The Universe Tonight
Dr. Shawn Laatsch
Wonders of the Universe – Discoveries of 2011, and a look ahead to 2012
There were many discoveries during 2011 like the Earth’s own Trojan asteroid, water flowing on Mars, Pluto’s 4th moon, a star cooler than you, free-floating planets, a new type of supernova, the most distant galaxy, and the most distant quasar. There were many cases where our understanding was improved, such as a better explanation for the Moon’s asymmetry, the origin of the rings of Saturn, a better picture of the Milky Way’s spiral arms and the origin of the first stars. There was also the unexpected, a storm on Saturn, two nearby supernovae, and exoplanets with the densities of cannon balls and diamonds. We will take a look back at the major astronomical discoveries and events of 2011 and some of the major celestial happenings coming up in 2012!
Shawn Laatsch is the Planetarium Manager at Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, serves as an executive officer in the International Planetarium Society, and on the Board of Directors for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He has been actively engaged in astronomy education and outreach for the past 28 years and produced a numerous planetarium programs.
On the first Saturday of each month, the Visitor Information Station (VIS) hosts The Universe Tonight, a special presentation on the current research and discoveries occurring on Mauna Kea. The presentation begins at 6:00 PM and is followed by the regular evening stargazing program at the VIS.
The Universe Tonight typically features an astronomer from one of the observatories on Mauna Kea giving a presentation on recent observations and discoveries from their telescope. Observatories are on a rotating schedule. If you would like to know about upcoming presentations, please call the VIS at (808) 961-2180 during operational hours.