Astronomer Tyler Nordgren to Discuss “Stars Above, Earth Below” January 13 at ESRI Conference Center

Since 2005, University of Redlands astronomer and physics professor Tyler Nordgren has been working closely with a team of astronomers and park rangers to promote astronomy education in the national parks. He will speak about these efforts at 5:30 p.m. on January 13, 2010, at the ESRI Conference Center at 380 New York Street in Redlands, California.

America’s national parks protect spectacular geologic and ecological environments from development. They also protect our natural viewsheds beneath the horizon by day and above the horizon at night. A mere hundred years ago, stars, planets, nebulae, and galaxies were clearly visible in the nighttime sky from anywhere. Now, dark, starry nights are a rare sight for urban dwellers.

In 2007, Dr. Nordgren made a journey across the American landscape, exploring the connections between national parks and the wonders of the night sky. He visited 12 parks in 12 months, from Denali in Alaska to Bryce Canyon in Utah. He met with park rangers and examined the themes that link the parks to other landscapes in the solar system, then wrote about what he discovered on the Planetary Society’s Web site. His book Stars Above, Earth Below: A Guide to Astronomy in the National Parks is intended for the public and is due in February 2010.

While earning his Ph.D. from Cornell University, Nordgren’s research involved measuring the amount of dark matter in spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way. He has worked with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he helped build a telescope designed to look at the surfaces of other stars. In 2004, he was part of a team of seven astronomers and artists who converted the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rover camera calibration targets into functioning sundials and saw the rovers land safely in Gusev Crater and Meridiani Planum.

This talk is part of an ongoing educational and cultural series of speeches, performances, and programs that ESRI and the University of Redlands Town & Gown organization are cosponsoring.

The event will be free to the public. It will be held in ESRI’s new state-of-the-art auditorium and followed by a short reception for the speaker and attendees. To register and ensure seating, visit www.esri.com/culturalseries on the Internet or call 909-748-8011.

[Source: ESRI Press Release]

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