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CAROLINE HERSCHEL
CAROLINE HERSCHEL
Hanover, Germany (/1750/ - /1848/)
Sister of Sir William Herschel, Caroline's most significant contribution to astronomy was the discovery of several comets, including 35P/Herschel-Rigollet. Caroline Herschel was enthused by William's work with telescopes and was a longtime collaborator of her more famous brother and nephew, Sir John Herschel.
 

Enjoy these insightful and educational video clips drawn from over 70 hours of interviews with the world's leading figures in astronomy, shot during the filming of 400 Years of the Telescope.

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Geoff Marcy

Scientific laws evolve over time
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

One thing that we astronomers pride ourselves in is making use of the laws of physics, chemistry, math, and other laws that allow us to rest our experiments on a pedestal, that seems immutable. And that pedestal involves Newtonís laws of physics, the laws of quantum mechanics and electricity and magnetism.

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Geoff Marcy

The future of telescopes
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

The future of telescopes is clear, most people donít know it. We humans are going to build in this century, probably in the next few decades, giant telescopes above the Earthís atmosphere, composed of multiple mirrors Ė four, ten, 100 mirrors spread out over our solar system in fact that will simultaneously collect light from distant astronomical objects: quasars, black holes and indeed planets orbiting other stars.

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Geoff Marcy

The Geneva announcement
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

What happened was, I was in my office one day and I received an email from England and somebody said that a newspaper article had appeared in an obscure newspaper for northern England, saying that in the next two days, a team from Geneva, Switzerland, was going to announce the discovery of the first planet ever. A team from Geneva that was going to give a talk at a meeting in Florence, Italy.

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Geoff Marcy

The goal of exosolar planet search
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

I discover planets orbiting other stars. Itís an all-encompassing activity. We use the worldís largest telescopes. And the goal is to try to understand how our solar system with its Sun and its planets, asteroids, comets, rings around those planets, how they all fit into the grand scheme of planetary systems elsewhere in the universe. And ultimately weíre trying to find other planetary systems to determine if our solar system is a rare bird or a common member of a species that proliferates in our universe.

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Geoff Marcy

History of false claims of exosolar plantets
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

One thing that people forget is that over the last sixty to seventy years, there have been many, many false claims of the first planet ever found around another star.

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Geoff Marcy

How exosolar planetary search works
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

The way we find planets around other stars is with a trick, actually. We would love to be able to point the Hubble Space Telescope at a nearby star like Alpha Centauri and just stare at the star, looking for a little tiny dot of light that orbits the star.

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Geoff Marcy

How I started looking for exosolar planets
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

When I finally got my PhD, I was looking for some research to do and I struggled. For about a year I couldnít find any good research project to pursue. And really, the test of a good scientist is whether they can think of new ideas that can then allow you to go out, make observations, test new theories. But I couldnít think of any. And I remember one morning in Pasadena, California, taking a shower, lingering for half an hour under the water, realizing what bad shape I was in for my career.

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Geoff Marcy

IYA greeting
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

My wish for the International Year of Astronomy is that everybody gets a chance to look through a telescope, everybody gets a chance to realize that our Earth and our solar system is just one small part of an enormous universe, inconceivably large universe of which we are a part.

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Geoff Marcy

Finally a break in exosolar planetary search
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

When I first thought that Paul Butler and I would hunt for planets, we had two obvious challenges. I needed funding to do it and I needed telescope time. I had neither. So I wrote a proposal to hunt for planets, and I knew that people wouldnít believe that we could actually attempt, never mind actually succeed at finding them.

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Geoff Marcy

New telescope techniques to search for exosolar planets
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

Weíve built a new telescope that Iím so excited about, I can barely keep my clothes on. Itís a 2.4 meter telescope, telescope mirror diameter 2.4 meters, as big as the Hubble Space Telescope. Designed specifically to hunt for Earth-like planets.

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Geoff Marcy

The impact of the telescope
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

The discovery of the telescope I think has changed humanity in two profound ways. One is that we now realize that you can now understand nature, from the microscopic to the cosmic by experiment. You can pose a question, make observations, listen to your data, interpret your data and generate conceptual models of how the universe works from the tiniest subsystems in an atom to the galaxies of which our universe is composed.

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Geoff Marcy

My astronomical hero
Geoff Marcy - University of California, Berkeley

My hero and inspiration continues to be Carl Sagan.

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Claire Max

Horace Babcock and adaptive optics
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

Of course, people have known for ages that turbulence in the atmosphere was a problem; even Isaac Newton knew it. And in 1956, an astronomer in California said, whose name was Horace Babcock, said, I think we can find a way to take away the bad effects of the turbulence.

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Claire Max

Adaptive optics and ground-based telescopes
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

Right now the state of our technology on the ground on these big 8 or 10 meter telescopes is that we can only correct images that were taken in infrared light, which is light that is redder than red. Your eye doesnít see it. Hubble, on the other hand, not only looks at infrared light, it looks at light that is in the visible and even in the ultraviolet. And the state of the art today is that adaptive optic systems on the ground canít correct light thatís in the visible and certainly not the ultraviolet.

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Claire Max

Adaptive optics and black holes
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

Because you can see very clearly with adaptive optics, there are things that we can make discoveries on that just literally couldnít be seen before they were just blurred out. One of them, for example has been using the one thousand or two thousand stars that are closest to the center of our galaxy, following their orbits around what we know now is a central black hole in our galaxy and measuring the mass of the back hole, which it turns out to be a few million times massive than the Sun.

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Claire Max

Adaptive optics and diseases of the eye
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

Adaptive optics today is used in a number of different places besides astronomy. Obviously if you have anything that blurs an image, you can use something like adaptive optics to unblur it. One of the groups of people we are working most closely with are using adaptive optics to look into the human eye, the living human eye and image individual cells on the retina.

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Claire Max

Astronomy's pioneering usage of adaptive optics
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

There were two astronomy groups that led the way [in pioneering adaptive optics]. One was at the European Southern Observatory in Chile and the other was at the University of Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.

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Claire Max

Atmospheric turbulence and ground-based telescopes
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

One of the things that astronomers have to live with is blurring of any image in the telescope because there is turbulence in the atmosphere.

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Claire Max

The future of adaptive optics in space-based telescopes
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

One of the exciting areas, I think, in fifteen or twenty years will be using adaptive optics on telescopes in space. And you might ask, well why do we need that? There is no turbulence up there. But I think what is going to happen is that people are going to want to launch bigger and bigger telescopes into space. And to keep the weight down, to make them possible to launch, you have to make them of basically flimsier and flimsier materials.

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Claire Max

How I became an astronomer
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

When I was eight years old, I went to my first summer camp and one of the counselors who was the nature counselor, the science counselor, had a little telescope and pointed it at the moon and I looked through it and I saw these mountains on the moon.

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Claire Max

IYA greeting
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

We are all very excited about the International Year of Astronomy. The telescope technology has gone unbelievably past what Galileo or his colleagues imagined and as scientists we find the things we look at extremely exciting, not just from a scientific point of view but from a human point of view. Thinking about things that are in the distant universe that are going on thousands of years ago and I hope the world enjoys it as much as we do.

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Claire Max

Large telescopes and the refraction limit
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

The principles of optics say that the larger the telescope the more clearly it should be able to see and that is called the refraction limit. So, larger telescopes see more clearly.

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Claire Max

Laser guide stars and adaptive optics
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

The thing that has made adaptive optics come much more into the mainstream today is that you can now make your own star with a laser beam. So, you can point the laser at exactly the galaxy that you want to look at, use the light from that laser beam to measure the turbulence in the atmosphere and then you can look almost anywhere.

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Claire Max

Military implementation of adaptive optics
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

In the 50's there was no way technology was going to be able to do all these measurements that fast. But by the late 1980's, it started to become available and the first people who really implement this were in the US military who wanted to image satellites. They wanted to know, for example, if they saw the Russians launch a satellite, what it was doing, what kind of satellite was it.

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Claire Max

Moving from cities to the mountain tops
Claire Max - University of California, Santa Cruz

People moved relatively late in the game to put telescopes on mountain tops; in fact, Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton near San Jose, California, was, I think, the first substantial mountain top observatory and that was just in the latter part of the 19th century.

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