The monthly meeting of Sydney City Skywatchers is held in the Discovery Room at Sydney Observatory on the first Monday of each month. Meetings include a special presentation from a guest speaker, information about upcoming events, member’s reports and astronomy news. Meetings commence at 6:30pm and non-members are welcome to attend for a donation of $5. Learn more about Skywatchers.
Next Meeting is Monday February 6, 2017
**UPDATE (Mon 06 Feb): Unfortunately our speaker has fallen ill and cannot talk tonight. Instead we will have a program of member reports, a look at upcoming astronomical events during 2017 and, weather permitting, we will get some telescopes out and view some of the wonderful summer objects presently high overhead. We apologise for this late notice.**
Talk Title: Breakthrough Starshot
The Breakthrough Starshot program is led by billionaire Russian physicist Yuri Milner. The Breakthrough Initiatives group has an advisory committee which is filled with reputable scientists, and a board of directors that includes cosmologist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The grant program will be studying whether it would be possible that a fleet of wafer-sized spacecrafts, equipped with reflective sails, could be blasted with lasers, accelerated to 20% the speed of light, and sent to our stellar neighbour, Alpha Centauri, arriving in a couple of decades. During the presentation, I will be discussing this program and asking questions about the engineering challenges that span every aspect of the program; for example, what will enable the probes to communicate over such vast distances? Can they be steered within camera range of an extrasolar planet? Breakthrough Initiatives believes its sail nanocraft could be mass-produced at the cost of an iPhone. If that turns out to be the case, could fleets of tiny explorers be sent all over the solar system and beyond? This would certainly be revolutionizing the field of planetary science and exploration.
Elyse Hargreaves is an enthusiastic supporter of space travel and science. As a result, she is volunteering her spare time to The Planetary Society, a US based non-profit organisation. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman and Bruce Murray, this organization is dedicated to education, investing in innovative technology to advance space exploration, defend Earth against hazardous asteroids, further the understanding of the worlds in the solar system, find and understand planets outside of our solar system and to seek evidence of life beyond Earth. Her remaining spare time is devoted to her biggest passion, the Philosophy of Science; and she is currently studying this field of endeavor.