On July 17, a primitive solar system object that’s more than 6.5 billion kilometers away passed in front of a distant star as seen from Earth. Twenty-four telescopes and dozens of astronomers, including UVA faculty, staff, and students, were deployed by the New Horizons team to a remote part of Argentina in an effort to catch the shadow of the object - an event that's known as an occulation. Several telescopes, including one operated by UVA astronomer Anne Verbiscer, were in precisely the right place at the right time to catch its fleeting shadow.
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Three UVA undergraduates along with Astronomy faculty and staff mentors have returned from South Africa, data in hand, after an attempt to place three UVA telescopes in the path of the shadow of the faint distant Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69 as it passed in front of a distant star. This Kuiper Belt object is the target of a January 1, 2019 flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft, which encountered Pluto in the summer of 2015.
The Deparartment of Astronomy is pleased to announce the following awards presented at Final Exercises on May 20, 2017:
Scientists, including UVA astronomer Mike Skrutskie, have used the UVA built LMIRCAM on the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona to make a detailed map of the Loki Patera lava lake on Jupiter's moon Io. They have found evidence for two waves of overturning lava propogating around the lake.
Research Associate Tobias Fritz, along with graduate students Sean Linden and Paul Zivick in Nitya Kallivayalil’s Near-field Cosmology group, combined images from Gemini South’s wide-field adaptive optics system with data from the Hubble Space Telescope to determine the proper motion of a distant cluster of stars. The observations, the first to use ground-based adaptive optics to precisely measure the motion of a cluster at such a large distance, allowed astronomers to set a lower limit for the mass of our Milky Way while providing clues about the cluster’s origin.
Associate Professor Kelsey Johnson will be the next director of the Echols Scholars Program. She is an award-winning teacher and advocate for public astronomy education, whose research on galaxy evolution has earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and other prominent honors.
Professor Kelsey Johnson teaches her students to ask deep, meaningful, and provocative questions in her ASTR 1270 Unsolved Mysteries in the Universe course. See more about this amazing course from an inspirational teacher in this video at UVA Today.
University of Virginia astronomy-physics major Bridget Andersen has been awared a 2017 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Arvind Gupta, another astronomy-physics major, was one of two UVA students to receive honorable mentions. Congratulations to both Bridget and Arvind.
Associate Professor Kelsey Johnson hosted authors Dava Sobel (The Glass Universe, Galileo’s Daughter, Longitude, The Planets) and Margot Lee Shetterly (Hidden Figures) for a sold out show at the Paramount Theater on March 25th as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book. Their lively discussion on issues related to women and minorities in the history science and space exploration received a standing ovation.
With the APOGEE team celebrating first light at APOGEE-South, UVA Today looks back on the critical role that Mike Skrutskie and the Virginia Astronomy Instrumentation Lab has played in making the Astronomy Department at the University of Virginia a world leader in instrument design, construction, and research.
News & Announcements
September 12, 2018
University of Virginia astronomers Mike Skrutskie and Anne Verbiscer led a group of undergraduate UVA students to Sénégal to participate in a campaign to observe the occultation of a distant star... Read»
May 14, 2018
UVA astronomer Nitya Kallivayalil was interviewed on German public radio about the very rapid prepartion and submission of papers just after the second data release from the European Space Agency'... Read»