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Meet the Astronomer Talk + Telescope Viewing

November 17, 2022 @ 7:00 pm

Meet the Astronomer Talk + Telescope Viewing in Brentwood, TN.

An astronomer or scientist will discuss a topic of current interest and includes Q&A. A telescope viewing follows, weather permitting.

One of our most popular speakers, Vanderbilt’s Dr. David Weintraub, will discuss his newest book The Sky Is for Everyone, which is a collection of autobiographical essays by women from twenty different countries who broke down barriers and changed the face of modern astronomy.

Before 1900, a woman who wanted to study the stars had to have a father, brother, or husband to provide entry. Well into the 20th century, the intellectual skills of women astronomers were often still not enough to enable them to pry open the doors of opportunity. Today, women are closer to “holding up half the sky” than ever before, though probably with some territory still to be claimed.

Weintraub will describe his work in bringing together these stories and mention some of the highlights readers can look for in the book. Hear about Indian astronomer Poonam Chandra, who was taught that the point of educating a girl was to ensure she was obedient so that her future in-laws would like her; in 2021, she was named the winner of the Modali award by the Astronomical Society of India for astronomical work done in India over the previous decade. And hear about Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who was told that geology was a more suitable profession than astronomy for a woman; she chose astronomy, discovered the first known neutron stars (pulsars) while a graduate student, and in subsequent interviews was asked by reporters about her bust size, her hip and waist measurements and her boyfriends. Her advisor later received a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery she made. And hear about others, like France Cordova and Meg Urry, who helped break the glass ceiling in astronomy and who are now working to level the playing field.

About the speaker: Dr. David A. Weintraub is a Professor of Astronomy at Vanderbilt University where he founded and directs the Communication of Science and Technology program and does research on the formation of stars and planets. He has secondary appointments in History and in the Communication of Science and Technology.

He is the 2015 winner of the Klopsteg Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers, which recognizes the outstanding communication of the excitement of contemporary physics to the general public. His most recent book is The Sky is for Everyone: Women Astronomers in Their Own Words (2022, Princeton University Press). Previous books include Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go (2018, PUP), Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal With It? (2014, Springer), How Old is the Universe? (2010, PUP), and Is Pluto a Planet? (2006, PUP). He is also created the Who Me? series of scientific biographies for fifth-grade level readers and is co-editor of three published books and six in-development books in this series, most of which are being written in partnership with Vanderbilt undergraduates.

Book reviews:

“These stories will absolutely inspire our next generation of female scientists. . . . [The Sky is For Everyone] is an absolute must-read for any young lady who is thinking of starting a career in astronomy. The same applies to anybody who is interested in the history of women in astronomy.”

—​​​​​​​Mary McIntyre, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

“I thought I had written the definitive book about women in astronomy, but I bow to The Sky Is for Everyone. Its authors are the observatory directors, the university professors, the leaders of the international research teams that launch telescopes into space and draw down the secrets of the cosmos, each one telling her own story of a life in science.”—Dava Sobel, author of The Glass Universe

Attendance notes:

All ages are welcome, but this talk is recommended for ages 10 and up.

  • You do not need to bring a printed ticket; there will be a guest list at the gate.
  • The exhibits on the main floor are handicapped accessible, but the Seyfert telescope on the second floor is only accessible by stairs. There are twenty steps, split by a large landing, leading to the dome. Climbing additional portable steps may be necessary to see through the eyepiece.
  • Notify the gate attendant if you have special parking needs.
  • Closed-toe footwear is suggested.
  • If your plans change and you cannot attend, you may invite someone you know to use your tickets/names for entry.
  • Because this is Vanderbilt University property, firearms and smoking are not allowed.
  • Please let us know when you get your tickets if someone in your group cannot climb the stairs, so we may attempt to make some accommodation with another telescope if skies are clear enough for viewing.

Address: 1000 Oman Drive, Brentwood TN 37027 (NOT on the main Vanderbilt campus)

Cost:  $6.27 per person ($5.00 admission plus $1.27 online handling fee.) Each person must have their own reservation. Infants do not require tickets.

NO TICKETS SOLD AT DOOR. Tickets may be purchased up to the day of the event, but please be aware this event often sells out well ahead.


Images: Princeton University Press, Daily Herald Archive/SSPL/Getty,


Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory
1000 Oman Drive
Brentwood, TN 37027 United States
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(615) 373-4897
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