U of G Marks Year of Astronomy with Lecture Series, Concert

February 25, 2009 - News Release

The University of Guelph will mark the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009 with public lectures and sky viewings, as well as the release of a new "star-studded" digital EP during a campus concert next month by singer/songwriter and physics professor Diane Nalini de Kerckhove.

This year was chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of a telescope.

The lecture series begins March 4 with a lecture by Jim Hunt, a physics professor emeritus. He will discuss "A Random Walk Through Ancient Astronomy," which will explore the importance of astronomy to early societies.

April 1, Debra Fischer, astronomy professor at San Francisco State University, will speak on "The Discovery of Extra-solar Planets."

Both lectures will be at 7 p.m. in Room 101 of Rozanski Hall

"The discovery of the first extra-solar planets in the 1990s was a landmark event," said de Kerckhove, co-organizer of this year's events. "It captured the imagination and really opened the public's mind to the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe."

She will perform under her stage name, Diane Nalini, March 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Rozanski Hall. The concert will launch a digital EP of astronomy-themed songs, recorded early this year in Toronto. The event is sponsored by the Office of the President.

Other Guelph IYA events include observatory viewings at the MacNaughton Building telescope during Alumni Weekend later this year. Organizers plan to promote the events to local high schools and throughout Guelph.

De Kerckhove said she hopes participants will learn not just about the night sky but also about how science works and about the personal side of early astronomers, including Galileo, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.

She adds that visitors might learn something about themselves, too. "Astronomy to me has a beautiful purity. It's about understanding how we fit into the world."

For more information, check out the website www.physics.uoguelph.ca/outreach. Concert tickets are available at the University Bookstore and Ground Floor Music.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1