Searching for Exoplanets from Westminster's Observatory
Faires Faculty Forum Podcast Project featuring Dr. Tom Oberst
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 21:02
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa.-- When it comes to the final frontier, Dr. Thomas Oberst wants to explore it with his students from the observatory platform at Westminster College. Oberst, Westminster assistant professor of physics and director of the Westminster Planetarium, has used some resourceful techniques to track down and detect exoplanets from the humble operations in New Wilmington. Oberst presented his research "Searching for Exoplanets" at the Faires Faculty Forum on Sept. 12 in the Sebastian Mueller Theater of the McKelvey Campus Center.
Oberst explained an exoplanet is a planet that orbits other stars and is currently one of the hottest topics in astronomy. Now hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered, many of very different from the planets of our own solar system. Exoplanet discoveries are shifting the what we know about how planets form. Oberst addressed how he and his students use the "transit" method of locating exoplanets. They have successfully tracked and identified some of these objects from the campus observatory. Oberst is now developing his plans to hunt for new exoplanets.
Oberst, who has been with Westminster since 2008, earned an undergraduate degree from Duquesne University and master's and Ph.D. from Cornell University. He is also the director of the Westminster College Planetarium and Observatory.
The Faculty Forum was established in 1990 by Dr. Barbara Faires, Westminster professor of mathematics emerita, during her term as dean of the college and vice president for academic affairs. It is a unique venue that celebrates faculty teaching, research and passion for scholarship while also serving as platform for peer review and reflection.
Faculty members from all disciplines volunteer to present lectures on their current research, artistic productions, and scholarship of teaching and learning. Each forum presents new ideas with innovative lecture techniques.