February Meeting

The next WAS meeting will be held on:

Wednesday 1 Feb 2015 at 7:30 pm
Space Place, Carter Observatory
Upland Road,

Topic: New Zealand’s last living MOA (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics)
Presenter: Alex Thom

Hear about the ongoing search for extra-solar planets on New Zealand’s largest telescope, the MOA. Alex recently spent a year working as a research assistant on the MOA project with a small team of six at Mt. John Observatory in Lake Tekapo. Using Gravitational Microlensing as a technique for discovering new worlds, the MOA team aims to find small, Earthlike planets which typically elude the prevailing Transit and Doppler Shift techniques. Alex will present a firsthand account of what it’s like working the dusk till dawn shift in one of the darkest and southern-most observatories in the world.

Alex has a B.S. in Astronomy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. Graduating in 2012, he worked several years in Education and Public Outreach at LASP (The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics) before moving to New Zealand. Once here he was offered a position in the small village of Lake Tekapo working on the MOA project and giving supplemental Astronomy tours. After his research, he recently moved here to Wellington to join the team at Carter Observatory.