Online SoVerA Meeting: You Can Almost Touch the Stars

October 13, 2020 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Margot Kuhns Schmitt

Even if you wanted to touch a star, they’re all impossibly distant. Despite these great distances, astronomers have learned an enormous amount about stars. How? The most common method to study the stars is called “spectroscopy,” which is the science of analyzing the colorful rainbow spectrum produced by a prism-like device. 

Until recently, spectroscopy was too expensive and too complicated for all but a handful of amateurs.  Today, new tools make spectroscopy accessible to almost all of us. With your current telescope and FITS camera (or a simple web cam or even a DSLR without a telescope), you can easily study the stars  yourself. Wouldn’t you like to detect the atmosphere on Neptune or the red shift of a quasar right from your own backyard?! 

Tom Field is has been a Contributing Editor at Sky & Telescope Magazine for the past 7 years. He is the author of the RSpec software (, which received the S&T “Hot  Product” award in 2011. His enthusiastic style is lively and engaging. He promises to open the door for you to this fascinating field! 

This talk, with lots of interesting examples, will show you what it’s all about and help you understand  how spectroscopy is used in research. Even if you are an armchair astronomer, understanding this field  will enhance your understanding of the things you read and the night sky. We’ll do a live Q&A after Tom’s 45-minute presentation.

For more information, please visit and join us virtually for our next meeting!


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