By Jesse Medina
For all of you astronomy buffs looking for some fun activities to enjoy this weekend look no further than the Adams State Zacheis Planetarium and Observatory. They are presenting an Extrasolar Planet Workshop on Friday, Nov. 13 at 7:00 p.m. and another on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1:00 p.m.
The workshop will consist of a series of lectures that focus on the presentation of stars and their lifecycles, as well as a theory on the possible evolution of the solar system as we currently know it. The lectures will be followed by a series of activities on such things as Doppler Shifts, Stellar Spectra, and movement in a solar system. The activities will be concluded with a follow up discussion on techniques used in searching for extrasolar planets and the results of those searches.
Extrasolar planets are planets outside our solar system that orbit around a star other than our sun. This would include everything outside the eight planets we are familiar with (Pluto, as of 2006, is no longer counted as a planet, so no, you didn’t miscount). They can orbit other planets or they might orbit large objects or large masses of debris. Without question a fair amount of physics is involved. To date about 400 planets have been observed with the possibility of many more looming on the horizon because, let’s face it, it’s a big universe.
The workshops are being held not at the Planetarium but the Adams State Science Activity Center which is located in the Community Partnership Building, north end, and just directly south of Richardson Hall on the Adams State Campus in Alamosa, CO. The workshops will last approximately two hours.
Dr. Randy Emmons, who is currently professor of physics, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics, as well as being the director or the Zacheis Planetarium, will be giving the lectures on the extrasolar planets. Dr. Emmons has hosted many workshops and the planetarium and is well respected by both his peers and students for making his classes interesting and relevant, so this event will prove to be both fun and educational.
The event is free to all and open to the public, though seating is limited and reservations are required for the event. Reservations can be made by emailing Dr. Randy Emmons at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Leslie at (719)587- 7256; you will need to provide you name and the number of people who are planning on attending the event.
So take some time this weekend to come and learn about the universe outside of our universe and the myriad of planets (sorry Pluto) that share this expansive galaxy with our good ol’ planet Earth. If anything, you will be able to wow your peers with your new-found knowledge of Doppler Shifts, Stellar Spectra, and solar movements.