Songs of the Stars: the real Music of the Spheres

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Prof. D. W. Kurtz -

We humans are intensely visual creatures. For us “seeing is believing.” But there are other ways to know the world and universe. For example, for many species of bats “hearing is believing”. 2500 years ago the Pythagoreans believed in a celestial Music of the Spheres, an idea that reverberated down the millennia in Western music, literature, art and science. We now know that there is a real music of the spheres: The stars have sounds in them that we can use to see right to their very cores.


This multi-media lecture looks at the relationship of music to stellar sounds. You will hear the real sounds of the stars (with a key change and many changes of octave, of course) and you will even hear musical compositions where every member of the orchestra is a real (astronomical) star. You will learn about the latest discoveries using stellar sounds and vibrations, including stars that are giant diamonds the size of the Earth, and a class of the most peculiar stars in the sky that were discovered by the lecturer. You will even hear how stellar sounds are involved in the discovery of new planets outside the solar system. The talk will finish with results from the NASA Kepler Space Mission t o search for Earth-sized planets, and see to the hearts of the stars with unprecedented precision by “listening” to the real Music of the Spheres.

Don Kurtz was born in 1948 and raised in San Diego, California, of an American Father and Canadian mother. After completing his PhD in astronomy at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1976, he went to Cape Town for one year and left 25 years later as Professor of Astronomy.  He is now Professor at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK and a British citizen. He discovered a new class of pulsating, strongly magnetic stars, has been President of the International Astronomical Union Commission on Variable Stars, and sits on the boards of many international astronomical projects. He has spent more than 1500 nights at the telescope, observes with some of the world’s largest telescopes, has over 330 professional publications and is co-author of a definitive first book on a new field of astronomical research: Asteroseismology