February 8, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Planetarium Presents “Whispers from the Cosmos” Feb. 10

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Planetarium will present “Whispers from the Cosmos” at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. The presentation is free of charge and open to the public.

“… we will dive into the delicate signals of gravitational waves, produced by decidedly not-so-delicate supernovae explosions and collisions of black holes and neutron stars,” according to VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences.

“In 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, which is funded by the United States National Science Foundation and operated by the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, twice detected the ‘chirp’ of black hole mergers. The fabric of space time had been so disturbed by rapidly orbiting black holes spiraling into each other that ripples of space time, the gravitational waves, traveled outward through the universe, only to be picked up by the twin detectors of the advanced LIGO instrument. The LIGO detections provide more support for Albert Einstein’s 100-year-old theory of general relativity, in which he predicted gravitational waves.

“We can’t ‘see’ black holes — light can’t escape from them — but gravitational waves give us another way to detect these violent events.”

During the presentation, Dr. Martha Leake, professor of physics and astronomy at VSU, will lead attendees into a black hole. 

Seating for each of the three presentations is limited to 47 guests. Free admission tickets will be distributed beginning at 6 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis at the VSU Planetarium.

The VSU Observatory will be open from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting, allowing guests the opportunity to view Venus, Mars, the stars, and the penumbral lunar eclipse occurring on Friday. 

“The moon will rise at 6:12 p.m. while delicately eclipsed,” according to VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences. “Although it may be hard to tell that it’s not as bright as it was, it will reach a maximum shading at 7:43 p.m. and emerge from this partial shadow at about 9:53 p.m. Details can be found at https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/valdosta.

Located on the third floor of Nevins Hall, the VSU Planetarium features a Digitarium Kappa digital projector, which can reproduce the night sky as seen from anywhere on Earth or from the surface of any object in the solar system, at any time in history, past or future. This technology is the first of its kind in the world.

Limited parking will be available in front of Nevins Hall and across Patterson Street.

Planetarium public outreach shows are appropriate for children ages 5 and up. Upcoming presentations include “The Soot Between the Stars” on Friday, March 10, 2017.

Contact VSU’s Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at (229) 333-5752 for more information.

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