Lecture: 17 July “Origin and Orbital History of the Moon” by Matija Ćuk, PhD, SETI Institute

Once monthly, the SFAA hosts distinguished guest speakers who are leaders in the fields of astronomy, physics and related disciplines. The speakers present to the public and SFAA members the latest developments from cutting-edge scientific programs. The lectures are free.

Join us for informal coffee and light snacks beginning at 7:00 PM followed by the General Meeting, announcements and lecture at 7:45 PM.

17 July 2019, Wednesday, 7:45 PM, Randall Museum Theater

“Origin and Orbital History of the Moon”


Matija Ćuk, Research Scientist, SETI Institute

We think that the Moon formed in an ancient collision between the young Earth and another proto-planet. However, the standard giant impact theory predicted that the Moon should be made from the pieces of the other planet, while lunar samples suggest that lunar material is very Earth-like. I will talk about recent updates to the giant impact theory which try to explain this discrepancy. One of the major new ideas is that early Earth was spinning very fast, making it easier for debris to be ejected into orbit during the giant impact. I will present some of my own work on the orbital history of the Moon after its formation, and how Earth could have lost some of its original spin in the process.

Brief Bio
Matija Ćuk is a research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View. He obtained his college degree at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, and his PhD at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He was a postdoctoral fellow at University of British Columbia in Canada, and at Harvard University and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, both in Cambridge, MA. Ćuk specializes on modeling orbital and rotational dynamics of the Solar System objects, with the focus on planetary satellites and asteroids. He was the recipient of the 2014 Harold Urey award by the American Astronomical Society, and asteroid 5639 Ćuk is named after him.


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