Jan. 10, 2019

'Embrace outer space' by learning more about latest research

Experts from Faculty of Science share knowledge about space weather, radio astronomy, gravitational waves and other cool stuff this weekend
Huddled next to a frozen lake in the Northwest Territories, the Faculty of Science-led team from the Faculty of Science

If you happened to be out and about last Friday night — perhaps in the country, somewhere outside the glare of the lights of the city — you may have had the opportunity to experience a rather phenomenal experience in the night sky.

The Quantratids, marked by hundreds of meteors streaking across the night sky in a short period of time, was the first major display of meteor activity for the year; it peaked on that evening. Lesser known than the Perseids or the Geminids, the meteors of the Quantratid are not as bright as some others, yet they can clearly be seen with the naked eye.

Something else happened that night as well. Around 9 p.m., the Aurora Borealis (commonly referred to as the Northern Lights) put on a brief but very vibrant display. In the days following the light show, social media was abuzz with images captured by professional photographers and amateur sky watchers alike.  The combination of the meteor streaks and the colourful glow of the Aurora made for some truly impressive images.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to catch the events yourself, UCalgary experts who research these phenomena and the world of space are sharing their knowledge in different venues in the next few days.

Schulich School of Engineering undergrad Kirsten Arnason, left, with Eric Donovan and Emma Spanswick

Erin Guiltenane, Faculty of Science

Tonight, Telus Spark features Embrace Outer Space, an evening for adults only that showcases four University of Calgary Faculty of Science experts as they discuss their research areas:

  • Dr. Christoph Simon, PhD, Quantum Science in Space
  • Dr. Jo-anne Brown, PhD, Radio Astronomy
  • Dr. Phil Langill, PhD, Gravitational Waves
  • Dr. Emma Spanswick, PhD, Space Weather Research

Then, on Sunday evening, Spanswick, Dr. Eric Donovan, PhD, and Dr. Chris Cully, PhD, will be featured in a segment on the Aurora Borealis on CBC’s the Nature of Things. Last spring, the UCalgary team headed to the Northwest Territories to work on a range of experiments, with a goal of answering some of the biggest mysteries about the lights. The program highlights their efforts.

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