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Public Lecture on Search for Other Earths Set for April 25

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April 22, 1999 -- Daniel Weedman, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, will present a free public lecture, titled "NASA's Origins Program: Seeking Other Earths," at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, in 101 Thomas Building on Penn State's University Park Campus. His lecture will focus on the development of NASA's space telescopes, which will be used to determine the existence of Earth-like planets around other stars.  The presentation will feature pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Weedman served as director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. from 1993 to 1995 while he was a member of the federal Senior Executive Service.  In that position, he was responsible for overseeing planning, development, and operations for all NASA astrophysics missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope.  Currently, he is a member of NASA's advisory committee, "Structure and Evolution of the Universe," and he participated in NASA's strategic planning for space science missions through 2010.

He is a member of the team that is building the spectrometer for the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), one of NASA's "Great Observatories," which is scheduled for launch in 2001.  SIRTF will be NASA's first big step toward developing missions that can discover Earth-like planets in other parts of the universe.

Weedman and Lawrence Ramsey, also a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State, co-invented the concept for one of the largest and most powerful telescopes in the world, the William P. Hobby-Robert E. Eberly Telescope.  This new telescope saw its first starlight in 1996 and is expected to begin working full time in 1999.  It is the world's first major telescope designed for spectroscopy--the collection and analysis of light from objects such as comets, planets, stars, and galaxies.  Its innovative, precision design received the Discovery Magazine Award for Technological Innovation in 1997.

Weedman's lecture is part of a series hosted by the Penn State 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.  There will be an opportunity to meet with Weedman and other Penn State astronomers and astrophysicists following the lecture.

For more information or access assistance, call 814-865-0418.

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