- This event has passed.
Balloon Astronomy from Antarctica
February 14, 2014 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pmFREE
The Chicago Astronomical Society‘s monthly meetings are open to all who are interested. The February meeting will feature Balloon Astronomy from Antarctica: Studying the Birth of Stars from the Stratosphere with Dr. Laura Fissel,Northwestern University.
Our atmosphere, which protects us from harmful radiation and makes the Earth habitable, can make observing the cosmos difficult because the atmosphere almost completely blocks out certain colors, such as infrared light, which is crucial to understanding how stars are formed. Satellite telescopes such as Hubble, Herschel and Planck resolve this issue by being above Earth’s atmosphere but building and launching a space telescope is very expensive. Dr. Laura Fissel will discuss a less expensive way to get a telescope above most of the atmosphere to collect information: balloon astronomy. Using enormous helium balloons, telescopes that are several thousand pounds can be launched up to altitudes of over 120,000 feet . Dr. Fissel will describe our adventures launching the BLASTPol telescope from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Results from BLASTPol will be used to try to understand why stars are produced at a much slower rate than expected, and whether magnetic fields may be responsible for this slower “birthrate” of stars. She will also share some the challenges and opportunities that balloon astronomy provides the scientific community.