What proved that gravity exists outside our solar system? What is required for a dead star to completely blow itself to bits, leaving nothing behind? What is necessary to independently determine the mass of a star? What causes the brightest explosions of stars? What do we use to determine the distance to distant galaxies? What must be present for a helium white dwarf to form? What must we have for a star to suddenly brighten—up to a million times brighter than it used to be—and then flare up again, over and over? What allowed us to find the very first black hole ever discovered? What was further needed to prove that this was, in fact, an actual black hole and not something else? Incredibly, the answer to all of these questions is exactly the same: double stars! Want to hear more about them? Or about what the planets, constellations, and meteors are doing in December? Join us via Zoom to learn more!
Please register to receive the Zoom login. You may register up to the presentation start time or even during the meeting to join us.
Time allowed for live Q & A throughout the event. ASL Interpretation featured during the event.
We will chronicle double stars from their discovery to modern studies involving satellite images and spectroscopic observations. We will also broaden our discussion to include larger star groupings like multiple stars, small open clusters with hundreds or thousands of stars, and even globular clusters with millions of stars. We will also describe how such systems are formed, and how long they live.
Along the way, we will explain how each of the statements in the previous paragraph is true. Finally, our monthly technology update will detail some of the special satellites that astronomers use specifically to study star positions, and we’ll even point out a few double and multiple stars that you can see for yourself with a small telescope, or binoculars, or even your unaided eye.
Speaking of things that you can observe for yourself, we will show you how to find many fun things that are in the sky in December and into early January. Did you know that December is the best time of the entire year to see the circumpolar constellations all year long? Were you aware that Venus is at its peak brilliance right now, and won’t be this bright in the evening again until 2023? And that Jupiter and Saturn are right in line with it? Are you ready for the best meteor shower of the year? We will help you find all of these things for yourself.
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Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services, and activities. Accommodation for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting (517) 432-4499. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.
Programming is made possible through the support of several local organizations: the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, and the Dow Chemical Company Foundation.