Season’s greetings! I hope everyone’s found some joy and fulfillment at the solstice, and the myriad celebrations associated with it.
As we mentioned last month, winter is particularly special because the region around the famous constellation of Orion happens to have many of the brightest stars in the sky, resulting in brilliant and beautiful winter nights. Of course, we could make a pleasant hobby out of just mapping and naming the stars in the sky, and for a long time that’s all astronomy was; however, the great accomplishment of modern astronomy is our ability to give real, physical descriptions of what these things are, where they are located, and how they change over time.
In my opinion, this season is the best time to do some thinking about what we’re seeing and what it really represents. This month, we’ll dig a little deeper into this region around Orion and as we do, the objects we’ll find will guide us through some profound and awe-inspiring astrophysical concepts: Stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis. Those terms might be a bit of a mouthful, but the subject itself is literally as simple as a nursery rhyme: Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are!
Through the hard work and ingenuity of many people who’ve come before us, we are among the first generations to get some understanding of how stars work, how they’re related to other things we see in the sky, and how they’re related to our surroundings, to our planet, and ultimately to us. In this month’s Gateway to the Stars?, I invite you to join us as we use imagery, ideas, and imagination, to transform what we see and feel when we look at the stars.
Gateway to the Stars? is hosted by Nick Jarvis on Saturday, January 2nd at 6:45pm in the Hansen Dome Theater. Tickets are $2, or free for planetarium members. Buy tickets here, or at the Clark Planetarium ticket desk.?