Astro Night

Fri, August 03, 2018



Thursday, August 2nd

Film Screening: 7:30PM-8:30PM

Q&A with Film Director and Pulsar Science Expert: 8:30PM-9:00PM

Stargazing: 9:00PM-10:30PM



little green men is a documentary film about high school students searching for pulsars using radio astronomy data from West Virginia's Green Bank Telescope through the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC). 

Why little green men? No, our film isn’t about aliens, although Frank Drake did begin his search for extra-terrestrial life (SETI) at Green Bank. "Little Green Men,", or LGM-1, was the 'nickname' first given to an unknown radio signal discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell, then a graduate student at Cambridge. Once it became clear that the signal was not an alien communication, but rather radio waves emitted by a collapsed star, the name 'pulsar' was created to describe this newly discovered stellar object. 

So far our students have discovered eight new pulsars, including two rotating radio transients (RRATs), which are unusual pulsars with very sporadic emission. Our first discoverer – who was 15 at the time – was even invited to the White House for an event with President Barack Obama and Mrs. Obama.          






sarah jm kolberg is a film and visual culture scholar and has won several awards as a film producer, scholar, and writer. As the director of "little green men", the film has allowed her to live out her fantasy of an alternate career in astronomy. After more than a decade in state politics, sarah returned to graduate school to pursue her PhD. In addition to teaching film and art history at the University at Buffalo, she owns a public relations/political strategy consulting company working with a variety of clients, primarily arts and cultural not-for-profits. She holds an MA in film and literature, an MFA in film, an MA in visual culture, and expects to finish her dissertation in the next two years.    


Scott Ransom is a staff astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia and a Research Professor in the Astronomy Dept at the University of Virginia (UVA) specializing in pulsars. He is a founding member of the North American effort to directly detect nanoHertz gravitational waves using millisecond pulsars called NANOGrav, and his research in general focuses on finding new pulsars and using them to do basic physics.