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Provost Lecture Series: Earth's atmosphere a major nuisance in astronomy

3/2/2012

The Earth's atmosphere, though necessary to support life, is a major nuisance to accurate astronomical work. Instrumentation has improved over the past few decades to a point that the time-tested techniques to account for the effects of the atmosphere on astronomical data are no longer sufficient.

“With major new astronomical surveys beginning, advances in the techniques to account for the atmosphere are needed,” said Dr. J. Allyn Smith, associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Smith will discuss this topic in more detail as part of the next Provost Lecture Series session at APSU. He will speak at 3 p.m., Thursday, March 15 in the Morgan University Center, Room 307. The event is free and open to the public. The title of his talk is “The Earth's Atmosphere, a Major Nuisance in Astronomy.”

Smith will look at a brief history of the field of photometry for the early days of the science to modern surveys and describe the methods used to account for

the effect of the atmospheric component in the data. He also will discuss the science needs for current surveys as the driver for these new techniques.

Smith earned a Ph.D., two Master of Science degrees and a bachelor’s degree all from the Florida Institute of Technology. Formerly a visiting professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Wyoming, Smith has refereed nearly 100 publications and published several abstracts. He is recognized as an authority in large survey calibration and photometric standard star systems. He is currently involved in the Dark Energy Survey and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope projects.

Prior to APSU, Smith was a space shuttle orbiter test conductor for Rockwell International Corp. and Lockheed Space Operations Co. at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida from 1982-92; a visiting professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Wyoming; and most recently a staff member at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Other sessions in the Provost Lecture Series also are planned for the academic year. All sessions are from 3-4:30 p.m. in the MUC, Room 303 (unless noted otherwise) and include the following:

March 22: Dr. Sharon Mabry, professor of music

March 29: Dr. Cameron Sutt, assistant professor of history

April 5: Mark DeYoung, assistant professor of art

April 12: Dr. Tim Winters, professor of English

April 19, MUC 103: Dr. Jeffrey Wood, professor of music

The Provost Lecture Series seeks to foster a spirit of intellectual and scholarly inquiry among faculty, staff and students. The program will be used as a platform for APSU faculty members who are recent recipients of provost summer grants, who have been awarded faculty development leaves and who have engaged in recent scholarly inquiry during sabbatical leaves.

APSU faculty members with recent research of acclaim also will be given a platform within this series. In addition, other faculty members of local or widespread renown will be invited to lecture within this series.

For more information about the Provost Lecture Series, call Dr. Brian Johnson, assistant vice president of academic affairs at APSU, at (931) 221-7992 or email him at johnsonb@apsu.edu. - Dr. Melony Shemberger