Events for the Public

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics sponsors a variety of free programs for the public. Among these events are Observatory Nights held on the third Thursday of the month (excluding June, July and August). Observatory Nights feature a nontechnical lecture and telescopic observing from the observatory roof if weather permits. The lectures are intended for high-school age and older audiences but children are also welcome. We also sponsor a variety of other special observing events throughout the year. Admission is free and seating is first-come, first-served.

These events--unless otherwise noted--are held in Phillips Auditorium (at the rear of the CfA complex near Madison Street and large parking lot), 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, about 1 mile west of Harvard Square. Parking lots marked for Observatory Staff are open to the public on event nights. Parking is free.

The Observatory does not host private events.

Monthly Observatory Night
 
Thursday, October 18, 2018
7:30 pm: Quantum Tools to Explore the Universe…and Help Life on Earth
Ronald Walsworth, Senior Physicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Senior Lecturer on Physics, Harvard University

At the Center for Astrophysics, we exploit quantum physics to advance the state-of-the-art in measurement and imaging, and then apply these tools to search for Earth-like planets around other stars and probe the nature, history, and fate of the Universe. Sometimes, these quantum tools can also be applied to down-to-Earth problems — ranging from health to navigation. I will describe some examples from my laboratory. (Photo credit: David Glenn)

Monthly Observatory Night
 
Thursday, November 15, 2018
7:30 pm: Early Science from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
Sam Quinn, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) began science operations in July 2018, and over the next two years will survey most of the sky in search of small planets transiting the nearest stars, the brightness of which enables studies of planetary compositions and atmospheric properties. These will likely be the planets on which we focus our search for life through the detection of biosignature gases in the planets' atmospheres. However, TESS is not just an exoplanet mission; by monitoring the brightness variations of every object in the sky, TESS will support research at all scales, including Solar System, stellar, and extragalactic astrophysics. In this talk, I will describe the TESS mission and the science it will enable, and I will close by presenting some of the first exciting results to emerge from the mission. (Photo credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)