Our guest speaker will be University of Colorado researcher and professor, Dr. John Stocke, an extragalactic observer who uses all manner of space-based and ground-based telescopes to study normal and active galaxies, clusters of galaxies, and intergalactic gas. Prof. Stocke also has a deep fascination with archaeoastronomy, the study of astronomy and cosmology of ancient cultures.
Many ancient cultures were far more sophisticated in the science of astronomy than we have given them credit for. One such case that continues to impress is the Antikythera mechanism. Found in an ancient shipwreck near Greece by sponge divers around 1901, its purpose was almost pure speculation for decades. It exists in several fragments of fine gears and dials, heavily encrusted in sediments after millennia on the sea bottom. The wreck, which also carried many bronze statues, has been carbon dated to around 200 BCE.
Modern 3-D x-ray imaging techniques have revealed the details of the mechanism components, allowing them to be examined, reconstructed, and even reassembled. The reconstruction has revealed a shocking level of sophistication. The machine appears to be a highly accurate celestial computer, capable of predicting the positions of planets and the timing of celestial events, with impressive accuracy. It even has special gears that compensate for the effects of elliptical motions in the heavens.
Prof. Stocke will lead a full multi-media presentation about the device in the Fiske Planetarium theater. The program will start at 7pm sharp. Do not be late as the front doors may need to be closed when we begin the program due to a lack of lobby staff (this being a special BASS event, the full planetarium staff will not be present).
Parking is free after 5PM in lot 308 just west of the planetarium, or in lot 419 on the hill east of the Sommers-Bausch Observatory.