Event Date:

Thursday, December 17

7:00pm (CST)


Patrick Hartigan

Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Rice University


Like they do every 20 years, Saturn and Jupiter have been approaching one another in the sky, and next week on the evening of December 21 they will be at their closest (in conjunction). This year's conjunction is a particularly close one - these two planets have not been observable this close in the night sky since the Middle Ages. This talk will go over various aspects of the 2020 conjunction from the elementary to the more complex, and describe how to view the event. As there has been a lot of press about the Star of Bethlehem, there will also be a short discussion as to how unusual the planetary conjunctions were that occurred around the time of Jesus.

Dr. Hartigan studies phenomena associated with young stars, including accretion disks, stellar jets and shock waves, and the characteristics of the young stars themselves. He uses the Hubble Space Telescope as well as ground-based telescopes and combines these data with theoretical models to better understand how stars form in our galaxy, and to develop a picture of what conditions were like when our own solar system was born.