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Public Lecture on Searching for Extra-Solar-System Planets Set for November 22

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Technology for stargazing in the next millennium will be the focus of a free public lecture titled "Searching for Extra-Solar-System Planets: The Role of the New Generation of Large Ground-Based Telescopes" presented by Lawrence Ramsey, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 22, in 101 Thomas Building on Penn State's University Park campus.

Ramsey and Daniel W. Weedman, also a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, co-invented the concept for the William P. Hobby-Robert E. Eberly Telescope in 1983. Its innovative design dramatically reduces the cost of constructing large telescopes of its class. The telescope will enable astronomers to view very faint galaxies, distant quasars, and nearby stars. Located in the Davis Mountains in west Texas, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope saw its first starlight in December 1996. It is now in its commissioning phase, with science operations scheduled to begin in 1999. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope project is a partnership involving Penn State, the University of Texas, Stanford University and the German universities Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.

Ramsey, the Project Scientist for the telescope, has served on numerous national and international committees and is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the International Astronomical Union. In 1997, Ramsey's telescope design received the Discovery Magazine Award for Technological Innovation.

Ramsey received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1976. He began his professional career in 1966 as an aircraft and spacecraft simulations systems engineer at McDonnell Douglas Corporation. He was a research technician at Kitt Peak National Observatory and then joined Penn State in 1976.

Ramsey's lecture is one of a five-lecture series hosted by Penn State's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and largely funded by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Mr. Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors. Attendees will be able to meet Ramsey and faculty members from Penn State's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics following the lecture.


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