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WN@tL: “The Big Picture: Science and Public Outreach with Astronomical Surveys”
April 17 @ 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm
Speaker: Ellen and Keith Bechtol
Speaker Bio: Keith Bechtol is an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, leading a research group in observational cosmology. He contributes to the design, commissioning, operation, and scientific analysis of several astronomical surveys of the night sky, including the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). His scientific interests include dark matter, dark energy, neutrinos, and multi-messenger astronomy.
Ellen Bechtol designs and evaluates informal education experiences in a variety of settings, both in-person and digital. She is currently an Evaluation Specialist for LSST, and is an Education and Outreach Specialist for the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center. She is especially interested in sharing the excitement of scientific research with new audiences and broadening participation in STEM fields.
Description: The goal of astronomical surveys is to map as much of the sky as possible as quickly as possible. Rather than starting from a specific set of pre-defined targets for detailed study, astronomical surveys represent a statistical census of the cosmos. A confluence of technologies, including large-aperture and wide field-of-view telescopes, CCD cameras, and ever growing computational power, have motivated increasingly ambitious surveys that combine depth, wide areal coverage, and high observing cadence. For example, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), now under construction in Chile, will image the entire southern sky nearly a thousand times over the next decade. LSST will catalog more stars, galaxies, and Solar System objects in its first year of operations than all previous telescopes combined. The rich datasets generated by astronomical surveys are commonly stored as searchable digital databases to be shared with the global scientific community and the general public. Technological and cultural shifts around surveys have transformed the landscape of professional astronomy, and have created new opportunities for education and public outreach.