Astronomy lectures at UW-Whitewater explore myths and reality

September 26, 2013

Mayan universeEarth can be a cosmically dangerous place, not just because of everyday challenges like fires, floods and auto accidents, but also because of threats from the sky above. 

Last year, some people thought the Earth would end on December 21 because of a supposed prediction of the Mayan calendar. This fall, the Whitewater Observatory Lecture Series, hosted by UW-Whitewater's Department of Physics, explores the truth behind the "Mayan Apocalypse" and looks at real dangers posed to Earth by objects in the sky.

"We hold these lectures to answer the public's questions about astronomy, as well as to dispel popular fictions such as the 'Mayan Apocalypse' and damage to the Earth by solar storms or supernovas," said Paul Rybski, associate professor of physics at UW-Whitewater and director of Whitewater Observatory.

Starting at 8 p.m. on Fridays, these lectures will take place in room 140 in Upham Hall.  Free parking is available in the unmarked and unmetered stalls in Lot 14, the Upham Hall parking lot, at the intersection of Starin Road and Prairie Street.

The lecture series schedule is:

  • October 4: "The Mayan Prophecy and the Mayan Calendar: the Anthropological and Astronomical Facts" by Joanne Burkholder, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, and Paul Rybski, Department of Physics.
  • October 11: "Recent Asteroid Discoveries and Possible Collisions with Earth" by Paul Rybski, Department of Physics.
  • October 18 : "Did a Cosmic Event Kill the Pleistocene Megafauna?" by Rex Hanger, Department of Geography and Geology
  • November 1: "Will Life on Earth Survive Deneb's Supernova?" by Robert Benjamin, Department of Physics.
  • November 8: "Reversal of Earth's Magnetic Field -- what really will happen?" by Juliana Constantinescu, Department of Physics.
  • November 15: "What Do We Know About the Russian Meteor Event?" by Paul Rybski, Department of Physics.

Rybski said the presentations "are designed as popular lectures, not seminars. They are intended for people of all ages who are interested in astronomy."

UW-Whitewater students, faculty members and the general public are invited to attend.  All lectures are free, and no reservations are needed.  Further information can be obtained from Rybski at 262-472-5766.


Sara Kuhl

Jeff Angileri