Astronomer talks gas measurement

A leading Okanagan astronomer will explain how the coldest gas in the universe is being measured...

A leading Okanagan astronomer will explain how the coldest gas in the universe is being measured at the June meeting of the Okanagan Centre RASC (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada) in Vernon on Wed. June 29.

Dr. Erik Rosolowsky, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UBC Okanagan, will review details of  a research project he is working on for an audience of OCRASC members and interested members of the public.

The meeting with Dr. Rosolowsky will be held at 7:15 p.m. on June 29 at the Okanagan Science Centre, on the east side of Polson Park just off Highway 6, in the smaller brick building to the north of the two main ones.

Dr. Rosolowsky said that his ‘Taking the Temperature of Star Formation’ talk will highlight how astronomers make use of physics to understand far away star systems and explain “how we know what we know.”

The research project he is working on uses the gas ammonia to measure the temperature of the coldest gas in the Universe.

Dr Rosolowsky will explain why the ammonia molecule is a great thermometer, how light gets to us from distant star-forming clouds, and how we observe it with radio telescopes. He will also discuss how these observations of ammonia are changing our understanding of how stars form.

The OCRASC has more than 120 members from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm. Interested members of the public are welcome to attend monthly meetings which are held from September to June in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton.

As well as public outreach telescope viewing events in the three centres, the club operates the Okanagan Observatory located on Big White Road east of Kelowna where public audio-visual presentations followed by telescope viewing are offered every clear Friday evening.

The observatory features a Sky Theatre where the public programs on astronomy are presented. The club has built a large 25-inch reflecting telescope which is available together with club members’ telescopes for the public viewing following the presentations.

Phone messages on whether sky conditions will permit the observatory to open are posted from 3 p.m. on Friday afternoons at 250-300-8759. More information is available on their www.ocrasc.ca and www.okanaganobservatory. ca websites.