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Frontiers of Astronomy: The History of the Milky Way Written in the Stars

Date: Thu. November 12th, 2015, 8:00 pm-9:00 pm
Location: Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland, OH 44106

The History of the Milky Way Written in Stars

Jennifer Johnson, Ohio State University

Our Galaxy, the Milky Way, did not always look as it does now, a multi-armed spiral galaxy with at least one neighborhood hospitable to life. The Galaxy has been growing and evolving for the last 13 billion years, creating billions of stars throughout its life. These stars, through their age, chemical composition, and motions, record the history of the Galaxy and provide a “fossil record” if we can observe enough of it to interpret it. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has been observing stars, as well as galaxies, since 2000, and is now approaching detailed observations of three-quarters of a million stars. Creating such a large survey is a tremendous undertaking. This talk will discuss both how large number of astronomers, engineers, and technical staff come together to relentlessly probe the night sky and how this enormous amount of data is revolutionizing our understanding of our home galaxy.

Jennifer Johnson has been an astronomy professor at Ohio State University since 2005. She studies the ages, compositions, and motions of stars in the Milky Way and its nearby satellite galaxies to understand the formation of our galaxy and others like it. She has been a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) collaboration for the past 10 years, and for the past 3 years has been the Survey Spokesperson, responsible for ensuring a productive scientific environment and for representing SDSS to the wider astronomical community.  In addition to SDSS data, she has used other prominent astronomical observatories, including Keck Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Telescopes, and the Large Binocular Telescope.

These talks are held in partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History at 8:00pm on Thursday nights. Admission is free to the general public; parking is available in the museum lot for a $6 charge.

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