SJAA Ephemeris March 2011 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next

Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures

Chris McKay on March 9, 2011 at 7 p.m.

Andrew Fraknoi


On Wednesday, Mar. 9th, 2011, at 7 pm, Astronomer Chris McKay, from NASA’s Ames Research Center, will give a non-technical, illustrated talk on: Saturn’s Moon Titan: A World with Rivers, Lakes, and Possibly Even Life as part of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures in the Smithwick Theater, Foothill College, El Monte Road and Freeway 280, in Los Altos Hills, California. Free and open to the public. Parking on campus costs $2. Call the series hot-line at 650-949-7888 for more information and driving directions. No background in science will be required for this talk.

Titan, Saturn’s largest satellite, is the only moon with a thick atmosphere. The Cassini mission, now orbiting Saturn, has sent back remarkable images and information from Titan, revealing one of the most intriguing and surprising worlds in the entire solar system. In many ways, Titan is a cold twin of the Earth, with liquid methane (swamp gas) playing the same role there as water plays on our planet. Life on Earth is based on liquid water; could there be life on Titan based on liquid methane?

Dr. McKay will discuss the new picture we have of Titan, with its lakes, its rivers, and its rocks made of water ice. He’ll show you a world unlike any that astronomers have seen so far.

Chris McKay is a planetary scientist with NASA whose research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He has been a co-investigator on the Huygens probe (that Cassini landed on Titan), the Phoenix Mars lander, and the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory mission. He has a wonderful knack for explaining scientific results in plain language and with a touch of humor.

Past Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures are now available in MP3 format at:

These talks are sponsored by NASA Ames, Foothill College, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the SETI Institute.


Previous | Contents | Next