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About Us: Seminars

September 21 - Calvin’s Variable Stars: Things that Go Blink in the Night

Student Andrew Hess, and Professors Molnar and Steenwyk, Calvin College

The large majority of stars, like our own Sun, emit light at a fairly steady rate for long periods of time (up to billions of years).  For the exceptional cases, the variable stars, the pattern of changing light with time is a clue to the nature of the distinctive phenomena occurring in those stars.   The time-intensive observations required to establish these patterns are ideally suited to moderate-sized telescopes like those of the Calvin Observatory.  In this presentation, we will describe the classes of variable stars and the questions that need to addressed to understand them more fully.  We will show how new variable stars are discovered and categorized at Calvin College, featuring new discoveries made this summer. Finally, we will illustrate how we determine basic stellar properties from the light variations.


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