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Mason Science Events

We are proud to share Mason Science events that are open to our alumni and friends. From department sponsored events to community lectures, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

Alumni Association EventsOngoing

The Alumni Association is the gateway to staying connected with Mason throughout your life. Through career connections and professional networking, traditional events, and opportunities for involvement, the Alumni Association connects you to the people, places, and programs you care about most at Mason.

For a full list of upcoming events hosted by the Alumni Association click here.

George Mason Statue

Evenings Under the StarsOngoing

The GMU Observatory is proud to host free public tours on alternating Monday evenings during the academic year, each beginning shortly after sunset. Please refer to our public events calendar for the next public night.

Unless otherwise noted, expect the scientific talks to last 30 minutes and their content to be appropriate for ages 5+. An approximate hour-long guided telescope tour* of that night’s sky will follow the scientific talk. To learn more about how to join Observatory Events please visit the GMU Observatory website.

GMU Observatory Dome

Galileo's Science CafeOngoing

Hosted by the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, Galileo's Science Cafe allows you to hear about the latest findings surrounding hot topics in science and medicine that affect our everyday lives and the decisions that we make! Bring your family and friends for a free, casual, interactive science discussion. Learn from the experts and speak with them.

In light of COVID-19 guidelines, Galileo's Science Cafe events were delayed, but are back on in a virtual setting. For more information about these events click here. Contact Andrea Cobb, PhD at acobb4@gmu.edu with questions.

Galileo Science Cafe

Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence Friday SeriesOngoing

The Center for Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence (CMAI) virtually meets on Fridays to discuss a variety of academic issues. The Center focuses on artificial intelligence, big data, control, optimization, anomalous (nonlocal) diffusion, nonlinear partial differential equations, with a broad range of applications.

Click here to see future topics and to register

GMU CMAI Data

Space "Tuesdays" with the Smithsonian Associates

Our Physics and Astronomy Department, as well as the faculty of the GMU Observatory are proud to partner with the Smithsonian Associates. These online lectures answer your biggest questions about our universe and include a remote tour of the observatory at Mason as well as a view of the night sky right in your living room. We just wrapped up our spring season, so click below for updates for the next event.

Click here to register!

Dumbell Nebula

Recorded Events

In this section you will find video and/or audio recordings of events which have been made available. 

The Mason Collective Impact Summer Speaker Series 2020

Date and Time: Thursday, July 23: 1 - 2:30 p.m.

The Mason Collective Impact Summer Speaker Series aims to provide a forum to explore diverse areas of public interest, discuss current trends, and introduce students, alumni, and community members to those Mason alumni supporters and faculty behind the ideas. On Thursday, July 23, we'll explore America's Health Landscape: The Innovators, Advocates, and Providers, as co-hosted by the College of Health and Human Services, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Science, and the School of Business.

Watch the video recording of this event.

Speakers:

The Health Implications of Digitization
Brad N. Greenwood, PhD
Associate Professor, Information Systems and Technology Management,
School of Business, George Mason University

Advocacy in a Time of Upheaval
Katherine Fry, MBA `18
CEO, America's Blood Centers

Using Virtual Care and Telehealth to Help Combat COVID-19
and Transform Care Delivery
Rod Cruz
General Manager, AT&T Healthcare Solutions

Value of Medicines and the Industry's Role in Fighting the Pandemic
Sharon Lamberton RN, MS `01 Health Systems Management
  Deputy Vice President, PhRMA

REVOLT, Civil Rights- A Social Determinant of Health

Tonga Turner, MS, MBA
Director of Community Health, Kaiser Permanente
Advisory Board Member, College of Health and Human Services

Antibiotic Resistance –How Komodo Dragons and Alligators can Defeat Superbugs

Monique van Hoek, PhD
Professor, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Associate Director of Research, School of Systems Biology
George Mason University

Climate Change, COVID-19, and Equity:
The Work of the Medical Society Consortium
Mona Sarfaty, MD, MPH, FAAFP

Executive Director, Medical Society Consortium for Climate and Health,
Center for Climate Change Communication
George Mason University

Mason Science Series: Breast Cancer at the Bedside

Breast Cancer at the Bedside: The Clinical Impacts of Proteomics on Early Detection and precision Medicine

Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Time: 4-5pm

Watch the video recording of this event.

On the front lines, Mason Science experts make cancer treatments personal.  In the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM), researchers focus on inventing proteomics-based technologies and methodologies for personalized therapies. Their work emphasizes biomarker discovery and an individualized multi-omics approach for direct clinical applications at the bedside. The team at CAPMM studies the proteomics of human tissue, cultured cells, and body fluids, using this set of novel technologies. Through ongoing human clinical trials and research programs at Mason these technologies are used to discover biomarkers for early stage disease detection, individualized therapy for metastatic cancers, and adjuvant therapy of premalignant breast cancer.

Mason Science Series: At the Scene of the Crime

At the Scene of the Crime: Modern Scientific Approaches for Studying the Time Since Death

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2020

Time: 4-5pm

Click here for the recording

Click here for the FAQ

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be at the scene of the crime? How forensic scientists are able to uncover clues about a case? This Halloween, hear first-hand from former FBI agents and Mason experts in the College of Science Forensic Science Program!  Learn how Mason Science is creating the most experiential and innovative programs for the next generation of forensic scientist. The talk will feature an exploration of the Mason's Forensic Science Research & Training Laboratory, a 5-acre outdoor, protected facility that is dedicated to studying the processes of human decomposition in various topographical and climatic conditions, environmental changes, soil composition, animal scavenging, floral diversity, identify insect species variation specifically for medical-legal applications, and developing new remote sensing methodologies and instrumentation. ​Students and faculty will also partner with federal agencies and US military organizations unlike any other university. Moreover, this facility promotes collegial collaborations with regional institutions, public and private laboratories, and facilitate community partnerships by providing a focal point for the training of local, state, and federal investigators, highlighting George Mason’s commitment to be on the forefront of the advancement of forensic science.

Mason Science Series: Protecting the Potomac

Protecting the Potomac: An Ecological Story of Degradation, Recovery, and On-going Challenges

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020

Time: 4-5pm

Click here for the recording

​On the banks and water of the tidal Potomac river, the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC) is one of the key components of Mason's Potomac Science Center. PEREC ​has a longstanding research commitment to restoration and local sustainability practices ​of the Potomac. ​The Center partners with school districts, state and federal agencies as well as local and national non-profit environmental organizations to deliver award-winning watershed educational programs. Since 2009, PEREC faculty and staff have delivered Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) to over 40,000 students Prince William County and over 35,000 students in Fairfax County Public Schools. PEREC’s outreach capacity expanded with the highly anticipated opening of the Potomac Science Center in fall 2017. Located along the Occoquan River in Belmont Bay, the center provides GMU researchers direct access to local ecosystems. The Center offers immersive educational opportunities for students, researchers, local leaders and community members.

Mason Science Series: Rising to the COVID-19 Challenge

Rising to the National and International COVID-19 Challenge

Speaker: Dr. Aarthi Narayanan

When: Tuesday, February 23, 2021; 4-5pm EST

Recording now available!

Dr. Aarthi Narayanan shared the latest developments in ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.  She also shared the latest research findings, and applications to therapeutic and vaccine products through a controlled development pipeline.

Dr. Narayanan’s laboratory is involved in a multitude of efforts geared towards development of therapeutics and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.  Her team collaborates with several national and international academic and corporate entities to provide critical support in product development while gleaning basic biological information pertaining to the infectious process and inflammatory events.

Dr. Narayanan is a faculty member in Mason’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, a robust research center with emphasis on several emerging infectious agents with potential to cause human disease. 

Mason Science Series: Microbes and the Stories They Tell

Upcoming Mason Science Series Research Discussions:

Microbes and the Stories They Tell: Microorganisms as Sentinels of Organism Health and Ecosystem Function

When: Tuesday, March 30, 2021, 4-5pm ET

Presented by: Jennifer L. Salerno, PhD; Environmental Science and Policy

Recording now available!

Dr. Salerno will discuss the roles that microorganisms play in maintaining and destabilizing the health of organisms and what they can tell us about the health state of ecosystems. She will share highlights of her lab's research, including an ongoing study of a devastating coral disease outbreak that is currently decimating reefs across Florida and the Caribbean, and the collaborative work being done to try to identify the causative agent.

Mason Science Series: Seeking the Invisible

Seeking the Invisible: Detecting Supermassive Black Holes in Space

When: Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 4-5pm ET

Presented by: Shobita Satyapal, PhD; Physics and Astronomy

Recording Now Available!

We know that monstrous black holes, one million to several billion times the mass of the sun, lurk in the centers of almost every large galaxy in the universe. They can have a profound effect on those galaxies and are capable of giving rise to the loudest gravitation signals in the universe when they merge.

Shobita Satyapal, a physics and astronomy professor at George Mason University, discusses her group's recent research results in addition to several significant recent events in black hole astrophysics: the imaging of the event horizon of the M87 galaxy’s black hole; detection of colliding black holes from the LIGO interferometer; and the awarding of the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics to Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel for identifying the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

Mason Science Series: Sustaining the Planet

Sustaining the Planet for our Children and Grandchildren: A Conversation with two Mason Distinguished University Professors

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

4-6pm ET

Country Club of Fairfax

Conservation biologist Tom Lovejoy and communication scientist Ed Maibach are at the forefront of Mason’s efforts to help protect the land, ecosystems and climate on which all life depends—including ours.
Tom and Ed will share their views on what must happen, worldwide, to prevent catastrophic declines in earth’s life-sustaining capacity—so that our progeny share the blessings that were bestowed on us and our parents—and they will speak about activities currently underway at Mason that are helping to usher in the necessary solutions. Most importantly, they look forward to engaging in conversation with our guests at this event.

Recording Available Here

The College of Science was proud to host the event in partnership with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Mason Science Series: A Quantum Life

Join us on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 from 4-6pm at the Country Club of Fairfax for our next Mason Science Series Research Discussion: "A Quantum Life: The Transformational Power of Education" featuring Visiting Robinson Professor, Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi. Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm and Dr. Oluseyi will discuss his recent book, the future of STEM education, and...the universe. 

Recording coming soon!

Don Kelso Learning Pier Dedication Ceremony

Dr. Don Kelso is Mason's first marine and freshwater ecologist, joining in 1970 what is now the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Kelso's legacy includes a lasting impact on many students, who hold him in the highest regard.

Mason Science faculty, alumni, Dr. Kelso, his friends and Kelso family gathered safely on May 22nd to celebrate the kickoff of the Don Kelso Learning Pier Campaign and dedicate the pier.

Recording Available Here

If you are interested in learning how to get involved with the Don Kelso Learning Pier campaign, please email Audrey Kelaher at akelahe@gmu.edu 

Mason Science Series: Science and the Arts Unite

Join this very special event featuring Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, Dean of the College of Science and Rick Davis, Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Based on “The 100th Meridian Project,” a multi-media project  developed by Dean Rick Davis, to illustrate historical roots of the western water crisis using a collaborative research protocol that can be applied in an ongoing process to critical issues in the contemporary world.

Following a compelling dramatic reading of excerpts from "The 100th Meridian Project" directed by Dean Davis, Dean Miralles-Wilhelm will lead a discussion on the science of water that informs the project.

Recording Available Here!

Past Mason Science Series Lectures

Extinction by Infection: The Hidden Face of Disease Emergence, Globalization and Climate Change

Dr. Aguirre

Speaker: Dr. A. Alonso Aguirre, Chair, Department of Environmental Science and Policy
Date and Time: Friday, April 12 2019, 4-6pm

Description: Over 32% of terrestrial vertebrates are extinct since 1970. We refer to these massive declines as a “biological annihilation”. The primary causes include overexploitation of species (72%), agricultural intensification (62%) and climate change (19%). Linked to these factors, disease has been proven catastrophic to diminished and already stressed populations. Examples include malaria in Hawaiian birds, the chytrid fungus in frogs; white nose syndrome of bats; facial tumors in Tasmanian devils; canine distemper in black-footed ferrets; and colony collapse disorder in honeybees. These are some examples of “extinction by infection”.
Indeed, disease has become a major threat to biodiversity jumping across species and taxa. So far 17 people have died of Ebola in DRC since May 2019. This is the 9th outbreak in the country since 1976 and it became a global pandemic in humans 2014. The disease has pushed gorillas and chimps to extinction in western Africa. Key factors that drive disease emergence are related to human changes to the environment, agriculture, healthcare and demography, all against a background of a large pool of potential new zoonoses and a changing climate. 
During this talk, Dr. Aguirre will emphasize the need to bridge disciplines, thereby linking human health, animal health, and ecosystem health under the paradigm “health connects all species in the planet”. Developing practical, sustainable and effective solutions requires a keen understanding of local socio-economic factors and a solid grasp of complex national and regional health and environmental policies. Fortunately, specialists collaborating under transdisciplinary and socio-ecological health umbrellas of Conservation Medicine and One Health are increasingly integrating established and new techniques for disease modeling, prediction, diagnosis, treatment, control, and prevention. Such approaches often emphasize the conservation of biodiversity for health protection, and they provide novel opportunities of success.
 

Insights from Space: Extracting Value from Satellite Imagery Utilizing Machine Learning

Dr. Patrick O’Neil

Speakers: Dr. Patrick O’Neil, Principal Data Scientist, Spaceflight Industries (Ph.D. Mathematics ’17) and Dr. Diego Torrejon, Data Scientist, Spaceflight Industries (Ph.D. Mathematics ’17)

Date and Time: Friday, February 15, 2019, 3-5pm

Description: With the higher revisit rates offered by the ever-increasing number of imaging satellites beaming down data, there is an immediate need for novel machine learning and computer vision techniques which can identify and flag significant change on the ground by processing thousands of images per day.  The Spaceflight data science team has met this challenge by developing cutting-edge artificial intelligence methods for extracting insight from the deluge of data. However, as our constellation continues to grow, new challenges will emerge, requiring the addition of many talented data scientists and machine learning experts to our team. In this talk, we will outline some of the key skill sets required to succeed in the satellite imagery analytics field. Furthermore, we will discuss some of the issues and barriers we have encountered when interviewing applicants for data science roles at Spaceflight.
 

What Reptiles Can Teach Us About Cancer

Dr. Ylenia Chiari

Speaker: Ylenia Chiari, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
Date and Time: October 25, 2018, 4-6pm

Description: While cancer occurrence in humans is around 40%, there is tremendous variation in cancer rates among animals. Some animals have essentially “solved” the cancer problem, with rates near 0%, while other animals have cancer occurrences of nearly 99%. Our research investigates animals on both of these extremes in order to discover new, potentially game-changing, mechanisms of cancer protection and suppression. Turtles have particularly low cancer rates, despite the fact that some species can reach very large sizes (up to 300 kg) and live very long lives (more than 100 years). Since both of these factors should theoretically result in increased cancer risk, these turtles must possess enhanced cancer resistance mechanisms. Conversely, in certain gecko breeds, nearly 99% of individuals develop cancer before the age of 2. In our work, we combine the latest advances in genome sequencing, comparative genomics, gene editing, and cell biology to identify the key molecular mechanisms underlying extreme cancer rates in reptiles. The goal is to develop new, out-of-the box approaches for improving human cancer biology and treatment.

The Challenges of Future Automated/Autonomous Vehicle Safety

Dr. Steve Kan

Speaker: Cing-Dao (Steve) Kan, PhD, Director, Center for Collision Safety and Analysis
Date and Time: April 17, 2018, 5:30-9pm

Description: With new sensor technology, fast data communication, advanced data analytics, and artificial intelligence, the field of Advanced Mobility has made tremendous advancement over the past few years. Vehicle manufacturers, both the traditional manufacturers and high-tech based new manufacturers, have been very active in developing new generation electric vehicles (EV) and focusing on automated/autonomous vehicle (AV) technology for the future Advanced Mobility systems.  States and city governments have also been searching for cost-effective technology-based transportation and mobility system to replace the aging and outdated transportation infrastructures. In this talk, the future advanced mobility system, including EV, AV, and on-demand shared mobility and their integration will be discussed.  The challenges of safety in the new advanced mobility system will be the center focus of the talk.  Future technological implements in EV, AV, and on-demand shear mobility and their consequences will also be presented along with global technology trends.

Genomics is Old-Fashioned: The Next Frontier of Proteomics for Molecular Medicine

Lance Liotta, Co-Director, Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Speakers: Lance A. Liotta, MD, PhD, Co-Director, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine and Emanuel “Chip” Petricoin III, PhD, Co-Director, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine

Date and Time: February 13, 2018, 4-9pm

Description: Dr. Lance Liotta and Dr. Chip Petricoin from the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM) will be discussing real-world case studies wherein the field of proteomics, or the global analysis of proteins, provides new insights into early diagnosis of diseases like cancer, infectious disease and TBI, as well as individualization of therapy for treating deadly ailments like metastatic cancers. They will be providing an educational background about these diseases and how the field of proteomics is revolutionizing diagnostic and treatment strategies.

Smart Cities, Urban Science, and Transnational Crime: Mason’s Geoinformation Scientists Lead Global Partnerships with Local Impact

Anthony Stefanidis

Speaker: Dr. Anthony Stefanidis, Professor and Chair, Department of Geography & Geoinformation Science, Director, Crime Investigation and Network Analysis Center of Excellence


Date and Time: December 7, 2017, 6:30pm

Description: Dr. Anthony Stefanidis led the proposal recently selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to establish the DHS Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis Center of Excellence (CINA) at Mason, of which he is the director.  A multi-disciplinary consortium of academic, industry, and government partners from across the U.S., CINA was awarded $3.85 million for its first operating year, with an expected budget of $40M over the 10-year grant period.  
 
Dr. Stefanidis chairs the Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science in Mason’s College of Science, which is also currently poised to lead an emerging scientific initiative in Urban Science---an interdisciplinary effort to address the “global urbanization wave.” Pushing the boundaries of science, from geography and ecology, to data science and health, the initiative will build on the College’s strengths in these areas, positioning Mason as an early leader in this emerging field. Dr. Stefanidis will discuss these global actions and their potential impact on the future of Mason, the region, and our world.

Commonwealth at Risk: Mason’s Weather and Climate Research Helps Virginia Predict and Prepare for the New Normal

Jim Kinter

Speaker: Dr. James L. Kinter, Director, The Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, Professor of Climate Dynamics, George Mason University Chair, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences

Date and Time: October 3, 2017, 5:30pm

Description: Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. This old saying neglects the fact that everybody is inadvertently doing something about the weather—we are changing it. The reality of global climate change is now undeniable and the likelihood is high that human activities have caused the majority of the changes observed in the past half-century. The citizens and businesses of the Commonwealth of Virginia are not exempt from the changes Earth will experience during the rest of this century—there will be a new normal and we all need to prepare for it.

The most obvious impacts of our changing climate in Virginia are already evident in the Tidewater region, with rising sea levels increasing nuisance floods and exacerbating the effects of tropical storms that infrequently reach the shores of the Chesapeake. Less immediate, but potentially more damaging are the relentlessly hot summers we can expect by mid-to-late 21st century. And, there will be impacts on our economy as the coal mining industry dwindles and Virginia businesses begin to exploit our sun and wind resources to generate renewable energy. Knowing when climate will change in the Commonwealth, and where and how to exploit natural resources, are critically important aspects of planning and preparing for changes that are decades in the making. Prof. Kinter will describe Mason research that is focused on this question, emphasizing what we have learned about predicting future weather and climate in the mid-Atlantic region and what remains to be done to advance our understanding to actionable predictions.

Past Mason Observatory Events

Mercury Transit Breakfast and Observation

Speaker: Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, Affiliate Faculty Member, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Date and Time: November 11, 2019 7-9am

Description: Mercury is transiting the Sun on November 11th, 2019, the first since 2016, and the last until 2032. Transits of planets across the face of the Sun were used to determine the first absolute measurement of distances in the Solar System, and in particular to measure the distance of the Earth from the Sun.  With the scale of our Solar System established, astronomers laid the foundation to measure of the distances to the nearest stars using parallax, and eventually further stars, the Milky Way, other Galaxies and ultimately the Universe itself.  This series of inter-dependent steps in the cosmic distance ladder brings the tremendous physical scale of our Universe into perspective.

Mercury and Venus orbit the Sun interior to Earth's orbit. If the alignment is just right, these two planets can cause an eclipse or "transit": from Earth we see the planet in silhouette in front of our Sun.  This alignment is so rare for Venus that it happens in pairs less than once a century, and in the past astronomers would undertake months-long voyages by sea to distant continents to document the transit, only to be foiled by clouds. 

Hakeem Oluseyi, PhD
Affiliate Faculty Member,
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, author of the highly-anticipated upcoming memoir, Rise of the Gangsta Physicist: An Unlikely Journey through Space and Time, is an internationally-recognized astrophysicist, science TV personality, and global education advocate who has had a long, distinguished career in academia and scientific research. In Fall 2019, he joined Mason's Department of Physics and Astronomy as an Affiliate Faculty Member. 

His work has resulted in 11 patents and ~90 publications covering contributions to astrophysics, cosmology, semiconductor manufacturing, and ion propulsion. Dr. Oluseyi has won several honors for his work including the 2018 Communications Award from the National Space Club, 2017 recognition for outstanding service to the U.S. Intelligence Community, selection as a 2015 MIT Faculty Fellow, 2015 induction into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, 2012 TED Global Fellow, a 2011 and 2013 U.S. State Department Speaker & Specialist, the 2006 Physics Technical Achiever of the Year by the National Technical Association, a 2005 NASA Earth/Sun Science New Investigator Faculty Fellow, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation Astrophysics Research Fellow, the Ernest O. Lawrence Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (2001-2003), and as a NASA GSRP Fellow at Stanford University.

Hakeem is one of the world's most popular educators and science communicators. He co-hosts several shows on Science Channel and Discovery International, including Outrageous Acts of ScienceHow the Universe WorksSpace's Deepest SecretsStrange EvidenceYou Have Been Warned, and Strip the Cosmos.

Inside Science (Our Universe): Searching for Life in the Universe

Speaker: Dr. Peter Plavchan, Assistant Professor and Deputy Director, GMU Observatory; Dr. Michael Summers, Professor

Date and Time: July 14, 2020, 7:30pm 

Description: Since the dawn of humankind, we have wondered if we are alone in the universe. Peter Plavchan, and Michael Summers, professors of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, examine how science has progressed in furthering our understanding of this age-old question. Explore the prospects for life within in our solar system—from tardigrades on the moon to the mysteries on Mars and the oceans of Europa. Over the past 30 years, science fiction has become science fact, with the discovery of thousands of exoplanet worlds. Take a look at plans for future NASA missions beyond the solar system to capture images of other Earths, as well as the latest on the scientific searches of technosignatures from intelligent alien civilizations (if they are out there). With remote access, virtually tour the observatory, and if weather allows, view the skies through GMU’s primary telescope.

Inside Science (Our Universe): Roving for Signs of Life on Mars

Speaker: Dr. Peter Plavchan, Assistant Professor and Deputy Director, GMU Observatory; Dr. Michael Summers, Professor

Date and time: August 18, 2020, 8–9:30 p.m.

Description: Between July 17 and August 5, NASA launches the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance from Cape Canaveral, in anticipation of an early 2021 touchdown in the Jezero Crater. Key objectives for Perseverance include gathering rocks and soil for a sample-return mission from Mars, preparing for possible human exploration, assessing the ancient habitability of the planet for sustaining life, and looking for evidence of past life. Peter Plavchan and Michael Summers, professors of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, look at the prospects of life on Mars, past and present, through scientific evidence collected by robotic landers and rovers and remote-sensing orbiters. With remote control of the GMU Observatory, they also bring the skies into your living room, displaying views of Jupiter, Saturn, and other celestial objects, weather-permitting. (Mars will not be visible until after midnight).

Note: This program begins at 8 p.m. due to the timing of sunset.

Inside Science (Our Universe): Stellar Astronomy The Fall Colors of Stars

Speaker: Dr. Peter Plavchan, Assistant Professor and Deputy Director, GMU Observatory; Dr. Michael Summers, Professor

Date and time: September 15, 2020, 8–9:30 p.m.

Description: In December 2019, astronomers noticed the brightest star in the constellation of Orion, the red supergiant Betelgeuse, started to dim more than it has in the past century to about one-third of its normal brightness. This unprecedented dimming was distinguishable with the unaided eye, but by March 2020, Betelgeuse had begun recover and get brighter again. What happened? Why did Betelgeuse dim? Join Peter Plavchan and Michael Summers, professors of astronomy and physics at George Mason University to learn about stellar evolution and the life and death of red giants, yellow suns, and brown dwarfs.

With remote control of the GMU Observatory, Plavchan and Summers bring the skies into your living room. Weather permitting, enjoy a remote telescope viewing session of celestial objects after the program.