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“The Greeks, Einstein, and Alien Worlds: The Importance of Eclipses”

Most of us just witnessed the Great Solar Eclipse of 2024. A total solar eclipse is both majestic and humbling, an experience humanity has shared for tens of thousands of years. But we also use eclipses for science. The Greeks could measure the distance to the Moon and even get a rough distance to the Sun using eclipses. Eclipses were used to test and verify Einstein’s theory of gravity. We have used them to measure the diameters of stars. And to me, most intriguing, we use eclipses to find alien planets in our search for life elsewhere in the Universe. Come explore the science of eclipses, which has profoundly influenced discovering our place in the Cosmos.

About Nicholas Suntzeff

Professor Suntzeff, who joined the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty in 2006, is an observational astronomer specializing in cosmology, supernovae, stellar populations and astronomical instrumentation. He co-founded the High-Z Supernova Search Team along with Brian Schmidt that co-discovered dark energy in 1998, a finding honored as Science magazine’s “Scientific Breakthrough of the Year” for 1998 across all science disciplines, with the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Dr. Suntzeff headshot

Dr. Nicholas Suntzeff

Distinguished professor of Physics & Astronomy, Texas A&M University

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