Gerald Schieven, a senior research officer at National Research Council Herzberg in Victoria, is the guest speaker at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’ s September meeting. Photo submitted

Nanaimo Astronomy Society guest will talk about array of antennas

Guest speaker tells about working with 16-kilometre radio observatory in Chile

It takes a really big telescope to see the fine details of the universe.

Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s September meeting guest speaker will talk about the what it’s like to work at the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array, a 16-kilometre array of 66 antennas that comprise a multi-national astronomy facility in the high elevations of the Atacama desert of northern Chile. The facility has made unprecedented images of such phenomena as the birth of planets around distant stars. It also detected organic molecules of the early universe and captured the first-ever image of the event horizon of the super-massive black hole, seen in April, at the centre of M87 galaxy.

Gerald Schieven, a senior research officer at National Research Council Herzberg in Victoria, head of the NRC Herzberg Millimetre Astronomy Group and manager of the Canadian node of the North American ALMA regional centre, will talk about the observatory, what’s it’s like to work there and some of the discoveries being made by the facility in his presentation of From Baby Planets to Black Holes: ALMA Explores the Cold Universe.

Schieven’s principal research interests include low- and intermediate-mass star formation, molecular clouds and debris disks.

Schieven has been a staff astronomer with NRC Herzberg for nearly 25 years. After obtaining his PhD in astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, he worked at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii before moving to Victoria in 2008.

Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting happens Thursday, Sept. 26, 7-9 p.m. at Beban Park social centre.

To learn more about this month’s meeting and NAS, visit the society’s website at www.nanaimoastronomy.com/.



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