Morgan Lecture Series Hosts Astronomer Dr. Michael Brown on Thursday, March 23
The Morgan Lecture Series of Science will host Dr. Michael Brown, a solar-system astronomer and professor of planetary astronomy from California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He will give a free, public lecture titled “Planet Nine from Outer Space” on Thursday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m., in the Blue Ridge Ballroom of the Plemmons Student Union.
The Morgan Lecture Series in the Sciences was created by an endowment from the G. William Morgan Family. Additional sponsors for this event are the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“Recent evidence suggests that a massive body is lurking at the outskirts of our solar system, far beyond the orbits of the known giant planets. This object, at a distance approximately 20 times further than Neptune and with a mass approximately 5,000 times larger than Pluto, is the real ninth planet of the solar system,” Brown said.
He will discuss the observation that led to the evidence for Planet Nine and how so massive an object could have been hiding in the outer solar system for so long, as well as the international effort to pinpoint this newest member of our planetary family.
Brown’s memoir, “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming,” is on the discovery of Eris and the reclassification of Pluto. It is an award-winning best seller.
Brown will also give a technical talk in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, as well as meet with students, during his visit March 23 from 2 to 3:15 p.m., in Garwood Hall Room 112. His talk will be on “Tales from the Outer Solar System.” He will discuss the discoveries and new views of giant collisions, stellar encounters and planetary rearrangements that are being identified through research and study.
“The past few years have seen an explosion in the discoveries of Pluto and nearby Pluto-sized bodies in the outer solar system, giving rise to a new classification of “dwarf planets,” stated Brown. “Like Pluto, each of these largest dwarf planets has a unique story to tell about the history and evolution of the solar system.”
For more about Brown, visit his website at http://web.gps.caltech.edu/
About the Morgan Science Lecture Series
The Morgan Science Lecture Series was established with a gift from the G. William Morgan Family. Morgan was a 1934 graduate of Appalachian and a health physicist with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The series stimulates scientific understanding and research among the sciences by bringing researchers to campus. Previous speakers include David Suzuki, award-winning geneticist and broadcaster, evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould, population ecologist Paul Ehrlich, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and oceanographer and underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard.
Citizen Science Program Calling For Help Observing the Weather
Do you ever wonder how much rainfall you received from a recent thunderstorm? How about snowfall during a winter storm? If so, an important volunteer weather observing program needs your help! The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow network, or CoCoRaHS, is looking for new volunteers across North Carolina. The grassroots effort is part of a growing national network of home-based and amateur rain spotters with a goal of providing a high density precipitation network that will supplement existing observations.
CoCoRaHS came about as a result of a devastating flash flood that hit Fort Collins, Colorado, in July 1997. A local severe thunderstorm dumped over a foot of rain in several hours while other portions of the city had only modest rainfall. The ensuing flood caught many by surprise and caused $200 million in damages. CoCoRaHS was born in 1998 with the intent of doing a better job of mapping and reporting intense storms. As more volunteers participated, rain, hail, and snow maps were produced for every storm showing fascinating local patterns that were of great interest to scientists and the public. Recently, drought reporting has also become an important observation within the CoCoRaHS program across the nation. In fact, drought observations from CoCoRaHS are now being included in the National Integrated Drought Information System.
North Carolina became the twenty-first state to establish the CoCoRaHS program in 2007, and by 2010, the CoCoRaHS network had reached all 50 states with nearly ten thousand observations being reported each day. Through CoCoRaHS, thousands of volunteers, young and old, document the size, intensity, duration and patterns of rain, hail, and snow by taking simple measurements in their own backyards.
Volunteers may obtain an official rain gauge through the CoCoRaHS website ( http://www.cocorahs.org ) for about $30 plus shipping. Besides the need for an official 4 inch plastic rain gauge, volunteers are required to take a simple training module online and use the CoCoRaHS website to submit their reports. Observations are immediately available on maps and reports for the public to view. The process takes only five minutes a day, but the impact to the community is tenfold: By providing high quality, accurate measurements, the observers are able to supplement existing networks and provide useful results to scientists, resource managers, decision makers and other users.
“North Carolina has one of the most complex climates in the U.S.,” said Dr. Ryan Boyles, state climatologist and director of the State Climate Office, based at North Carolina State University. “Data gathered from CoCoRaHS volunteers are very important in better understanding local weather and climate patterns.”
“An additional benefit of the program to the National Weather Service is the ability to receive timely reports of significant weather (hail, intense rainfall, localized flooding) from CoCoRaHS observers that can assist forecasters in issuing and verifying warnings for severe thunderstorms,” says David Glenn, CoCoRaHS State Co-coordinator and meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport/Morehead City.
How does one become a CoCoRaHS observer? Go to the CoCoRaHS website above and click on the “Join CoCoRaHS” emblem on the upper right side of the main website. After registering, take the simple online training, order your 4 inch rain gauge and start reporting!
“We are in need of new observers across the entire state. We would like to emphasize rural locations, areas of higher terrain, and areas near the coast,” added Glenn.
Lost Province Brewing Co. to Host Fundraiser on Tues., Mar. 14
Lost Province Brewing Co. will be hosting “Get Lost for a Cause” on Tuesday, Mar. 14, from 11:30 a.m.-10:00 p.m. with live music from 7-9 p.m. This event is a fundraiser for RISE (Relationships Intended for Self-Sufficiency and Empowerment), an initiative of Hospitality House, that is striving to help families overcome poverty in Watauga County. RISE is committed to establishing well-being for all through intentional relationships focused on learning, personal development and community service.