7:30 PM Guest Speaker
You can almost touch the stars.
Even if you wanted to touch a star, they’re impossibly distant. Despite these great distances, researchers have learned a great deal about quite a few stars. How? The most common method to study the stars is called spectroscopy, which is the art and science of analyzing the colorful rainbow spectrum produced by a prism-like device.
Until recently, spectroscopy was too expensive and too complicated for all but a handful of amateurs. Today, though, new tools make spectroscopy accessible to almost all of us. You no longer need a PhD, dark skies, long exposures, enormous aperture, or a big budget! With your current telescope and FITS camera (or a simple web cam or even a DSLR without a telescope) you can now easily study the stars yourself. Wouldn’t you like to detect the atmosphere on Neptune or the red shift of a quasar right from your own backyard?!
This talk, with lots of interesting examples, showed us what it’s all about and helped us understand how spectroscopy is used in research. And, it showed us how to get started.
Speaker Bio: Tom Field of Field Tested Systems is a Contributing Editor at Sky & Telescope. Tom’s article on spectroscopy appeared in the August 2011 issue. He’s the author of the RSpec software which received their “Hot Product 2012” award.