Quincy Astronomy Club to present ‘How big is our solar system?’ lecture on Thursday

solar system

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QUINCY — The Quincy Astronomy Club will be present a live Zoom lecture titled “How Big is Our Solar System” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 21, at John Wood Community College, Room D022, on the lower rear north end of Building D.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) at the Prague meeting in 2006 kicked “poor Pluto” off the list of planets. Club organizers say this decision left our solar system without proper representation for the vast region at greater distances beyond Neptune.  Most of the public now has a mistaken view that our solar system only extends only to Neptune, since Pluto is “off” the list of planets.

This distance is approximately 40 AU, where 1 AU is the average distance between the sun and the earth. In reality, the Oort cloud that surrounds the sun, and the source of many comets, may extend to distances of 100,000 AU. This is the boundary of our solar system and is roughly one-third of the way to the nearest star. This means that stellar systems over their lifetimes can easily interact with each other through their respective Oort clouds. This may have important implications for the spread of life throughout the galaxy.

The speaker for the lecture will be Dr. Fred Bruhweiler, who grew up in West Quincy, Mo. Bruhweiler received his doctorate from the University of Texas and has published results spanning a wide range of astrophysical topics. He retired as professor and director of the Institute for Astrophysics and Computational Sciences at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is now physicist-in-residence and research professor at American University, also in Washington, D.C. He has maintained an affiliation with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center since 1978.

For more information, contact Susan Asher by calling 217-653-5074 or asherte@yahoo.com

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