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Department of Physics
Events

Stanford University’s Astronomy Program presents

28th Annual Bunyan Lecture
Thursday, March 10, 2011 @ 7:30pm

Free and Open to the Public
Braun Auditorium, Mudd Chemistry Bldg
333 Campus Drive [map]

"Light and Shadow: Kepler’s Search for Habitable Worlds"

Natalie M. Batalha
San Jose State University
Associate Professor
Deputy Science Team Lead of Kepler Mission

Humankind's speculation about the existence of other worlds like our own turned into a veritable quest with the launch of
NASA's Kepler spacecraft in March 2009. The mission is designed to survey a slice of the Milky Way Galaxy to identify
planets orbiting other stars. It looks for the telltale dimming of light that occurs when an orbiting planet passes in front of the
star thereby casting a shadow into space. The roster of exoplanets discovered by Kepler has reached 15 in number, including
one world that is unquestionably rocky in composition. Moreover, the team has released a catalog of more than one thousand
stars showing the recurring dimmings of light that suggest the presence of a planet. The methods used to identify planets will
be described in this talk as well as the discoveries that have been announced to date. Now beginning its third year of
operation, Kepler is honing in on the answer to the question that drives the mission: are potentially inhabitable worlds
abundant in our galaxy.

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Each year the Stanford Astronomy Program organizes the Bunyan Lecture, named for James T. Bunyan, a member of the Hoover Institution whose will specified that his estate endow lectures that "inquire into man's changing vision of the cosmos and of human destiny as revealed in the latest discoveries in the fields of astronomy and space exploration."

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Note: Parking Structure 1 is near Mudd, and parking is free after 4pm on weekdays.