Astronomy Professor Receives Service Award


Department Astronomy Professor Dr. Kristine Larsen recently received the 2015 Special Service Award from the Astronomical League in recognition of her “outstanding service, dedication, attention to detail and performance” in her role as volunteer Assistant Editor of the League’s Reflector magazine.

The Astronomical League is the largest group of amateur astronomers in the world, and is made up of members from hundreds of local astronomy clubs as well as members-at-large. Dr. Larsen is a member through the Springfield (Vermont) Telescope Makers, the oldest amateur telescope making organization in the U.S., where she is co-coordinator of programming for the annual Stellafane Convention. She was previously the 2013 recipient of the Walter Scott Houston Award from the North East Region of the Astronomical League in recognition of her achievements in astronomy education and outreach, and is currently President of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), a century-old international organization of professional and amateur astronomers dedicated to the discovery, monitoring, and understanding of variable stars (including the sun). “Astronomy has benefited tremendously from the dedicated work of both volunteer and paid astronomers,” Larsen explains. “It is an honor to work side-by-side with all those who consider astronomy their passion, regardless of whether or not it is their profession.”



Meet the Rock Stars, Part 7: Dr. Jen Piatek


 [Dr. Piatek dressed as the Apollo Program at the Halloween reception of the 2015 National Geological Society of America meeting]

Name: Jennifer Piatek (yes, I usually use ‘Jen’, but the full name works too. Middle initial only for publications, thank you.)

Title: Associate Professor

Year Started at CCSU: Fall 2007

Courses Taught: AST 208 Planetary Astronomy, AST 378 Comparative Planetology, AST 470 Exoplanets, GSCI 121 Dynamic Earth (nee Physical Geology), AST 112 Search for Life on Other Planets (nee Life in the Universe, or something like that), 400 level courses in  Planetary Image Analysis and Volcanology

Current research projects: A few smaller projects using new technologies (GigaPans, thermal imaging) to enhance in-class activities and bring the field to those who can’t get there, but right now the big one is our 4-year NASA funded study of Martian craters (“we” is the group on the proposal – CCSU, Univ. of Western Ontario, Northern Arizona University, and SwRI). The project is to develop detailed interpretations of how craters are formed and modified on Mars using analysis of both high-resolution visible images and thermal infrared data.  We projected that we’d be creating ArcGIS maps for something like 20-30 craters to interpret – lots of work to do there!

Favorite Book: I have too many to pick just one, or even just ten.  The last one I finished was A Dance with Dragons, but I wouldn’t call that a favorite.

Favorite Movie: I’m old school on this one – 2001 A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner, depending on the day.

Favorite Scientific Term:  (the wavelength dependent form of Planck’s blackbody equation, see image attached). I refuse to pick a non-math term. Nearly everything I’ve studied depends on this in some way.


Something my students don’t know about me:  I came one course shy of a music minor in college – took most of the classes they offered except the “intro” one needed for the minor, played with the band/orchestra/small groups . Haven’t picked up an instrument since then, though, except for an aborted attempt to learn bass guitar.

And I keep a pet Shoggoth in my office for company.


Meet the Rock Stars, Part 6: Ms. Carol Ivers

[Editor’s note: Carol is a proud alumna of the department, having received her BS here before earning an MS in Planetary Geology from the University of Massachusetts. Carol is also a high school teacher, an avid amateur astronomer, and is a past recipient of the Connecticut Earth Science Teacher of the Year award]


[Alpine climbing the ridge to Mt. Tupper near Rogers Pass in British Columbia. A drop off of ~2000 feet behind her and to her left kept her clinging tightly to that rock….]


Name: Carol B. Ivers

Title: Adjunct Professor

Year Started at CCSU: 1998

Courses Taught: The Cosmos, Earth Science, Physical Geology lab, Meteorology lab, Stellar and Galactic Astronomy lab, various others

Current research projects: Examining the geologic structure of Lac Manicouagan in Quebec

Favorite book: Where the Wild Things Are

Favorite film: The Fifth Element

Favorite scientific term: Stromatotoporoid

Something my students don’t know about me: I bicycled across the North American continent in the summer of 2015.