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AstroBreaks are free planetarium shows from 12:15-12:45 pm on select Wednesdays. All are welcome!

Each program includes a description of the night sky and some of its treasures, along with an exploration of a special astronomical topic. Past AstroBreaks can be found here.

Spring 2016

January 6 – Highlights of the UWM Planetarium
Speaker: Director, Jean Creighton
The UWM Planetarium is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Jean Creighton is excited to share her favorite moments from programs and events during the last ten years.

January 20 – Galaxies in a different light
Speaker: Postdoctoral researcher, Angela Van Sistine
We have all seen beautiful galaxy pictures taken with light our eyes can see. But, what do galaxies look like in light that is not visible to our eyes?

January 27 – Einstein’s Last Prediction
Speaker: Director, Jean Creighton
What were some of Einstein’s big ideas? Found out about his four important predictions and which ones have been confirmed.

February 3 – Gravitational waves
Speaker: Graduate student, Alex Urban
Across the gulf of space, a spectacularly violent, industrial-strength explosion sends ripples through the very fabric of reality itself. The LIGO project is a pair of massive, miles-long, delicately sensitive laser arrays capable of listening for these ripples, and when LIGO began observations in September 2015, we opened up a brand new new sense onto the cosmos. Alex Urban will report on a 3-month stay at one of the LIGO detectors last autumn, sharing his experiences from the front line of this very exciting time in astronomy.

February 10 – Winter Stars and their myths
Speaker: Director, Jean CreightonEmbrace the beauty of the winter night sky! Brush up on your mythology: learn the different common winter constellations and the myths associated with them.

February 17 – Colorful Nebula
Speaker: Director, Jean CreightonLearn about the beautiful clouds in space known as nebulae. Nebulae are connected to star’s life and can give insight on a star’s history. Famous nebulae such as the Eagle, Horsehead and the Cat’s Eye will be featured in the program.

February 24 – The Final Parsec Problem: Do Supermassive Black Holes Ever Coalesce?
Speaker: Graduate student, Joseph Simon
For supermassive black holes, a galaxy merger sets the stage for a collision course, and in the many years prior to coalescence the black holes should be detectable through gravitational radiation and other interactions with their environments. However, they remain elusive. Joseph Simon will present current research that delves into the final parsec approach of two supermassive black holes.

March 9 – Stellar Women
Speaker: Postdoctoral researcher, Danielle Berg
Many women contribute to astronomy today. Here is the story of a few of them.

March 23 – Paving the way to Einstein
Speaker: Graduate student, Kristina Islo
Einstein is often thought to be peerless: a physicist blessed with a mind capable of inventing beautiful theories in almost miraculous manner. Reality isn’t nearly so romantic. His work was not conceived in a vacuum, but was birthed into an already rich and exciting scientific culture. Often overshadowed are the scientists who laid forth the foundations on which Einstein stands. Learn about these physicists and mathematicians whose contributions to relativity set the stage for Einstein’s debut.

March 30 – Constellations of the Zodiac
Speaker: Director, Jean Creighton
Do you know why out of 88 constellations, only 12 make up the zodiac? Do you know what the names are for the 12? Learn several of the beautiful myths that go along with the zodiac constellations. In addition, see many state-of-the-art images of cool astronomical objects in these constellations.

April 6 – CERN and the Large Hadron Collider
Speaker: Graduate Student, Casey McGrath 
The Large Hadron Collider – the largest and perhaps the most complex scientific instrument ever constructed accelerates protons up to 99.999999% the speed of light and smashes them together in order to probe the very structure of the most fundamental building blocks of our universe. CERN, the “European Organization for Nuclear Research,” is the home of this ring collider buried deep beneath the French-Swiss boarder outside of the city of Geneva. But more than just the home of this famous instrument, CERN is the world’s leading particle physics collaboration, with 21 member countries, over 10,000 scientists, and 26 different experiments and facilities devoted to studying things like cosmic rays, nuclear physics, and antimatter. As a student and scientist who lived and worked on-site at CERN a few years ago, I look forward to giving you an insider’s look into this amazing world of technology and wonder, as together we explore what is CERN and the Large Hadron Collider.

April 27 – Fast Radio Bursts
Speaker: Postdoctoral Researcher, Joseph Swiggum
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are bright, dispersed, millisecond-duration signals of unknown origin. After their discovery in 2007 with the Parkes radio telescope, many similar-looking signals were found that turned out to be non-astronomical radio frequency interference (RFI), which cast doubt on FRBs’ existence.  FRBs have now been found with the Arecibo and Green Bank telescopes, vindicating their existence. Now, almost a decade after their discovery, a smoking gun has been found; the radio afterglow of the host galaxy of FRB 150418 may help shed light on the cosmic origins of FRBs.

May 4 – Stars in the Caribbean
Speaker: Director, Jean Creighton
Enjoy a starry show about the different constellations visibile in the Caribbean night sky.

May 11 – Neutron Stars
Speaker: Postdoctoral Researcher, Ryan Lang
When big stars die, they dramatically explode and leave behind very strange remnants called neutron stars.  These stars have about as much mass as the sun but are only the size of a small city.  Come find out what we have already learned about these exotic objects and what we hope to discover in the future.

May 25 – A Year in Space
Speaker: Planetarium staff
Learn about Scott Kelly’s year on the International Space Station. See some of his pictures and find out about the effects a year in orbit has had on his body relative to his Earthbound twin brother.

June 1 – A night of stars
Speaker: Planetarium staff, Charo Martin-Kingsby
Get ready for beautiful summer nights: a whole show on stars and constellations!