Speakers

Secrets of the Ringed Planet with Dr. Linda J. Spilker


From nearly a billion miles away, a nuclear powered spacecraft called Cassini, was guided by a team of hundreds of scientists from around the world all reporting to Linda Spilker on a daring mission to unlock the mysteries of the second largest planet in our solar system... Saturn and it’s complex system of moons and rings.

What was learned during its seven years in orbit was only the tip of the iceberg, as hundreds of gigabytes of data was collected. Now that the team has had time to harvest the big data, Cassini’s Project Scientist Dr. Linda Spilker is prepared to give us insight at StarLight Festival into one of the most researched planets in our solar system. Aside from revealing the he possibilities of life existing beyond Earth, and the future solar system exploration.

Sponsored by Woodland Hills Camera and Telescope

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life with Dr. Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak of SETI

Since 1995, 3,743 confirmed planets in 2,796 systems have been discovered around other stars, but of even greater import is the newly learned fact that as many as one in five stellar systems could house an Earth-like planet. There is abundant real estate for – not just life – but intelligent life in the cosmos. So how have SETI researchers adjusted to this abundance of worlds? Are they still simply trying to tune in ET on the radio?

In his Starlight Festival presentation Dr. Seth Shostak will discuss current SETI efforts as well as some new approaches to finding company among the stars.

The Legacy of George Ellery Hale with Samuel D. Hale

Samuel D. Hale

Mt. Wilson Institute Board of Trustees chairman and CEO Samuel D. Hale comes to StarLight Festival to speak about and honor his grandfather, George Ellery Hale who built in succession four of the world’s largest telescopes, beginning with the 40-inch Refractor at Yerkes Observatory, the 60-inch and 100-inch telescopes in the mountains north of Los Angeles at Mt. Wilson Observatory, and finally the 200-inch at Palomar Observatory.

Born and raised in Pasadena, he has made a career in investment management. As a direct descendant of the observatory's founder, Sam Hale joined the board of the Mt. Wilson Institute in the late 90's at the invitation of Executive Direct Dr. Robert Jastrow. He succeeded Nobel Laureate Charles Townes as Chair in 2006.
Bring your family and friends to meet and listen to Sam Hale as he will give the Starlight Festival audience accounts of little known personal aspects of his famous grandfather during the 150th Birthday Anniversary of George Ellery Hale. 

Astronomy Outreach of Kosovo's Pranvera Hyseni

Pranvera Hyseni

Pranvera Hyseni is the “Founder and Director” of the Astronomy Outreach of Kosovo (AOK) which is the largest non-profit astronomy outreach program in the Republic of Kosovo now in its first decade of independence after the armed conflict. 

Often seen on television and is an icon of social media, Pranvera and her organization have received several recognition awards. Selected as one of 24 winners in the world for The Mars Generation's 24 Under 24 Leaders and Innovators in STEAM and Space Award”, Pranvera presentation "Little Things Make a Big Difference" is about the history of astronomy in Kosovo during the last few decades and how AOK's STEM activities are improving scientific literacy to a young generation, by providing free activities in schools and universities. It is her mission to educate and inspire others in order to change the world.

The Day We Found the Universe with Marcia Bartusiak

Marcia Bartusiak

On New Year’s Day in 1925, a young Edwin Hubble released his finding that our universe was far bigger than previously believed. Six years later, astronomers convinced Albert Einstein that the universe was not static, as he had imagined, but in fact expanding. In her lecture on this era, Marcia Bartusiak will reveal the battles of will, clever insights, incredible technology, ground-breaking research, and wrong turns made by the early investigators of the heavens as they raced to uncover what many consider the beginning of modern cosmology.

Combining her undergraduate training in journalism with a master’s degree in physics, Marcia Bartusiak of MIT has been covering the fields of astronomy and physics for nearly four decades. Now a columnist for Natural History magazine, she has also published in a variety of publications, including Science, Smithsonian, Discover, National Geographic, and Astronomy.

The author of six books, Bartusiak is currently Professor of the Practice of the Graduate Program in Science Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her latest books are a revised edition of Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony (2017), her award-winning history of gravitational-wave astronomy, Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved (2015), and The Day We Found the Universe (2009), on the birth of modern cosmology, which won the Davis Prize of the History of Science Society.

In 1982, Bartusiak was the first woman to win the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, and five years later was a finalist in NASA‘s Journalist-in-Space competition. She has also received an AIP Gemant Award and the Klumpke-Roberts Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

The Wonder of Cryogenics with Fermilab's Mr. Freeze

Mr. Freeze of Fermilab

Jerry Zimmerman “Mr. Freeze” is a Physicist at Fermilab who works on Detectors and Experiments. As a volunteer, he has been doing Cryogenic shows for schools for many years and been the Mr. Freeze of Fermilab since 1997. Zimmerman's Cryogenics demonstrations are literally "Super Cool" and encourages people young and old to develop a deeper interest in science. 

Star Death with Michael E. Bakich

Michael Bakich is a member of the Editorial Staff of Astronomy Magazine. His astronomical journey began when he was in third grade after his parents bought him a set of constellation flash cards. From that day forward, his goal was to become an astronomer. His talk "Star Death" deals with the explosive lives of stars beginning with their births, which take place in immense clouds of gas and dust, all the way to their sometimes spectacular deaths. And beyond. Because once stars die, their corpses become some of the strangest objects in the universe. Come pay respects to all of them in this lively illustrated talk.

Live From Mt. Wilson Observatory with Thomas Meneghini 

Thomas Meneghini

In 1955 with a 4-inch telescope borrowed from the University of Arizona young Tom Meneghini and his friend took their first step into exploring the cosmos to try to see meteors, and when they were unsuccessful they decided to sleep a little and upon waking up very early in the morning they saw two bright objects which turned out to be Jupiter and Saturn and he has been infatuated with astronomy ever since.

Since 2002 Meneghini has been a volunteer and a telescope operator at Mt. Wilson Observatories that were founded by George Ellery Hale in 1904. Currently he serves as the Executive Director overseeing all operations of the historic telescopes. Tom is entranced with all of Hale's accomplishments, he was a great scientist and he recognized the talent in other people to bask in the glory of their own accomplishments as they built and made discoveries with the world's largest telescopes. He was the consummate enabler whose vision still continues today.

Tom Meneghini and his team will present "Live from Mt. Wilson" from inside the observatory with a live feed of Jupiter (dependent on weather) through the historic 60-inch and 100-inch telescopes.

StarLight Festival astroSTEM Workshop with Dr. Mike Reynolds

Dr. Mike Reynolds

The Executive Director Emeritus of Chabot Space & Science Center,  Mike Reynolds is a Professor of Astronomy and served as the Dean of Mathematics & Natural Sciences and Professor of Astronomy at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Reynolds is perhaps best known for his astronomy and science education efforts, from the classroom to informal education to astronomy and space exploration outreach. He has received numerous recognition for his work, including the 1986 Florida State Teacher of the Year, and the G. Bruce Blair Medal. Reynolds was also trained as a NASA Astronaut for the Teacher in Space Program.

Mike's astroSTEM Workshop focuses on proven activities that will engage and educate the general public as well as educators for the classroom. These are all hands-on activities, based on the latest best practices in astronomy education, you'll find him in the STEAM Zone. 

Celestial Cyberspace Astronomy, Virtual Outreach, and the Modern World with Ben Palmer

Ben Palmer

Before computers, tablets, or smartphones, we had the evening sky. Every night, the story of the cosmos plays out above us, on the highest-definition screen known to humanity. But in a digital age, when screen time competes with sky time, can the stars still inspire us? In this Starlight presentation, Ben Palmer discusses the evolving realm of digital astronomy, where science, computers, and the cosmos change lives and unite the world.  
 
Ben Palmer is the founder and president of FirstLight, a unique STEAM/astronomy outreach initiative bringing the wonders of astronomy to a global audience via virtual telescopic observing, social, and multimedia applications. A nationally-recognized outreach astronomer and Youth Committee Chair for the Astronomy Foundation, Ben is a three-time winner of NASA'S Cassini Scientist for a Day Challenge, a recipient of the 2012 Jack Horkheimer/Smith Outreach Award, and a Dudley Observatory Rising Star Intern. He currently serves as a 2018 NASA Solar System Ambassador. As a science communicator, he has won 36 national and regional honors, writing about astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology, astrochemistry, and spaceflight. His work has been published in numerous print and online outlets, including Astronomy Magazine,The Celestial Times, and Creative Communications. He loves connecting others to the universe, and believes astronomy is a roadmap to understanding for everyone.