Astronaut Mae Jemison Visits Andover

The first African-American woman to travel to space speaks to the Andover Community

Guest Post by Isabelle Bicks ’18

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Last Friday evening, Andover had the privilege to welcome Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American woman to travel to space, accomplished physician, and lifelong dancer. Her vast knowledge and passion for science were palpable, but I was most interested by the connection Dr. Jemison made between the arts and sciences. As both a ballet dancer and biology student, I loved that she drew from both seemingly opposite experiences to illustrate how she was a pioneer in her career. Dancing has been such an integral part in my own life and has most certainly impacted how I work as a student at Andover. Dr. Jemison explained that the arts are the study of ourselves, while science is the study of the world around us. I had never before realized this connection. Although our world today tends to compartmentalize people and label them as either gifted math/science people or arts and humanities people, Dr. Jemison completely disrupted this tendency and explained how her own passion for the arts translated into the successful career she leads.  I think that these ideas about integrating arts and sciences can be utilized at Andover. Bridging the curriculum between the two disciplines seems necessary and beneficial.  At a school that strives to achieve “empathy and balance,” Dr. Jemison was the perfect speaker to embody these qualities.

The Science Faculty had an opportunity to attend a reception with Ms. Jemison and here is a bonus photo of her with Carol Artacho (physics), Sheena Hilton (chemistry), Caroline Odden (physics), and Fei Yao (physics).

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Infrared: Not Just for Astronomers

Physics Department Has Fun With Infrared!

Caroline Odden, Physics Chair, just got an infrared camera that attaches to the iPhone.  Here’s a class portrait in infrared. 

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Infrared radiation may be used to detect temperature variations.  In this image, the white places are the warmest, followed by red, yellow, green, and blue.  Astronomers take advantage of all kinds of radiation (including infrared) to learn about the universe.  Infrared detectors are also used for a variety of practical purposes here on earth.  For example, thermal (infrared) imaging may be used on buildings to detect where heat is being lost in the winter. 

http://www.flir.com/instruments/building/display/?id=49418

Mercury Transit – TODAY!

View Today’s Rare Celestial Sight from Outside Commons!

Students are gathered with Carolyn Odden, Physics Instructor, outside commons today to view the Mercury Transit today through a telescope with a special solar filter. Come view the rare event where Mercury crosses the sun from the Earth’s perspective. You can see Mercury as a tiny dot on the sun’s surface as it orbits. To view, you need special equipment with solar filters – please do not look directly into the sun.

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According to CBSNews.com:

“The transit of Mercury got underway just after 7 a.m. on the east coast with the smallest planet appearing as a tiny black dot on the face of the sun. The transit will last for a total of about 7.5 hours. The last time solar-planetary ballet happened was 2006. It will happen again three years from now, but then not until 2032.

Mercury transits occur just 13 times per century, on average. They’re so rare because the innermost planet’s orbit is inclined by about 7 degrees compared to that of Earth, so Mercury, the sun and our home planet just don’t line up all that often.”

Read the full CBSNews.com article HERE.

You can also watch live video with Astronomer commentary at SPACE.COM.

UMass Senior Helps Discover New Galaxies

Astronomy News in The Boston Globe

March 30, 2016

Today, an article in the Boston Globe features a senior who attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst and how he helped discover some of the brightest galaxies in the universe.sky-space-galaxy-milky-way

Kevin Harrington was among the team who’s groundbreaking research was published in a prestigious European astronomy journal this month, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. He made this discovery first by sifting through mountains of publicly available data and drawing his own conclusions and theories about said data. He was the lead author of a paper outlining the findings published in the above publication.

Harrington is 23 years old and discovered his love of astronomy in high school – he will be graduating UMass this spring and heading to start his doctoral work in September.

In response to this article, Clyfe Beckwith, Phillips Academy Physics Instructor gives “a shout-out for public institutions and to someone who is tenacious enough to sift through someone else’s (public) data.”

The article, “UMass senior helps find universe’s brightest galaxies, by Nestor Ramos, was featured on the front page of the Boston Globe on Wednesday, March 30th, 2016.