The Universe: Growing Every Second!


Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut
Martz/Kohl Board of Directors

It sounds like a tabloid headline, but it’s actually true.
Hop aboard for a fascinating ride through the expanding cosmos at the Martz-Kohl Observatory Open House on Wednesday evening, October 11 at 8:00 p.m. atop Robin Hill Road in Frewsburg with Dr. Deron Williams, renowned Harlow Shapley Lecturer, visiting from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Erie’s Behrend College.

A Fascinating Story
But relax, our expanding universe won’t give your back yard an extra acre of grass to mow any time soon, Williams promises, and the Buffalo Bills won’t find the end zone 10 yards farther down the field this season, but fasten your seatbelt – the nearby universe is really getting bigger at the speed of more than 45 miles every second. And the farther you go, the faster you will find your portion of the universe is speeding away from home.

Seeing is Believing
Dr. Williams’ presentation will be titled: “Toward The Edge of Space and Time: Scenes from an Expanding Universe.” During his talk Williams will outline the growing evidence that proves the universe is expanding faster and faster and how such astronomical measurements are made.

Hear this fascinating story of new discoveries in outer space on Wednesday evening. Dr. Williams’ talk is designed for general audiences and students alike, followed by a Q&A session hosted by Williams. Astronomical observing in the Kohl Observatory will also be available, if weather permits, along with tours of the entire facility.

“The universe is more than 14 billion years old,” Williams says, “and yet, it’s larger than ever.” For most people, keeping up with an expanding universe is easier said than done, but Williams will discuss just how to do that.

“Today, astronomers are using big telescopes to see farther into space and farther back in time than ever before. Clues to the expansion come from the ability to measure velocities and distances of galaxies near the outer limits of observation,” Williams says.

Dr. Williams’ other research interests and publications include: Impacts of comets and asteroids on the earth, exoplanet detection, origin and dynamical evolution of planets and moons, and planetary climate and habitability.

Back Home
Williams began his own career in astrophysics as a local youth at The Martz Observatory some years ago. Today, he continues making astronomy understandable and entertaining for students of all ages and the general public in love with the beautiful night skies over Western New York.

Dr. Williams is not the only young astronomer whose career began as a hobby at Martz and continued from there to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, PhDs and globe spanning careers in space sciences, astronomy and astrophysics and the nation’s space program.

Parents and teachers are especially invited to bring their students to Martz-Kohl meetings and events. The observatory is also working on becoming an active and vital partner in local and regional STEM and STEAM school curricula for public, private and home-schools.

Martz-Kohl is an all-volunteer, member operated facility supported in part by the State of New York, local foundation grants and philanthropies and mostly by the generous contributions of our guests and visitors. We are “Your observatory because of your support.”

For a deeper look at the night sky, planets, stars and the entire universe, visit the Martz/Kohl Observatory online at, check the schedule of events and visit in person. Thank you to Hall and Laury Opticians for sponsoring these Martz/Kohl column.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.