Public Outreach

This is the sharpest image ever taken by ALMA — sharper than is routinely achieved in visible light with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. It shows the protoplanetary disc surrounding the young star HL Tauri.

Exoplanets are being discovered from near and far, and one way to learn more about how these planets form is to study the disk of gas and dust from which they form.

Join the Boise State Physics Department on Friday, Oct 6 at 7:30p in the Multi-Purpose Classroom Building, room 101 to hear Prof. Hannah Jang-Condell of the University of Wyoming discuss her cutting-edge research on these protoplanetary disks and how the telescopes at University of Wyoming are being used to better understand and characterize exoplanets.

At 8:30p after the presentation, we will stargaze on the roof of the Brady Street Parking Garage, weather permitting.

The event is free and open to the public.


Dust devils occur ubiquitously on Mars, where they have been observed from space and from landed spacecraft. Martian dust devils may present a hazard to exploration of the planet, but they have also lengthened the lifetime of the Mars rovers.

Join the Physics Department on Friday, Sep 1 at 7:30p in the Multi-Purpose Classroom Building, room 101 to hear about research on terrestrial analog dust devils conducted by Boise State’s own Prof. Brian Jackson. He will discuss a recent pilot study using an instrumented quadcopter to sample active dust devils and will present encounter footage collected onboard the drone.

After the presentation at 8:30p, we will stargaze on the roof of the Brady Street Parking Garage.

The entire event is free and open to the public. Contact Prof. Brian Jackson ( – @decaelus) with any questions.

I had the pleasure of visiting Ketchum this weekend to talk with the folks there about the Aug 21 solar eclipse. Ketchum is near the southern edge of the path of totality and so will experience an eclipse a little longer than a minute.

On the way, I visited the Craters of the Moon National Monument, site of one of the youngest flood basalt fields in the world, young enough that it may erupt again.

The spindle bomb on display at the Craters visitors’ center.

Among the exhibits in the visitors’ center, I found a display describing the spindle volcanic bomb – a chunk of lava that supposedly flew through the air while molten and froze out into a twisted and stream-lined shape as a result.

After being chased off one of the cinder cones by a surprise rain storm, I piled back into the car and continued on to Ketchum.

When I got there, I met Alisa Sergeyeva, a staff member with the Ketchum City Hall who had invited me to speak, and we set up for a presentation on the beautiful town square.

From my perspective, the talk went well (although we had to improvise a bit since my powerpoint presentation was difficult to see in the Sun) – lots of laughs and questions from the hundred or so attendees.

Hemingway’s grave.

After the presentation, I set up the Coronado solar scope to do some sungazing and then a short pilgrimage to the Ketchum City Cemetery where, Alisa explained, Ernest Hemingway is buried.

By way of a remembrance, I stopped off at The Sawtooth Club, supposedly a Hemingway haunt, before heading back to the hotel for the night.

I posted the presentation I gave below.