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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Stars and Suds

Dr.+Casey+Papovich%2C+Professor+of+Physics+and+Astronomy+at+Texas+A%26amp%3BM%2C+gave+a+talk+titled+Measuring+the+Evolution+of+Galaxies+with+Hubble+%28and+Other+Telescopes%29.
Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Dr. Casey Papovich, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M, gave a talk titled “Measuring the Evolution of Galaxies with Hubble (and Other Telescopes)”.

Scientific outreach doesn’t have to be all about demonstrations for children in crowded hallways. Graduate students at A&M showed it can also look like a relaxing evening of beer and star talk, where locals can learn a thing or two about the galaxy we live in.
Astronomy on Tap (AoT) is a local event taking place monthly at Revolution Café and Bar in Downtown Bryan. The program is organized by graduate students from Texas A&M’s astronomy program. Alex Riley, a first year Astronomy graduate student, started-up the local AoT events in his down time.
“The deal is we get a bunch of astronomers to go hang out at a bar,” said Riley. “We invite the public and people who go to the bar regularly and give two super short, really accessible public talks. Then there’s just a bunch of astronomers chilling around, drinking beer, that you can ask questions.”
Riley said Astronomy on Tap occurs across the nation and has been running in its birth place, New York, for the last five years. He was inspired by an event he attended in Austin.
“We went out to Austin for an Astronomy conference and they had a special edition of their Astronomy on Tap,” Riley said.
The featured speakers have been a mixture of A&M graduate students and professors. In addition, the group has had some speakers from outside of the university, giving the public a unique opportunity to interact with astronomy experts from both near and far.
“Our second event was special because the Dark Energy Survey conference was happening here,” said Riley. “That one had two graduate students, one from University of Pennsylvania and one from University of Michigan. Having other perspectives and other research fields than what we have at A&M is important.”
Topics range from the speaker’s field of expertise to subjects suggested beforehand by the audience. Vince Estrada-Carpenter, third year graduate student in the astronomy program, studies galaxy evolution but gave a talk about the search for extraterrestrial life. He stressed the importance of AoT in giving scientists a means to practice interfacing with the public.
“This is my first general public talk,” said Estrada-Carpenter. “So this is a great opportunity through Astronomy on Tap.”
Each talk was followed by a round of questions, where locals could ask whatever was on their mind. Speakers were eager to provide answers. For example, Casey Papovich, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M, frequently responded to with an enthusiastic “That’s a very good question!”.
Elena Spencer, Class of 2014, said the event allowed her to understand research she wouldn’t usually recognize.
“I loved it.” Elena commented. “I thought it was really interesting and I’m sure the professor is used to lecturing, but to the laymen, he put it into very good terms that I could understand. It’s interesting to see research happening about something that I know not a lot about but that I see every night. It was cool to not pay for a class to take a class for a couple of minutes.”
Astronomy on Tap events happen the second Thursday of every month. To stay updated, follow the organization on Facebook or on Twitter (@AoT_BCS).

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