Upcoming SFAA Presidio Lectures

The following are the dates, topics and speakers for the remaining 2017 SFAA Presidio Lectures:

February 21st
Brian Kruse, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
“Mars and the Human Imagination”

Mars has long been an object of intense interest in ancient and modern myths. Discover how popular culture has represented and misrepresented Mars, and find out the latest about what is known and what remains to be discovered.


March 21st
Alan Agrawal, MD
“Galileo’s Telescopes and Observations – The Great Inflection Point in the History of Science”

In 1608 Galileo significantly improved the telescope and dramatically changed our understanding of the universe and our place in it. For his series of celestial observations, he is correctly called the father of modern science.


April 18th
Roger Blandford, PhD, KIPAC Stanford
“Neutron Stars and Pulsars: The Inside Story”

Predicted in the ’30s and discovered in the ’60s, neutron stars are now known to be the result of massive star evolution. A small fraction of neutron stars are called radio pulsars, and are superb cosmic laboratories.


May 16th
Ann Marie Cody, NASA Ames, SETI Institute
“Twinkle,Twinkle, Little Star: How the Kepler Space Telescope is Revealing the Birthplaces of Planets”

How did extrasolar planets form around young stars? The Kepler Space Telescope illuminates the conditions, and K2 mission enables searches for exoplanets at ages from a few to 100 million years old. Learn about a recently discovered transiting planet around a newborn star in Scorpius.


June 20st
Nathan Whitehorn, UC Berkeley, Cosmology Group
“The Earliest and the Brightest: The Distant and High Energy Universe from the South Pole”

The extreme universe is only dimly understood. What were the first luminous objects, and how does dark matter and dark radiation affect cosmic history. Learn how the 3rd generation S. Pole Telescope, and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station provide insight into these questions.


July 18th

Imke de Pater,  UC Berkeley, Prof. Astronomy, Earth and Planetary Science
“Peering Through Jupiter’s Clouds with Keck and the VLA”

Imke de Pater is well known for her research on Jupiter and its moons, using the Keck, Gemini and VLT Telescopes. She will discuss the giant planet, and the many exciting discoveries from her long-term observations.


August 15th
Yashar Hezaveh, Stanford University
“Unveiling the Dark Universe: a Tale of Fish Tanks, Wine Glasses, and the Smallest Dark Matter Clumps”

Learn how ALMA, the world’s most sophisticated Radio Telescope, observes some of the most distant galaxies in our universe. The light rays, on their 12 billion light year journey to us, pass near other galaxies. Dark matter halos bend their trajectories, causing images to look like a fun house mirror.


September 19th
Natalie Batalha, Space Sciences, NASA
“A Planet for Goldilocks: NASA’s Search for Life Beyond the Solar System”

Not too hot, not too cold, for a world just right for life. Launched in 2009, NASA’s Kepler Space Mission is exploring planets orbiting other stars in the galaxy, to determine if Goldilocks planets abound. Dr Batalha will describe possibilities for finding inhabited environments in the future.


October 17th
Tom Abel, Kavli Institute. Director of KIPAC, Stanford
“How the First Things in the Universe Came About, and How They Ended Up Within Us”

Join us for a fascinating journey through the early universe using the latest computer animations of early star formation, supernova explosions, and the build-up of the first galaxies. The first luminous objects were massive stars that seeded the cosmos with the chemistry needed for life.


Thanksgiving week
No lecture


December 19th
Barry White, UC Berkeley SSL
“ExoComets: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t”

Using high resolution spectrographs on large aperture ground based telescopes, 15 young stars that harbor swarms of exocomets have been discovered. Comets in our solar system and and Kepler’s discovery of “Tabby’s Star” will also be discussed.