Staerkel Planetarium to Host "Dark November" Events

Published on Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Staerkel Planetarium to Host "Dark November" Events

Dark Matter topic for show premiere, science talks

The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will celebrate "Dark November" with three events on the topic of Dark Matter.
Kaler Science Talk
First, University of Illinois astronomer Jeff Filippini will give a talk titled "The Dark Universe" as part of the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series. His presentation will be Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door, with free admission for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.
Over the past several decades, astronomers have been driven to a remarkable conclusion: The objects seen through telescopes form only the tiniest portion of the stuff of this Universe. The vast majority of the Universe is in unseen forms, different from anything known from the laboratory. Galaxies and galaxy clusters are held together by the gravitational pull of invisible clouds of Dark Matter, while a mysterious force called "Dark Energy" drives the Universe to expand ever faster. Dr. Filippini will take the audience on a tour of this invisible universe, from the evidence for its presence to the ongoing search to understand its nature.
Filippini is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and his PhD at University of California, Berkeley, where he searched for Dark Matter using advanced detectors located deep underground. After a postdoctoral position at California Institute of Technology, he arrived at UIUC in 2015. His research probes the history and workings of our cosmos using sensitive cryogenic detectors deployed at the South Pole and aboard stratospheric balloons.
Show Premiere
The Staerkel Planetarium opens a new fall show on Dark Matter called "Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter" at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. The show will run Friday and Saturday nights until the Thanksgiving weekend, when it will be replaced by "Season of Light."
From the journey of protons racing through the world's largest particle collider in Europe to up-close views of the Big Bang and emergent universe and the nearly mile-deep descent to an underground experiment in South Dakota, this planetarium show is designed to immerse audiences in the search for this elusive material. The hunt is on! Narrated by Tilda Swinton.
"Phantom of the Universe" tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students, seniors and children under 12, with free admission for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.
UIUC scientist Dr. Lauren Pearce will give a talk entitled "Dark Matter: Why Do We Think It's Out There?" Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Her talk, part of the monthly Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society meeting at the Staerkel Planetarium, is free of charge.
For centuries, astronomers have used their telescopes to study the wonders of the universe: planets, stars, galaxies, etc. In the last century, however, astronomers have started studying something they can’t see in their telescopes: Dark Matter. Pearce will examine the lines of evidence that have convinced astronomers Dark Matter is in fact out there. Audience members will even discover a little about its properties and, time permitting, will discuss some ideas about what it could be.
Pearce is a post-doctoral researcher and Fortner Fellow at the UIUC. She is a theoretical cosmologist whose work incorporates particle physics. Her current research focuses include connecting Higgs physics to the generation of the Universe’s matter/antimatter asymmetry and using the cosmic microwave background radiation to constrain interactions between the hypothesized inflation and other fundamental particles. Previously, she has worked on self-interacting Dark Matter models. A native of western Pennsylvania, she completed her PhD at UCLA and was previously a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota. 

A calendar of shows and presentations is available at the planetarium website.

Categories: General, Natural Sciences