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Stargazing Lecture

Friday, January 29, 2021
7:00pm to 9:00pm
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Online Event
An Insider's Look Behind Science Headlines
Sarah Blunt, PhD Candidate, Department of Astronomy, Caltech,
  • Public Event

Because this is an online event, the in-person stargazing that normally follows events in this series will not be possible.

Join the YouTube Livestream here:

7:00–7:30 p.m. - Virtual Lecture
7:30–9:00 p.m. - Virtual Panel Q&A and Discussion

How do scientific discoveries become headlines? In this talk, I'll outline my experience with the scientific press. I'll begin by recounting the story of HR 5183 b, a super-Jupiter exoplanet in a wacky egg-shaped orbit. We discovered this object by monitoring its host star for almost 20 years, tracking its speed and looking for signs of exoplanet gravitational influence. The star appeared to be stationary for most of the time we observed it, but it began rapidly accelerating a few years ago, revealing the presence of a planet on a highly eccentric orbit. I'll take you through why this discovery was exciting to scientists, how we "spun" the story for the general public (including collaborating with a science artist!), and how the story evolved as it traversed the internet.

About the Series

Stargazing Lectures are free lectures at a public level followed by a Q&A panel and guided stargazing with telescopes (weather permitting). All events are held at the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech. No reservations are needed. Lectures are 30 minutes; stargazing and panel Q&A last 90 minutes. Stay only as long as you want.

Stargazing is only possible with clear skies, but the lecture and panel Q&A takes place regardless of weather.

For directions, weather updates, and more information, please visit:

For more information, please contact Cameron Hummels by email at