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Mtg, Cranbrook Observatory / Planetarium tour, & talk: The Launch of LightSail 2

December 2, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

At the Warren Astronomical Society’s Cranbrook meetings, we spend the first hour or so of the meeting on club business and observing reports, then have two presentations, one short and one full-length.

We have a special and unusual evening ahead of us! Here’s the schedule for the evening:

7:30-7:45 – intro, officer reports
7:45-8 – in the news / in the sky
8-8:15 – short talk: the Launch of Lightsail 2
8:15-8:30 – snacks / trip to planetarium
8:30-9 – planetarium show
9-9:30 – observatory tour (observing if possible) – group 1 (other group snacks/talks)
9:30-10 – observatory tour (observing if possible) – group 2 (other group snacks/talks)

Short Talk: “The Launch of Lightsail 2” by Professor Jerry Dunifer

The Planetary Society was started in 1980 by Carl Sagan and others to advocate for space and planetary science funding in government, to inspire and to educate people around the World, and to develop and fund groundbreaking space science and technology. The organization is supported by over 50,000 members in over 100 countries and by hundreds of volunteers around the World. The CEO of the Society is currently Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

One of the long-term projects supported and funded by The Planetary Society has been the launch of a reflective sail into orbit around the Earth. The sail is designed to reflect light from the Sun in such a manner that energy acquired from the sunlight is used to boost the sail into a higher orbit, further from the Earth. Three attempts to launch an orbiting sail have taken place over the years with the last two being successful. The most recent launch, that of LightSail 2, took place on June 25, 2019 using the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket currently available in the USA.

The talk will present an eye-witness account of the launch, a discussion of the science of sailing on sunlight, and report on the success of the mission.

Jerry Dunifer is a Professor Emeritus at Wayne State University. He was a member of the faculty in the Department of Physics & Astronomy for 35 years before retirement. While active in the Department he served as a Professor and Associate Chair of the Department for several years. His research program there involved the study of the electrical and magnetic properties of high-purity metals at a temperature of 1 Kelvin. He also played an active role in the astronomy programs of the Department, including the WSU Planetarium and telescopic observing facilities.

Since retirement, one of Jerry’s hobbies has been visiting a number of the major and historic astronomy observatories around the World. He has visited dozens of different sites and has traveled as far as the geographic South Pole and the geographic North Pole, and many places in-between. With this talk, he’s expanded his focus to include spaceflight events as well!

Feature Event: Cranbrook Observatory/Planetarium Tour

For the rest of our evening, we will explore Cranbrook! We’ll have a special planetarium show for us led by Jan Fiolka, followed by an observatory tour and possibly observing.

After each Cranbrook meeting of the Warren Astronomical Society, a number of Club members go to the Redcoat Tavern (31542 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, MI 48073) for a snack and/or a drink and informal chat. Guests are also invited to join us there.

Directions: Head south on Woodward. The Redcoat will be on your left, on the east side of Woodward, two blocks north of 13 Mile and just north of Burger King. Make a Michigan left and find parking either in front or the large back lot.

If you would like to present either a short talk (10-15 minutes) or a full-length talk (45-60 minutes) at a future meeting, please email Jonathan Kade at firstvp@warrenastro.org.

The views expressed in presentations are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent, and should not be attributed to, the Warren Astronomical Society.

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December 2, 2019
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category:


Cranbrook Institute of Science
1-27 Institute Way
Bloomfield Hills, US


Warren Astronomical Society

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