EAS Logo The Refractor


Bulletin of the Eastbay Astronomical Society
Founded in 1924 at Chabot Observatory, Oakland, California
Volume 77, Number 7, March 2001

[Front Page] [Ashen Light] [Observer's Notes] [Asteroid Mission] [Comet Comments] [Annual Dinner] [Schedule]

The Runaway Universe:
The Latest Developments in
By Dr.Donald Goldsmith, U.C. Berkeley (retired)

Speaker for the Annual EAS Awards Dinner
to be held Saturday, March 3, 2001

For years astronomers have known that the Universe is expanding. Gravity tends to slow expansion, so a pressing question seems to be whether the expansion will slow all the way to zero. Observations thought to resolve this question found instead a startling result: instead of slowing down, the universe is actually accelerating its expansion!

This result, first suggested by observations of supernova explosions in distant galaxies, has been confirmed during the past year by an entirely different set of observations of the unevenness in the cosmic background radiation. How can we explain this result? Come with us on a tour of cosmological thought and observation and hear Dr. Goldsmith give his best explanation of what we currently believe, and why, about the mighty cosmos in which we live. Dr. Goldsmith will also show his video explanation of cosmology that will leave you dying of laughter!

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1943 where his parents were both economists for the government, he graduated from Harvard College in 1963 and then received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from U.C. Berkeley, where he later became a professor. He is the award-winning author of The Ultimate Einstein, The Hunt for Life on Mars, and The Astronomers. Dr. Goldsmith also authored the book, Voyage to the Milky Way, and he served as a consultant for the video of the same title.

Gravity can bend light. Almost all of the bright objects in this Hubble Space Telescope image are galaxies in the cluster known as Abell 2218. The cluster is so massive and so compact that its gravity bends and focuses the light from galaxies that lie behind it. As a result, multiple images of these background galaxies are distorted into faint stretched out arcs - a simple lensing effect, similar to looking through a glass of wine. The Abell 2218 cluster itself is about 3 billion light-years away in the northern constellation Draco.

Gingrich is first: how to "see the light"

EAS's very own Mark Gingrich appears to be the first person in the world to figure out how to utilize an occultation of Venus as a way to verify the existence of the astronomical phenomenon known as Ashen Light. (Article here) Says Mark: "Oh, if you'll allow me to crow a bit.... I received an e-mail from Walter Haas, founder of the ALPO, who has had a keen interest in ashen light for over half a century. I thought I might tap into his encyclopedic knowledge of solar system observations by asking if he'd ever heard of anyone looking for ashen light during a lunar occultation of Venus. He went ga-ga with delight at the question, saying he'd never heard of anyone attempting it, and regretting that he was no longer young or wealthy enough to able to make an airplane reservation for a trip to the Marshall Islands this coming July. I figure, if Wally Haas hasn't heard of anyone trying this, then it indeed hasn't been done!"

6:30 pm, Saturday, 3 March 2001
Astronomy Hall, Dellums Building, Chabot Space & Science Center
10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland (510) 420-8600
Please call Don Stone at (707) 938-1667 by Friday, 27 February to confirm your place.

[Top of Page
[Return to EAS Home Page]