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ASU Astronomy Club debuts new lecture series

January 10, 2012

For the past decade or so, graduate students in astronomy at Arizona State University have sponsored monthly open houses, with programs and open telescopes.

Now the newly formed ASU Astronomy Club will add to the celestial mix with a free bi-monthly lecture series, beginning Jan. 27.

The lecture, at 7 p.m., will be followed by the free open house from 8 to 10 p.m. The lecture will take place in Bateman Physical Sciences Center F-174 on ASU’s Tempe campus, while the open house will be on the roof of Bateman H Wing.

Lecturing will be Paul Scowen, an associate research professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Scowen will speak on "Star and Planet Formation Near Massive Stars: What Nebulae Can Tell Us About the Origin of the Solar System."

Scowen said, “For decades we have admired nebulae as interstellar signposts indicating where the most massive of stars had recently formed. However, such environments also represent an important part of the process of star and planet formation as the winds and radiation from those massive stars cause new stars to form nearby, but at the same time try to destroy them before they are done forming.

“This picture represents a snapshot of the early history of our Solar System as meteoritic evidence indicates our own Sun formed in such an environment. In this talk we will explore these environments with images from the Hubble Space Telescope and learn about how hard it is to make stars and planetary systems, and have them survive to tell the story.”

The forthcoming lectures, on general astronomy topics presented in a 30-45 minute colloquium format, will be aimed toward the public. Presenters will include club members, graduate students, and sometimes faculty.

“This series will be an excellent opportunity for the public to learn about cosmology, galactic evolution and environments, the birth and death of stars, extrasolar and planetary systems, black holes, telescopes and astronomy in general,” said club member and astrophysics graduate student Mark Richardson.

“By having these in the evening, we will give families the opportunity to attend together, hear an exciting presentation by an enthusiastic astronomer, and then be able to go upstairs to look through telescopes, see meteorites, enjoy a tour at the planetarium, etc.

“This will also be a great opportunity for grad students and club members to get some experience giving public lectures, and interacting with the public.”

The schedule for spring is as follows:

• Feb 10, lecture at 7 p.m.

• Feb 24, lecture at 7 p.m., open house at 8 p.m.

• March 9, lecture at 7 p.m.

• March 30, lecture at 7 p.m., open house at 8 p.m.

• April 13, lecture at 7 p.m.

• April 27, lecture at 7 p.m., open house at 8 p.m.

The Astronomy Open Houses are held from 8 to 10 p.m. on the roof of Bateman Physical Sciences Center H-Wing.

To get to the open house, go to the main entrance to the Bateman H-wing. Free parking is available after 7 p.m. in the Tyler Street Parking Garage. From the parking garage go west along the University Drive sidewalk (toward campus) until you see signs leading you to the entrance. 

For a campus map and parking information, go to, or contact Ashcraft at

For information on the lecture series, go to