Astronomy Nights on Mt. Tamalpais

Sign up for free Friends of Mt Tam eMail Announcements

Free and open to all (no signup)


2015 MT TAM ASTRONOMY PROGRAMS
our 27th year on the mountain

April 25
8:30pm
Dr. Jacob Cohen, NASA-Ames, Chief-Scientist

“Stepping Out of the Nest”

How does research into the search for water and habitable planets, astrobiology, space biology, small satellites, advanced manufacturing, autonomous vehicles and synthetic biology make science fiction into science reality?  NASA-Ames scientists have a vision for human flight  from our Earthly nest to explore and live in space.

May 23
8:30pm

Dr. Imke de Pater, UC Berkeley, Chair Astronomy Dept

        “What Wonderful Worlds: Exploring our Solar System 

Our knowledge about our own Solar System has increased by leaps and bounds over the past few decades due to a combination of spacecraft missions and technical advancements on ground based telescopes. Why do we explore our Solar System? Review the numerous bodies now known to orbit the Sun, now familiar to us as individual worlds. Learn more about impacts on Jupiter, volcanic activity on Io, and planetary rings.

June 20
8:30pm

Andrew Fraknoi,  Foothill College, Chair Astronomy Dept   foothill.edu/ast

“The Top Tourist Sights of the Solar System: Where Bill Gates’ Great-Granddaughter Will Go on Her Honeymoon

Using spectacular images from space probes and the world’s largest telescopes, explore the most intriguing future “tourist destinations” among the planets and moons in our cosmic neighborhood.  Among our stops will be the 4,000-mile lava channel on Venus, the towering Mount Olympus volcano on Mars, the awesome Verona Cliffs on the moon Miranda (,the tallest “lover’s leap” in the solar system), and the recently discovered steam geysers on Saturn’s intriguing moon Enceladus.

July 11
8:00pm

 MOVIE NIGHT   NEW EVENT THIS YEAR

Screening of the 1997 classic science fiction film “Contact”

Book by Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Directed by Robert Zemeckis Post discussion led by Dr. Carolyn Porco, Science Advisor on the film Jodie Foster portrays the film’s protagonist, Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds strong evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make first contact. The film was released on July 11, 1997, grossed  $171 million worldwide and won the Hugo Award and received multiple Saturn awards and nominations.

July 25
8:30pm

 Dr. Phil Marshall, Kavli Institute, Project Scientist slac.stanford.edu/~pjm

“Weighing Galaxies”

We live in a galaxy of about a hundred billion stars, the Milky Way. As the sky over Mount Tam darkens, and the stars in the disk of our galactic home come into view, see how we are mapping out where the Dark Matter is, both in our local group of galaxies and further out in the depths of space. Galaxies are much heavier than they look – what could that mean for our understanding of how stars form, and what Dark Matter is?

Aug 22
8:30pm

Dr. Carolyn Porco, Space Science Institute, CICLOPS Director spacescience.org/about_ssi/staff/porco.html

In the Land of Enchantment: A Decade Exploring Saturn”

A glistening spaceship, with seven lonely years and billions of miles behind it, glides into orbit around a softly-hued, ringed planet.  A flying-saucer shaped machine descends through a hazy atmosphere and lands on the surface of an alien moon. These visions are not a dream but tell of the explorations of the  Cassini spacecraft and its Huygens probe in 2004. Come along for the ride, and witness the sights and magic worked by these emissaries from Earth to the enchanting realm of Saturn.

Sept 19
8:00pm

 Dr. Lynn Rothschild, NASA-AMES, Synthetic Biologist solarsystem.nasa.gov/people/profile.cfm?Code=RothschildL

         “A Biological Perspective on the Meaning of Time”

Life is a phenomenon that integrates processes ranging from the near instantaneous reactions of photosynthesis to the more stately pace of evolution. How are these processes with radically different time scales    creating and maintaining the diversity of life on earth? What are the clocks that nature uses to time them? And how is modern biology being used to alter the natural time scales?

Oct 17
7:30pm

 Dr. Geoff Marcy, UC Berkeley, Professor of Astronomy astro.berkeley.edu/people/faculty/marcy.html 

“Prospects and Hunting for Intelligent Life in the Universe”

Not one microbe has been found anywhere in the universe, except on Earth, nor have any intelligent civilizations been found. Is our Galaxy teeming with life, as suggested by science fiction, or might intelligent life be rare in the Milky Way Galaxy? New telescopes and techniques can answer these questions.