The Cat’s Eye Nebula, formed after a dying star shed its outer layers in a cloud of glowing gases. Our sun could meet the same fate when it burns up its fuel about 4.5 billion years from now. (Stock image)

Local astronomer to share knowledge about planetary nebulae

Local astronomer explains our sun will one day eject its outer layers to form a planetary nebula

All stars die, but they go out in blazes of glory.

Nanaimo Astronomy Society will hear some local expertise about the ultimate outcome for our sun and solar system at the society’s upcoming April meeting.

Gail Conway, this month’s feature guest speaker, will present The Fate of Our Sun: A Study of Planetary Nebulae on April 26 at the Beban Park social centre.

All suns will die, including ours, but it will take a while. About 4.5 billion years from now our sun will end its life as a small, extremely dense object, but not before its outer layers expand to become a planetary nebula, a huge glowing cloud of dust and gas around our aged star. Planetary nebulae are considered among the most beautiful structures in the universe.

Conway holds a bachelor degree in physics from the University of Montana, a masters degree in astronomy from San Diego State University and completed her coursework toward a Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Calgary.

Her interest in planetary nebulae began at the University of Illinois while studying X-ray emissions from the objects. Her studies expanded to include their infrared and visible light emissions.

Conway now works with teenagers at the Discover Montessori School in Nanaimo, but continues her interest in astronomy and sharing her knowledge with others. Conway has presented to the Cowichan Star Finders, Table Mountain Star Parties in Duncan and Washington State and was one of six panelists who shared their experiences of last summer’s Great North American Eclipse of the Sun at the Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s September monthly meeting.

She will explain how scientists’ understanding of the objects has evolved since French astronomer Charles Messier made the first discovery of a planetary nebula in 1764.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are an estimated 20,000 planetary nebulae in the Milky Way galaxy, but just 1,800 have been catalogued.

The April 26 meeting starts at 7 p.m. The first meeting is free to attend and after that, members of the public are encouraged to join the Nanaimo Astronomy Society.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Truck convoy honouring Nanaimo boy who died after being struck by vehicle

Trucks left from Victoria and others joined along the way up the Island

Nanaimo women look for forward steps at march

Nanaimo Women March On held downtown on Saturday

Nanaimo candidate, premier address spec tax at B.C. NDP event

Premier John Horgan and Sheila Malcolmson say speculation and vacancy tax addresses homelessness

RDN board to vote on spending $150,000 for mapping software

ESRI Canada successful RFP proponent, RDN to vote as part of 2019 budget

Nanaimo’s École Hammond Bay school unveils new gym expansion

Larger gym can accommodate home games and assemblies

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Support pours in for Vancouver Island couple whose home was destroyed by massive blaze

GoFundMe page reached $10,000 in one day for soon-to-be parents

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found in Cowichan Valley

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

Most Read