An illustrated presentation by George Silvas, American Association of Variable Star Observers
Some stars vary noticeably in brightness. There are several causes for the brightening and dimming cycle, which can last for days, months or years, depending upon the star. One of the most dramatic changes in brightness occurs when a giant star explodes, flaring up to outshine the entire galaxy in which it resides for several days. Astronomers are particularly interested in these supernova explosions. For examples, certain types of supernovae can be used to determine the distances of very remote galaxies, and help to measure the expansion rate of the universe. Also, analysis of the light from the explosion can indicate what heavy elements are blasted outwards into the giant clouds of dust and gas from which new stars and planets form. Mr. Silvis will discuss ways in which amateur astronomers can contribute to the study of supernova explosions. He will also talk about how amateurs can connect to other professional efforts, with a list of resources and organizations to investigate.
George Silvis is a member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers and a participant in the Super Nova Early Warning System (SNEWS).
The St. Louis Astronomical Society is an organization for individuals interested in astronomy and telescopes. The public is invited to attend its meetings, telescope observing sessions, and special events. For more information about Astronomical Society events, please visit www.slasonline.org or call 314-962-9231. The event, cosponsored by NASA's Missouri Space Grant Symposium at Washington University in St. Louis, is open to the public free of charge.
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