On Thursday, April 2nd, the science café, which was held in the café of the university, was dedicated to astronomy, namely ‘the birth and death of stars’. During the event, participants had the opportunity to learn about new discoveries in the field of astronomy and ask any burning questions they may have had.
Astronomy first appeared as a science 400 years ago and 2009 is being recognised as the international year of astronomy. In honour of this, events are taking place all over the world. In Latvia, these events are being coordinated by the Latvian Astronomy Society, Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Centre, and the LU Astro-Spectroscopy Laboratory (which is part of the university’s Laser Centre).
This year will also see special events take place in the skies above. On July 22nd, the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century is due to take place. Unfortunately for local stargazers, it will only be visible in India, Bangladesh, and China. November will see a powerful meteor shower, with possibly up to 500 shooting stars a minute. Finally, if you happen to be at the North Pole around the middle of October, at twilight it should also be possible to see the planet Jupiter.
In the Science Café, astronomers told those present about several phases of stars’ development – how stars are born and how they die, and how the lives of stars influence human life on Earth. No matter from where we look at the stars on Earth, they appear dim, sometimes even dull. This is due to the influence of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Researching the stars is not merely a scientific interest; it is also fascinating and romantic. Let’s look at the night sky and find out!