywalker's fictional home planet Tatooine really does exist out there. The Kepler mission measured the brightnesses of 200,000 stars for four years, giving us a view of the stars 100 times more precise than is possible from the ground. From this a jewel box, exotic stars have been discovered, and astrophysics that used to be purely theoretical is now also observational. This talk introduces the concepts of asteroseismology and shows a selection of exciting results from the Kepler mission in a multi-media performance of science, animations and the physics of music and the stars. The speaker is a co-author of the fundamental textbook, "Asteroseismology" and Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society. Don Kurtz was born in San Diego, California, to an American father and Canadian mother. He obtained his PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976, then spent 24 years in South Africa at the University of Cape Town, where he was Professor and Life Fellow. Don has dual British and American citizenship and has been Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire since 2001. He is a Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society and serves on many international committees. He is frequently invited to speak internationally to both professional astronomers and to the public. Don observes with some of the largest telescopes in the world, has over 2000 nights at the telescope, and nearly 500 professional publications. He is the discoverer of a class of pulsating, magnetic stars that are the most peculiar stars known, and co-author of the 866-page fundamental textbook, "Asteroseismology". He is an outdoorsman and has travelled widely. Don enthusiastically gives up to 50 public lectures per year to diverse audiences all over the world on a wide range of topics. He is a regular guest on BBC Radio Lancashire and has appeared in prime time on the BBC's "Stargazing Live" with Dara O'Briain on the "Sky at Night" with Patrick Moore, and on the BBC One Show. The lecture will be followed by a wine reception in the RAS Library.