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"Out of This World" Astronomy Series 2011 April 5-May 13 at WIU-Macomb

March 24, 2011

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MACOMB, IL -- Take a break from your terranean ties and head "Out of This World" through the Western Illinois University Libraries' and Department of Physics' Astronomy Series 2011. The "Out of This World" series, which will include an exhibit, lectures and star-gazing activities, will run from Tuesday, April 5 through Friday, May 13.

Many of the events and activities in the series will take place in the physical sciences library, located in Currens Hall 201 on the WIU-Macomb campus. The "Out of This World" Astronomy Series 2011 exhibit can be viewed in Currens Hall 201 during the physical sciences library's regular business hours, which are (August–May): Mondays-Thursdays 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fridays 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; and closed Saturdays and Sundays. A detailed listing of events is provided below.

Astro-Lunch Seminars

The Astro-Lunch seminars will be held Tuesdays from 12-1 p.m.* in the physical sciences library (Currens Hall 201) and are presentations about astronomy and astrophysics by physics graduate students. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunches to the seminars, which are open free to the public. (* The Tuesday, April 26 Astro-Lunch will be held from 12:30-1:30 p.m.)

  • Tuesday, April 5, "Toward Understanding Massive Star Formation"
    Presented by Liang Yuan (Shanghai, China)
  • Tuesday, April 12, "Astronomy in Antarctica"
    Presented by Jacob Brown (Watseka, IL)
  • Tuesday, April 19, "What Makes a Planet Habitable"
    Presented by Aaron Schye (Eau Claire, WI)
  • 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, "Formation of Super-Massive Black Holes"
    Presented by Hsun Jen Chuang (Taipei, Taiwan)
  • Tuesday, May 3, "Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe"
    Presented by Yuang Sang (Shanghai, China)

Additional events include:

  • 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, Screening of "400 Years of the Telescope," Currens Hall 205
    Brian Davies, assistant professor, physics, will introduce the film.
  • 7-9 p.m. Thursday, April 7, "Biology—Astronomy Night," Currens Hall 201
    This program will feature fun biology- and astronomy-related activities and displays designed for preschool-aged children. This event is organized by the WIU biology and physics departments, the Biology Graduate Student Association, University Libraries and Preschool for All Program.
  • 7-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, Screening of "Eyes on the Skies," Currens Hall 205
    Brian Davies, assistant professor, physics, will introduce the film.
  • 11-11:50 a.m. Thursday, April 28, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and Life in the Universe," Currens Hall 201
    Presented by Esteban Araya, assistant professor, physics

    "After everything we have learned about the cosmos, Earth remains a unique place -- the only planet known to harbor life. Does life exist on other planets or moons? This presentation will discuss the likelihood of extraterrestrial life and the current efforts in the search for life in the universe," Araya noted.

    Araya has conducted observations using some of the most sensitive radio telescopes available, including the 305m Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico and the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico.

Astronomy Nights

In addition, every Tuesday evening during the "Out of This World" Astronomy Series 2011 (Tuesday, April 5 through Tuesday, May 3), the physics department will host "Astronomy Nights," during which participants can use telescopes to view the stars.

According to Kathleen Clauson, coordinator of the physical sciences library, the telescopes will be set up on the north side of Currens Hall on Tuesday evenings during the series, and the "Astronomy Nights" events will begin, weather permitting, after sunset (around 8 p.m.). Because viewing the stars through telescopes is an activity subject to the weather, events will be confirmed the day before (Mondays) and placed on the University Libraries' event calendar (see or go to University Libraries' website at and click on "Events Calendar" located in the "Events" section of the web page).

All events and activities in the "Out of This World" Astronomy Series 2011 are open free to the public. For more information, contact Clauson at (309) 298-1407 or via email at

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