SPEAKER: Dark matter: Small scales, big problems – Kyle Oman

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April 12, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Elliott Building Lecture Wing Room 167 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

“Dark matter: Small scales, big problems” – Kyle Oman, PhD candidate, UVic

Dwarf galaxies
Dwarf galaxies

There are several lines of evidence pointing to the existence of an as yet elusive dark matter which is more abundant in the Universe on average than the ordinary stuff of gas, stars and planets. Despite the lack of a plausible particle candidate, the LCDM cosmological theory has been remarkably successful in describing the large scale structure of the Universe. The biggest current challenges to this theory are manifest on the scale of dwarf galaxies. How can we measure a substance we cannot see? What can a handful of puny nearby galaxies tell us about the Universe as a whole? These are the questions I’m tackling with the help of the cutting-edge APOSTLE cosmological simulation suite and observations taken on the Very Large Array in New Mexico.

Kyle Oman is a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria. He has worked on topics in theoretical extragalactic astronomy ranging from the smallest dwarf galaxies to the largest galaxy clusters. He completed his BSc and MSc at the University of Waterloo.

President’s Message – March 2017

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Spring is nearly upon us and I am hoping for a distinct change in weather. We have had very few observing sessions at the VCO through the winter and I think the last RASCals of Cattle Point evening that actually went ahead was in 2015. Clouds, clouds, go away!

Thanks to Reg for coordinating the purchase and installation of the new monitor for the Astro Café building. Its first light saw a record attendance with 27 people there. A very special thank you goes to Terry Ryals for building the cabinet for the television; it looks just great.

Due to April exams being scheduled in our regular meeting room, our monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 12 will be in the Elliott Building Lecture Wing Room 167.

My heartfelt thanks to His Worship Mayor Ranns and councillors of the District of Metchosin who approved our request to hold the RASCals Star Party on the weekend of July 28 – 30 with the rental fee waived. That will be proceeding at the Metchosin Municipal Grounds on Happy Valley Road; more information will be provided as it becomes available. Our Star Party will coincide with the National Star Party day of Saturday, July 29. The plan is for as many centres as possible to have public events on that day in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. We hope there will be clear skies so we can show off the sky!

We are also in the process of finalizing our agreement with the Friends of the DAO to hold another series of Summer Star Parties on Saturday evenings. We are planning to have those every Saturday from Astronomy Day on April 29 to September 16. If you have NOT been involved in past years and would like to volunteer please let Ken know at outreach@victoria.rasc.ca and we will add you to the email list.

Please be reminded to let me know at president@victoria.rasc.ca if you would like to participate in a bulk purchase of the Explore the Universe Guide as I introduced in my January message.

SPEAKER: Bugs in Space – Astrobiology and the Habitable Zone – Dr. Julia Foght

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March 8, 2016, 7:30PM, University of Victoria, Bob Wright Centre A104 – RASC Victoria Centre’s monthly meeting

Event info

Bugs in Space!? A Microbiologist’s View of Astrobiology and the Habitable Zone – Dr. Julia Foght

Dr. Julia Foght
Dr. Julia Foght

As astronomers discover myriad planets in distant solar systems and find evidence of water on planets and moons in our own solar system, astrobiologists seek to answer the question “Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?” But nested within these few words are many other questions: If life exists or previously existed beyond Earth, would we even recognize it? How can we detect life at astronomical distances without collecting physical samples?

What ‘biosignatures’ could we use, remotely or in place, to locate, confirm and/or examine such life, especially if it was microscopic? Where are the best places to look for life nearby in our solar system? Can sites on Earth serve as analogues to refine our questions and future exploration? Can the search for extraterrestrial life illuminate theories about the origins of life on Earth?

Dr. Foght will present some of the factors that potentially influence the distribution of life in the universe and the colonization of exoplanets, based on our current understanding of earthly analogues and ‘extreme’ microbes, but be prepared to leave with more questions than answers.

Video of presentation

Biography: Dr. Julia Foght, Professor Emerita in the Biological Sciences Department, University of Alberta, is an environmental microbiologist and a past member of the Canadian Space Agency’s Astrobiology Discipline Working Group. Her interest in the field of Astrobiology arose from her fieldwork in Antarctica and research into microbes that live beneath glaciers from Nunavut and Alaska to New Zealand’s Southern Alps and the Transantarctic Mountains.