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Observatory Traveling Presentations

auditorium presentation

The BSU Observatory offers a menu of traveling presentations to be brought to your local library, school, or other community center. These events are currently suspended due to coronavirus concerns.

The talks are presented by a BSU physics department member by appointment. Access to powerpoint and a projector are typically required, however if your facility lacks technology please contact us to discuss options.

To schedule a talk please contact the Observatory Manager, Jamie Kern, at

Fees range from $125 - $250.

For thousands of years, western culture considered the Earth to be at the center of the universe. Recognition that Earth could be moving appeared early in ancient Greece, but resistance to the idea took many forms—some scientific, some cultural. Starting with the basics of how the sky moves, we will collect clues about the nature of the Earth, Moon, Sun, stars and planets. We will see how social context affects whether clues are allowed to be used, and we'll meet historical figures on the way, including Aristarchus, Aristotle, Ibn al-Haytham, Tycho, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton.
In the early 1900s, astronomers thought the Earth and Sun were made of the same materials and helium was something that only existed in stars. We will follow the lives of three women who changed the way we saw the universe (Annie Jump Cannon, Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin, and Lise Meitner, joining their journey to discover what powers our Sun, what it’s made of, and that the rainbows of the stars in our sky hold a remarkable secret about the nature and origin of the universe itself. 
In 1938 a fictional invasion by the inhabitants of Mars panicked many Americans. Today we are invading Mars with our robots. Mars has become a world of robots that poke and prod the land, photograph the surface and probe with ever more advanced instruments in order to discover if there ever were Martians, if so are they still there, and of course, will we ever inhabit this distant world?
Discovered by a young American in 1930 questions about what to call this world were raised at the start of the 21st century. Why do some people consider Pluto not a planet? Why do others insist it is? This talk delves into how we call things in nature by proper names, how we agree on what those names mean and finishes with the ongoing stunning discoveries on this tiny world at the edge of the known solar system.
The ideas and discoveries of three men in the 1920s paved the way for our modern model of the universe. Starting with the idea of the stable, static universe that prevailed in the early 1900s, we will join Georges Lemaitre, Edwin Hubble and Milton Humason on their journey toward understanding the incredible distances between galaxies and how our universe began.
The search for life has been one of the major driving forces behind NASA’s exploration of the Solar System.   What are the very most basic conditions life needs in order to exist? What worlds in the Solar System meet those requirements? We will explore our current understanding of those worlds and touch on exoplanets outside our Solar System. Spoiler: There are more of them than you probably think.
In 1969 men from Earth walked on the surface of our next nearest neighbor, the Moon.  The journey began as a competition between two superpowers but became, if only for a short time something greater.  This talk parallels the reasoning behind the space race with the technical accomplishments and human achievements that occurred at the same time.