Visiting lecturer celebrates Astronomy Day

Visiting lecturer celebrates Astronomy Day The University of South Dakota celebrates Astronomy Day by inviting Luis Aguilar to Farber Hall on April 18, at 7:30 p.m.

The lecture is sponsored in part by the American Astronomical Society through its Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureships program.

Aguilar's public lecture is titled "Extra-solar Planets." After a long time of dreaming and speculating about the possibility of other planetary systems, the first firm evidence of a planet beyond the solar system was unveiled in the last decade of the 20th century. Since then, a true avalanche of discoveries has occurred.

Included in the discoveries are planets that astronomers never thought were possible. In his talk, he will describe the main techniques used to discover extra-solar planets. The properties of the discovered planets will be shown and the possibilities of future search programs will be discussed. The likelihood of life on these planets will be reviewed as well. ��������

Aguilar will also present a lecture that will be primarily for science majors. This lecture is titled "The N-Body Problem," one of the oldest scientific problems. With a long tradition in mathematics, physics and astronomy, the N-Body Problem is the one that led Newton to develop his version of calculus, and Poincare to discover the concept of "deterministic chaos."

In astronomy, it promoted the development of several important fields as well. More recently, it has led to advances in computer science, both in hardware and software. In this talk, Aguilar will give a modern outlook on the impact of the N-Body Problem in various fields of research. This lecture will be at 4 p.m. in Akeley-Lawrence 125 on campus at USD.

Aguilar is a professor of galactic and stellar dynamics at the Instituto de Astronomia Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in 1985 and has done post doctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics where he was a postdoctorate fellow from 1985 to 1988. He is a member of several academic societies including the American Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union. His favorite teaching activity is his role as co-organizer of a science summer camp for high-school students and his hobbies include sailing in the Pacific.

Shapley (1885-1972) was president of the American Astronomical Society from 1943 to 1946 and throughout his life was a most active member of the society. In 1914, he was appointed a staff member of Mount Wilson Observatory and that year he began his epoch-making studies on colors and magnitudes of stars in globular clusters. As a result of this work, he obtained not only high quality distances for most globular clusters, but he showed that our sun is located near the outer rim of the globular clusters.

Before the days of Shapley, astronomers had generally assumed that our sun had a central position in our Milky Way system. Shapley's research changed all that. He proved conclusively that our sun is a star located at a distance of nearly 10,000 parsecs from the center of our galaxy. Shapley did for the Milky Way system what Copernicus had done for the solar system.

In 1921, Shapley went to Harvard Observatory where he soon assumed the responsibilities of the directorship, a post he held until 1952. His research at Harvard covered a wide spectrum, especially his studies of variable stars in the Magellanic Clouds and Milky Way fields and work on faint southern galaxies. In the 1930s he discovered the first dwarf galaxies in Sculptor and Fornax, both of them recognized members of the group.

In the later years of his life, he became an important figure on the national and international scene. He played a major role in the founding of UNESCO and was active in the affairs of the International Astronomical Union. He was a magnificent public lecturer and educator.

and he helped the society in getting the Visiting Professors Program off to an excellent start.

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