MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Public Lecture Series will present “Are We Alone? Detecting and Characterizing Extrasolar
Planets” on April 25 at 8 p.m. The free presentation will be in the F.W. Olin Engineering Complex auditorium, Room EC118.
The lecture is by Sam Durrance, Ph.D., retired astronaut and Florida Tech professor of physics and space sciences. He will explore whether the universe is
filled with Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
“Since the first planetary companion to a normal star like the sun was discovered in 1995, extrasolar planets have been detected at a rapid pace, with over
277 now found,” said Durrance. “Most of the newly discovered planets, however, are gaseous giants, like Jupiter, orbiting relatively close to their parent
star — quite unlike our solar system. They were discovered indirectly by observing the effect a planet has on its parent star rather than observing the
planet itself. Recently, two Earth-like planets were discovered orbiting a small nearby star. Might these planets harbor life? With our ever-improving
ability to observe extrasolar planets, will we soon be able to answer the age old question: Are we alone?”
There will be stargazing afterward, on the rooftop of the Olin Physical Sciences Building, weather-permitting, including through the university’s new 0.8-m
Ortega Telescope. The F.W. Olin Engineering Center is located on University Boulevard.
For more information, call (321) 674-7207, or visit www.fit.edu/aapls online for a map and directions.