What color is the sky on your planet?

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Darren Williams, Ph.D.
Darren Williams, Ph.D.

Zoom over to the Martz-Kohl Observatory at 7:30 on Wednesday evening, August 19 and hear about what the sky is like on other planets across the galaxy.

The Martz-Kohl Observatory welcomes back Darren Williams, PhD, Physics Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State Behrend, our special guest speaker for August, 2020.

Dr. Williams, a long-time friend of the observatory, will present “Taking the Temperature of an Extrasolar Planet.” He will discuss how astronomers take a planet’s temperatures by using light hiding in the host-star’s spectrum, orbital shapes, and extreme planet-wide seasonal cycles.

Dr. Williams will also discuss the latest news in the field of exoplanets and the continuing search for worlds that are similar to our own, Earth-like worlds of distant stars. After the presentation, anyone “zoomed-in” is invited to take part in a lively question & answer session limited only by the curiosity and imagination of our guests.

Dr. Darren Williams earned his Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of Pittsburgh and his PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at The Pennsylvania State University. His research interests include, Asteroid Impacts on Terrestrial Planets; Climates of Terrestrial Planets; Evolution of the Solar System; Exoplanets and Exomoons; and Spin-Orbital Dynamics of Planets and Moons.

How to Zoom In

The “doors open” for signing on at 7:15 for the program that starts at 7:30. Using a computer at home or a smart phone anywhere, just click on this link at the Martz-Kohl Observatory website: https://martzobservatory.org/zoom/ or on “Taking the Temperature of an Extrasolar Planet” on the home page.

The Other Big Show

On August 11 and 12, don’t miss the Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers of the year. Late night sky-watchers can see a large number of bright meteors, often as many as 60 per hour at its peak. The spectacle is produced by Earth passing through the debris trail streaming through space from comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862.

Every year the shower can be seen at some time between July 17 and August 24, this year mostly on the night of the 11th and morning of the 12th. The bright second quarter moon will outshine some of the fainter meteors this year, but the Perseids are so numerous and bright that they should still be a pretty good show. As always, the best viewing will be after midnight from a dark location. The meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus from which most of the meteors will appear to radiate, though they can appear anywhere in the sky.

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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.