Infrared Astronomy:  More Than the Eyes Can See

The benefits of using infrared telescopes to unveil celestial objects not visible to the human eye will be demonstrated in a pair of free, public lectures to be held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Thursday, April 19, and at Pasadena City College on Friday, April 20.

The lectures, entitled "Infrared Astronomy: More Than the Eyes Can See," begin at 7 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The lecture will also be Webcast on Thurs., April 19, at 7 p.m. Pacific time.

The featured speaker is Dr. Michelle Thaller, a research scientist at the California Institute of Technology and JPL who divides her time between astronomical research and public education. Thaller's lecture will include a hands-on demonstration of an infrared camera.

Infrared cameras are used here on Earth by firefighters looking for people trapped in smoky rooms, and now astronomers are using infrared telescopes to penetrate the vast dust clouds that drift between the stars and block our view of the cosmos.

For her research, Thaller has used both ground and space-based telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope and Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz. She is currently working to support NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), scheduled to launch in July 2002. SIRTF will observe planetary construction zones around other stars and will look back to the time when galaxies were just starting to form and the first stars had not yet "turned on."

Thaller devotes more than half her time to public education and outreach as a representative for SIRTF and other Origins missions at JPL. Michelle frequently visits Los Angeles Unified School District classrooms and conducts regular teacher workshops in the L.A. metropolitan area.

The lecture at JPL, located at 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena, near the Oak Grove Dr. exit of the 210 (Foothill) Freeway, will be held in the von Karman Auditorium. The Friday lecture will be held in Pasadena City College's Forum at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.

For more information, call (818) 354-5011. Information on the von Karman lecture and Webcast is available at

JPL, a NASA center, is a division of Caltech.

News Media Contact

Jane Platt (818) 354-0880