Dr. Megan Mansfield to Speak at October Skygazers Meeting

Artist’s concept of HD 219134b. With permission NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sam Miller

The SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club is pleased to host Megan Mansfield, Ph.D., a NASA Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona’s Stewart Observatory, on Sunday, Oct. 9, at the DesertView Theater, 39900 S. Clubhouse Drive, at 7 p.m. Dr. Mansfield will discuss the devices and methods she uses in her research to identify exoplanets and Earth-like habitable planets, specifically the spectroscopic characterization of exoplanet atmospheres. Her presentation includes a description on using the enhanced technology of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and other space-based and ground-based telescopes to collect spectroscopic data on exoplanet atmospheres.

Dr. Mansfield hails from Des Moines, Iowa, and received her undergraduate degree from MIT in 2016 with a double major in Physics and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, and a minor in Music. She received a Ph.D. in 2021 from the Geophysical Sciences Department at the University of Chicago, where she performed spectroscopic observations and modeling of highly irradiated exoplanets, ranging in size from hot terrestrial planets to ultra-hot Jupiter. She joined Steward Observatory in Fall 2021 as a NASA Sagan Fellow, conducting research that focuses on the spectroscopic characterization of exoplanet atmospheres. She uses a variety of ground-based and space-based observations (including the JWST) to study planetary formation, physics, chemistry, and habitability.

The SaddleBrooke Skygazers Astronomy Club meets monthly (and typically) on the second Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at the DesertView Theater. The fall Star Parties are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 26, at 6:30 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the softball field parking lot. The public is welcome to both meetings and Star Parties. Club and Star Party information can be obtained by emailing David Evans at [email protected].