MELBOURNE, Florida — The next presentation of Florida Institute of Technology’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Lecture Series, “Why I Helped Kill Pluto and Why it Had it Coming,” will be given by Terry Oswalt, professor and department head, Florida Tech Department of Physics and Space Sciences. The free lecture will be Sept. 28 from 8 to 9 p.m. in the F.W. Olin Engineering Complex, Room EC118, on campus. There will be a rooftop public star viewing following the presentation if weather permits.
Oswalt calls his presentation “a take-off on Michael Brown’s book by the same name.” Brown found most of the first dozen or so “Pluto-like” objects that prompted the debate about what is a planet.
This year is the sixth anniversary of Pluto’s “death” as a planet. Oswalt was one of the members who voted Pluto out at the International Astronomical Union meeting in Prague in August 2006.
Pluto is predicted to occult (cover up) a faint star on Sept. 8, an event that will be observed (conditions permitting) by astronomers using the university’s Ortega 0.8-meter reflecting telescope, the largest research telescope in Florida. The measurements obtained are expected to confirm the small size of this so-called “dwarf planet” and to determine whether it has an atmosphere. Oswalt’s lecture may include preliminary results of these observations.
The F.W. Olin Engineering Complex is located on West University Boulevard. For more information, call (321) 674-7207or visit www.fit.edu/aapls.