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Witnessing the Birth of Stars

by vrecinto on May 27th, 2014

Carl Salji and the Gould Belt Legacy Survey

The dust lanes in Orion are detected in emission at sub-millimeter wavelengths by the JCMT (red) but appear as dark features blocking the optical starlight observed by the Hubble Space Telescope map (blue). [Figure Credit: Carl Salji and the Gould Belt Legacy Survey.]

Next Maunakea Skies Talk June 20, 2014

Speaker:  Dr. Doug Johnstone, Associate Director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

Peering Into the Darkness with the JCMT: Witnessing the Birth of Stars

Time: Friday June 20, 2014 at 7 p.m. in the ‘Imiloa Planetarium

The birth of stars remains shrouded in mystery. They form inside thick puddles of gas and dust located primarily along the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Astronomers use infrared and radio telescopes to peer into and through these murky puddles to witness the birth of stars. For over 25 years the JCMT has been leading investigations to uncover the formation of stars in the Galaxy. In collaboration with the Spitzer Space Telescope, the Herschel Space Observatory, and the soon to be completed ALMA Observatory in Chile, the JCMT has transformed our understanding of stellar birth. Join Dr. Johnston on an adventure to uncover nearby stellar nurseries.

Dr. Doug Johnstone is the Associate Director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, a 15-m telescope on Maunakea devoted to observations of the Drsky at sub-millimeter wavelengths. Doug’s main research interests follow the formation of stars and planetary systems. He began his professional life as a theorist at the University of California, Berkeley, working on the evolution of circumstellar disks around young stars, back before extra-solar planet detections were common. He has spent time at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the University of Toronto, and the National Research Council of Canada, in Victoria, BC. Today, Dr. Johnstone’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of structure in molecular clouds, attempting to disentangle the physical processes through which a molecular cloud sheds into individual stars.

Chris Phillips, ‘Imiloa planetarium staff,  will provide observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, pointing out prominent constellations and stars one can see during this time of year.

The monthly Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month. Cost is $8 for Individual, Dual, Kupuna and Family Members; $6 for Patron Members; Free for Silver, Gold and Corporate Members. Non-member rate is $10. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 969-9703.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to, or call (808) 969-9703.

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