February is Mars Month at WAA

WAA Lecture Friday, February 11 at 7:30 pm via Zoom

Diurnal, Seasonal, and Inter-Annular Variations of Gases in the Mars Atmosphere
Br. Robert Novak, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of Physics, Iona College

The NASA Infrared Telescope is a 3.2-meter telescope located on top of Mauna Kea (4200 m above sea level) on the Big Island of Hawaii. iSHELL is a high resolution (R > 70,000) infrared spectrometer that was installed on the telescope in September 2016. Spectral/spatial images taken by iSHELL can detect gases in Mars’s atmosphere such as water (both H2O and HDO), carbon dioxide, and methane. Searches have been conducted for other organic gases, such as ethane and propane, but up to now, only methane has been positively detected. Since January 2017, Br. Novak has taken data to measure these gases during Mars’ early northern winter (January 2017, Mars Year 33), mid-northern summer (MY 34), mid-northern winter (MY 35), and early northern spring (MY 36). He will discuss the detection and variation of these gases in the course of a day, from season to season, and from one year to the next.

Br. Robert Novak was Chair of Physics at Iona. He works with the NASA Astrobiology group at Goddard Spaceflight Center, and has published a number of important papers on the Martian atmosphere and evidence for an ocean on Mars in the distant past.


January 14th Lecture

On-line via Zoom. 7:30 p.m.

Building a Gravitational Wave Telescope out of Stars

Tyler Cohen, BSc
Graduate Research Assistant, New Mexico Tech

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime. A consequence of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, they were first detected from inspiraling black holes in 2015 by LIGO. Now, another observatory is on the verge of detecting gravitational waves of a different sort. Its detector is the size of the Milky Way galaxy and constructed from some of the most exotic stars in the universe. Tyler will discuss how the North American Nano-hertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves uses pulsar timing to search for low-frequency gravitational waves, and the premier radio telescopes that this work has brought him to.

Tyler Cohen is a PhD student at New Mexico Tech and a tour guide at the Very Large Array radio telescope in New Mexico. A Westchester native and former WAA member, he went on to receive his BSc. in physics and astronomy at Stony Brook University. He has since worked at the Gemini Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii and Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.



November Meeting: Friday, November 12, 7:30 p.m.

On-line via Zoom

Magnetic Anomalies on the Moon

Dany Waller

Graduate Student, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Swirls are a unique class of lunar features. They occur across all types of terrain on the Moon and are associated with strong magnetic anomalies. Although the Moon does not currently have an active magnetic field like Earth, it may have had one in the past. The current magnetic anomalies may be left over from that time. Magnetic fields can provide radiation protection from the solar wind, influencing physical and chemical properties of lunar soil.



WAA January 10th Meeting


Lecture Friday, January 10th at 7:30 pm

Lienhard Hall, 3rd floor, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

Why Go Back to the Moon?

Andy Poniros

NASA Solar System Ambassador

Andy has been a NASA volunteer since 1997 and a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador since 2004. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering and has worked as a Medical Imaging Engineer for 45 years. He is certified by NASA to handle Lunar samples, is a science correspondent for radio station WPKN in Connecticut where he produces astronomy and space mission radio shows and podcasts. He’s also an amateur astronomer and telescope maker.

Pre-lecture socializing with fellow WAA members and guests begins at 7:00 pm!