Thursday 26th February 2015

The last of the astronomy days will be spent with staff and students from the University of Arizona in Tucson.  After all the travelling of the previous days today is a walking day.

The morning will consist of a lecture on Cosmology given by Prof Don McCarthy.

Having seen his personal website here , it appears it could be a very interesting morning in more ways than one.  I have struggled with cosmology – how can we really extrapolate from the small amount of knowledge of the Universe we have to determine the start and future of it all?  So it will be good to listen and hopefully have a chance to chat around it too.

This will be followed by a tour of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab

Mirror making has come a long way since Newton!  The Mirror Lab produces mirrors with a honeycomb structure which are lightweight but still robust and stable.  I knowing how fast optics make observing much easier, but I was still surprised to read that the typical focal ratios for these mirrors are between f1.25 to f1.14 .  The accuracy of the process must be mightily impressive, particularly when they range in size up to 8.4m!

There are some fascinating facts here.  And some pictures and explanation here:


In the afternoon there will be a visit to the Lunar and Planetary Lab with Jim Scotti.

Given Jim’s research interests include comets I’m hoping that we will get to discuss some of the findings from Rosetta and of course Philae :-).

Here’s a link to my blog for the day to see how the plan turned into reality…..