The American Astronomical Society,
the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship Program,
the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society, &
the Department of Physics at Western Michigan University

proudly bring to Kalamazoo and SW Michigan Professor Jim Kaler who will present two lectures on the state of the cosmos...

Caption: a cluster of galaxies at a distance of 2 billion light years, each galaxy containing 10s or 100s of billions of stars. The arclets of light are still more distant galaxies whose images are distorted by the gravitational field of the foreground cluster, as predicted by Einstein. Image courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope.

FREE Public Lecture
Thursday, November 1, 2001
8 p.m.
1104 Rood Hall
Western Michigan University
This presentation is specifically geared to the interests of the general public.

     Spectacular Astronomy: New Results for a New Millennium

                                 James B. Kaler
                         Department of Astronomy
                             University of Illinois

The twentieth century brought amazing advances in our knowledge
of the cosmos.  We seem to be at the edge of understanding the
nature of the Universe.  Yet astronomers, from Aristotle to Hubble,
have always thought that necessary way.  And always they have been
surprised.  What have the past millennium, century, decade - the last
year - wrought?  How close are we to a full understanding of our
celestial surroundings?  Spectacular new telescopes and technologies
await, both to solve old problems and - if the past is any predictor at
all - to find new mysteries we have yet to dream of.

The promotional poster is here. (obsolete link)

Special Colloquium
Friday, November 2, 2001
4 p.m.
1110 Rood Hall
Western Michigan University
This is a technical presentation, but open to the community.

   Two Hundred and Sixteen Years of Planetary Nebula Research

                                  James B. Kaler
                         Department of Astronomy
                             University of Illinois

Planetary nebulae, bright expanding shells of dusty gas that
surround hot blue stars, are the ejected envelopes of giant stars
whose hydrogen fusion chain has shut down, the central stars the
giants' old nuclear-burning cores.  Illuminated by photoionization
by ultraviolet radiation from the hot core, the nebulae tell us a
great deal about the processes that take place in dying stars and
are an important interface in the recycling process that mixes
enriched stellar matter back into the interstellar medium.  The
colloquium will give an overview of the subject from discovery
through modern advances, focusing on the chemical compositions,
structures, and evolution of the nebulae, and on the conditions in
the central stars, which are in the process of becoming white

The colloquium announcement flier is here.

Ring Nebula
Caption: The "death shroud" of a low mass star like our Sun, otherwise known as a planetary nebula. Dubbed the "Ring Nebula," it lies 2300 light years away in the constellation Lyra. This shell of glowing gas is the former envelope of the star at center, thrown out into space at the end of its life. The central stellar remnant has contracted to become what is known as a ``white dwarf,'' just a bit larger in size than our Earth. The energetic light from its hot surface excites the atoms in the surrounding shell of gas to glow at different wavelengths of light. Image courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Biographical Sketch

James B. (Jim) Kaler, Professor of Astronomy, earned his A.B. at the University of Michigan, his Ph.D. at UCLA, and has been at the University of Illinois since 1964. His research area, in which he has published over 100 papers, involves dying stars. Prof. Kaler has held Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships, has been awarded medals for his work from the University of Liège in Belgium and the University of Mexico, and most recently was selected to give the Armand Spitz lecture by the Great Lakes Planetarium Association. He has written for a variety of popular and semi-popular magazines (including Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, and Scientific American), was a consultant for Time-Life Books on their Voyage Through the Universe series, appears frequently on Illinois television and radio, and has produced several books, including Stars and their Spectra (Cambridge), Stars and Cosmic Clouds (Scientific American Library), The Ever-Changing Sky (Cambridge), Astronomy! A Brief Edition, (Addison-Wesley), and the recently published The Little Book of Stars (Copernicus) and Stars at the Edge (Cambridge). He is a current member of the Board of Directors of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and is a past president of the Board of the Champaign-Urbana Symphony.

Kirk T. Korista
(then) Assistant Professor of Astronomy
Department of Physics
Western Michigan University
last modified: 29 March 2007