Reminder: astronomy panel discussion Wednesday night at Caltech

By Phil Plait | April 20, 2010 12:00 pm

A reminder to everyone: tomorrow I moderate a really cool panel of astronomers, where we’ll be discussing the search for Earths orbiting other stars. The original post is below. You can submit questions to the panelists, too!

I am very pleased and excited to announce that I will be moderating a fascinating panel in Pasadena California on Wednesday, April 21. The topic is "The Quest for a Living World": how modern astronomy is edging closer to finding another Earth orbiting a distant star.

[Click for a higher-res version.]

The panelists are all-stars in the field: Caltech astronomy professor John Johnson, Berkeley astronomer Gibor Basri, MIT planetary astronomer Sara Seager, and NASA Ames Research Center’s Tori Hoehler. We’ll be talking about how we’re looking for these new worlds, what the state of the art is, and perhaps toss around some of the philosophy of why we’re looking for them. You might think the answer is obvious, but I’ve found that astronomers have lots of intriguing reasons for why they do the work they do.

The event is sponsored by Discover Magazine, the Thirty Meter Telescope (yes, a project to build a telescope with a 30 meter mirror!), and Caltech. It will be at 7:30 p.m. at Caltech’s Beckman auditorium. It’s also free! Send an email to if you want to attend.

We’ll be taking questions from the audience, and if you have a question you’d like to submit in advance then we have an online form where you can send it.

Last year’s panel on astronomy frontiers was a lot of fun, and very well-attended. If you’re in the LA area, then I highly recommend you come! I know you’ll have a great time, and you’ll get a taste for some of the astronomical adventures in store for us in the next couple of years.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff

Comments (13)

Links to this Post

  1. The Red Edge | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine | April 22, 2010
  1. Jess Tauber

    Well, being on the other side of the continent I won’t be able to attend- but as Phil will be there, perhaps he can ask my question- whether early solar nebulae are ever dense and warm enough, as well as enriched enough in the right elements and water, to provide stable enough environments for the start of living processes (and not just the creation of biomolecular precursor molecules). I keep thinking of ‘The Integral Trees’.

    Jess Tauber

  2. bigjohn756

    Which is it Tuesday or April 21st? Or, is the calendar,like much else, a little different in California,

  3. IBY

    Nooooo… I am on the other side of the continent. I wish I could be there. *sniff* :(

  4. TheInquisitor

    Will it be recorded? I’d love to see this but that pesky Atlantic ocean is in the way.

  5. Chris

    It’s tomorrow, Wednesday. I hope to go; I actually work for TMT as an engineer and find the science aspects just as fascinating as the ‘design and build’ (which is awesome in itself). =)

  6. locke

    Nice panel, but too bad there’s no one directly from Kepler or the Marcy group there (or Greg Laughlin). Still, it ought to be fun.

  7. locke (#6): Gibor Basri is a co-investigator on Kepler.

  8. mike burkhart

    I think one thing needs to be talked about is this question:Dose a planet have to be like Earth to have life on it? maybe Iv’e been infulenced by sci-fi but I think that there could be life on planets that are not like Earth, in fact Phills hero the late Dr Carl Sagen said he thought life on Earth evolved to adapt to Earths envorment life on another planet would have evolved to adapt to that planets envorment .In fact I think if some lifeform form some other planet that was in no way like Earth were bought to Earth it might die.

  9. llewelly

    Please let us know if a high quality audio recording of the session is made.

  10. Alex

    What are the chances of this being filmed? The last astronomy panel you moderated (at Berkeley, I think?) was awesome.

  11. Brian Too

    Has anyone else noticed that the Thirty Meter Telescope has logos, a profile, and is being branded in the marketing sense? Why is that?

    I can’t think of any other telescope that is being presented in this fashion. Gemini, Canada-France-Hawaii, Keck, Large Binocular, none of the big new scopes seem to have a deliberate public profile like TMT. Well, except for Hubble, which is off the charts famous for a scientific instrument. Hubble has name recognition like the old Hale scope.

    Is it just the size (big science aspect) and expense of these projects? Will we see more of this concerning projects like the Giant Magellan Telescope? Just wondering.

  12. Ah nuts! I just found out about this but I have class (I go to Cal State LA). Yet another reason to hate biology…oh well maybe some other time


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