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The Invisible Universe: Astronomy with Light That We Can’t See

April 17 @ 7:00 pm EDT

Did you know that the night sky is alive with all kinds of light that we can’t see?  Radio waves, ultraviolet light, gamma rays, infrared light, microwaves, and x-rays are all used by astronomers.  But wait—doesn’t the greenhouse effect absorb infrared?  And doesn’t the ozone layer block ultraviolet?  How can these reach us?  And don’t x-rays pass through everything?  How do we focus or detect them?  And haven’t humans filled the whole sky with radio waves?  How can we find faint astronomical signals with all that background noise?  And most important:  what can all these different kinds of light tell us that visible light simply can’t?  Join me and the MSU-St. Andrews STEM Center by Zoom to learn more!

Adults and families with school-age and older children are invited to join MSU-St. Andrews virtually for a presentation on the astounding world of invisible light.  We will tell the amazing stories of how each of these different kinds of light was first discovered, what types of space objects emit them, and how we are able to detect them.  We will describe the advantages and disadvantages of each, and—perhaps most importantly—how astronomers use each of them to observe the invisible universe.  We will have lots of images for each kind of light, often revealing spectacular finds when visible light shows absolutely nothing.  And, along the way, we will gain some insight into what light actually is at a fundamental level.

Plus, we will also talk about what we actually can see, with ordinary visible light, in the beautiful nighttime skies of April and early May.  We can still use parts of the brilliant Winter Hexagon to identify several constellations, but now the spring landmarks of Leo and Boötes are taking over to show us new constellations, like mighty Hydra, the largest in the sky!  Jupiter still dominates the evening sky, but Mars and Saturn are rising higher in the morning sky, and they are lining up to point at Mercury, which will be joining them this month!  There’s even a meteor shower!  We will show you how to find all these things (and more) for yourself.

Presentation (virtual only) on Wednesday, April 17, 7:00 PM.

Register now to receive the Zoom login. You may register at anytime including after the start of the presentation.


Time allowed for live Q & A throughout the event. ASL Interpretation featured during the event.


April 17
7:00 pm EDT
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