News and Events

Phil Sadler Awarded IPS Technology and Innovation Award

Phil Sadler Awarded IPS Technology and Innovation Award

August 19, 2014

Phil Sadler was honored this week at the International Planetarium Society meeting in Beijing China. He received the 2014 Technology and Innovation Award.The award is given to recognize an individual or institution, “…whose technology and/or innovations in the planetarium field have been, through the years, utilized or replicated by other members and/or planetariums.” In 1977, Sadler invented the Starlab portable planetarium while a middle school math and science teacher.

Earth 2.0: NPR Radio Interview

Earth 2.0: NPR Radio Interview

August 11, 2014

"With hundreds of Earth-like planets discovered over the past few years, it’s fair to say we’re on the verge of finding alien life. Two new programs at NASA hope to find and analyze thousands more of these exoplanets, as they’re called.  Scientists working on the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite (TESS) and the James Webb Space Telescope say there’s a very real chance of finding extraterrestrial life within the next two decades. So, if we’re about to meet our extraterrestrial neighbors, let’s get to work on some opening lines. What if we’re really not alone?

 2014 Shaw Prize in Astronomy

2014 Shaw Prize in Astronomy

May 27, 2014

Harvard Astronomy Professor, Daniel Eisenstein, along with Shaun Cole and John Peacock, to receive the 2014 Shaw prize in astronomy for their contributions to the measurements of features in the large-scale structure of galaxies used to constrain the cosmological model including baryon acoustic oscillations and redshift-space distortions.

2014 Hoopes Prize and Goldberg Prize Awarded to Astrononomy Undergraduates

May 8, 2014

Alexander Krolewski, has been awarded a Hoopes Prize for the project entitled "Measuring the luminosity and black hole mass dependence of quasar-galaxy clustering at z ~ 0.8."
Natania Wolansky, has been awarded a Hoopes Prize for the project entitled "Are You There Gas?  It's Me, Planet: The Effects of Gas on Growth of Gas Giant Cores through Planetesimal Accretion."

The Region of Ideas and Invention

The Region of Ideas and Invention

April 28, 2014
Harvard President, Drew Faust, dedicated her column in the Harvard Magazine this month to Astronomy due in large part to John Kovac's recent announcements concerning cosmic inflation.
Seniors in the Department who gave  their thesis presentations on April 7, 2014: (l-r) Caleb Canas, Diana Powell, Natania Wolanski, Adrian Arteaga, and Brian Claus.

2014 Undergraduate Thesis Presentations

April 8, 2014
The graduating Senior Concentrators in the Department presented their theses on April 7, 2014 in Phillips Auditorium.  Pictured below are: (left to right) Caleb Canas, Diana Powell, Natania Wolansky, Adrian Arteaga, and Brian Claus. 
Martin Elvis: Asteroids

Martin Elvis: Asteroids

April 1, 2014

Asteroids have great interest: not only do they preserve information about the earliest times in the pre-Solar nebula, and as a result contain unique minerals, they are also hazards to the Earth (see Chelyabinks) and are the easiest objects to reach with spacecraft. As targets for human exploration, scientific discovery, retrieval to Earth-Moon space and sources of abundant resources both for space and on Earth, asteroids are worth paying attention to. I investigate all aspects of near-Earth asteroids related to hazards, expeditions and especially resources, i.e. asteroid mining.

Martin Elvis: Quasar Spectral Energy Distributions: Twisted Tori

Martin Elvis: Quasar Spectral Energy Distributions: Twisted Tori

April 1, 2014

For a long time we have known that our view of the centers of quasars is often blocked by optically thick dusty material - the “obscuring torus”. But to block a large solid angle requires a large height/radius ratio which is hard to achieve with cold matter. Andy Lawrence and I proposed that a thin torus that is twisted through large angles is a natural solution. I am investigating the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of quasars in SDSS adding near-IR UKIDSS and mid-IR WISE data to see if the predictions of our model hold up.

The Harvard Horizons Symposium: April 22, 2014

The Harvard Horizons Symposium: April 22, 2014

March 27, 2014

Celebrating the Impact of New Ideas and New Discoveries
Sarah Rugheimer, Harvard Astronomy Graduate Student, was one of the eight selected Harvard Scholars who joined President Faust, Provost Alan Garber, FAS Dean Mike Smith, and GSAS Dean Xiao-Li Meng as the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences celebrated the power of new ideas — and the talent and innovation of the scholars who are generating them.

A gas cloud collides with the black hole at the center of our galaxy, and we get to watch

A gas cloud collides with the black hole at the center of our galaxy, and we get to watch

March 24, 2014

"The landscape in Chile’s Atacama desert is Martian-like: dry, barren and flanked by volcanoes, and its high altitude and unpolluted skies make it a prime spot for stargazing. It was there, after a full night of such observation — and over a 4 p.m. breakfast — that astronomer Stefan Gillessen found himself in possession of some very special data. His observations showed a cloud of gas being stretched out, or “spaghettified,” about to be ripped apart, as it barreled toward the black hole at the center of our galaxy." 

Milky Way Has 4 Billion Years to Live -- But Our Sun Will Survive

Milky Way Has 4 Billion Years to Live -- But Our Sun Will Survive

March 24, 2014

"Four billion years from now, our galaxy, the Milky Way, will collide with our large spiraled neighbor, Andromeda.

The galaxies as we know them will not survive.

In fact, our solar system is going to outlive our galaxy. At that point, the sun will not yet be a red giant star – but it will have grown bright enough to roast Earth’s surface. Any life forms still there, though, will be treated to some pretty spectacular cosmic choreography."