Department News

  • New Instrument Extends the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence to New Realms

    March 23, 2015

    From Astronomy Magazine: "Astronomers have expanded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light. Their new instrument has just begun to scour the sky for messages from other worlds. “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright from the University of California (UC) in San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics. Pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust…

  • Distant Supernova Split Four Ways by Gravitational Lens

    March 6, 2015

    From release by Robert Sanders:  "Over the past several decades, astronomers have come to realize that the sky is filled with magnifying glasses that allow the study of very distant and faint objects barely visible with even the largest telescopes. A University of California, Berkeley, astronomer has now found that one of these lenses – a massive galaxy within a cluster of galaxies that are gravitationally bending and magnifying light – has created four separate images of a distant supernova. The so-called “Einstein cross” will allow a unique study of a distant supernova and the distribution of dark matter in…

  • Meet Dan Werthimer

    February 23, 2015

    Watch the Berkeley SETI Research Center's video profile for Dan Werthimer, Chief Scientist and co-founder of SETI@home and long-time department member! Courtesy of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, Chris Schodt, and Steve Croft.  

  • Campbell Hall Construction Time Lapse

    February 19, 2015

    Courtesy of UC Berkeley Real Estate.

  • Astronomers, Physicists Celebrate as Campbell Hall Rises Again

    February 19, 2015

    After years of planning and construction, Campbell Hall (home of the Department of Astronomy) held it's official dedication ceremony last week. Donors, architects, and other project contributors were thanked during the event by speakers that included the new dean of physical sciences Frances Hellman, former Executive Dean Mark Richards, and Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.  Campbell Hall is the result of numerous funding efforts and campus collaborations, including the securing of grants, state-funding, and generous gifts from donors who were eager to invest in the new building. As the new occupants of Campbell Hall, the Department of Astronomy is already looking forward…

  • Google gives Lick Observatory $1 million

    February 13, 2015

    Copied from original article located here. By Robert Sanders - February 10th 2015 Google Inc. has given $1 million to the University of California’s Lick Observatory in what astronomers hope is the first of many private gifts to support an invaluable teaching and research resource for the state. The unrestricted funds, spread over two years, will go toward general expenses, augmenting the $1.5 million the UC Office of the President gives annually to operate the mountaintop observatory for the 10-campus UC system. “Lick Observatory has been making important discoveries while training generations of scientists for more than 100 years,” said Chris…

  • The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Astronomy

    November 14, 2014

    The Department of Astronomy presents: The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Astronomy "A Decade at Saturn" with Carolyn Porco, Director of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 5:00pm Lecture Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center UC Berkeley

  • Professor Eugene Chiang Receives 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award

    March 15, 2014

    On March 13th 2014, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced faculty member Dr. Eugene Chiang as a recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Chiang has been a professor with the Astronomy department since 2001 and currently serves as director of the Berkeley Center for Integrative Planetary Science. His research focuses on theoretical astrophysics, with an emphasis on understanding the origin of planetary systems, both extra-solar and solar. Dr. Chiang is an active member within the campus community: In addition to acting as head Graduate Advisor for the Astronomy Department, he serves on multiple committees which include the Berkeley Committee on…

  • Closest, brightest supernova in decades is also a little weird

    February 27, 2014

    A supernova discovered by Alex Filippenko and his research team is causing scientists to ask new questions about exploding stars and how we currently understand the expanding universe. Full article found here.

  • Cosmic Census Finds Billions of Planets That Could Be Like Earth

    November 4, 2013

    "One out of every five sunlike stars in the galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot, not too cold — where surface temperatures should be compatible with liquid water, according to a herculean three-year calculation based on data from the Kepler spacecraft by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Petigura’s analysis represents a major step toward the main goal of the Kepler mission, which was to measure what fraction of sunlike stars in the galaxy have Earth-size planets. Sometimes called eta-Earth, it is an…