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OCA General Meeting
Friday December 12th, 2014, 7:30 PM
Chapman University
Free and open to public more

Astronomical Spectroscopy: Royal Portal to the Heavens

Since its inception in the mid-1800's, astronomical spectroscopy has provided a veritable treasure trove of information about the nature of the cosmos. You name it - asteroids, comets, the sun, the moon, the planets of the solar system and their moons, the stars and nebula in our galaxy, the stars and nebula in other galaxies, the interstellar medium, quasars, supernovae, black holes, laser stars, the Big Bang - much of what we know (and much what we hope to know in the future) was or will be delivered to us via astronomical spectroscopy. Astronomical spectroscopy allows us to probe in exquisite detail the chemical compositions of far-distant stars and to ascertain the dynamics of stars, planets, and galaxies. While astronomers can extract valuable spectroscopic information from the entire sweep of the electromagnetic spectrum (from the radio-frequency region to the gamma ray region and everything in between), this presentation will focus on what can be learned from spectroscopic interrogations of the classic near ultraviolet-visible-near infrared spectral window. We will share some of our recently acquired stellar spectroscopic data from the Chemical Physics Laboratory at Concordia University and from our trips to Kitt Peak National Observatory to illustrate our interest in astronomical spectroscopy as a means by which to measure, via Doppler shifts of well-known atomic spectral lines, the differential radial velocities of gravitationally-bound orbiting binary star systems.

John W. Kenney, III

Dr. Kenney joined the faculty of Concordia University in Irvine, CA in July 2001 as Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Physics. He is also Director of the Chemical Physics Laboratory at Concordia and Co-Director of the Keck Center for Astronomy at Concordia (KCAC). Prior to joining the Concordia faculty, he was a Professor of Chemistry at Eastern New Mexico University and Director of the Chemical Physics Laboratory there.
Dr. Kenney is an award winning teacher/scholar noted for his contributions to both chemical education and to chemistry/chemical physics research. He has worked as a visiting research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory at Edwards AFB, CA, and at UC-Irvine, UC-Riverside, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and the University of Nevada, Reno. He routinely consults with K-12 teachers and visits local K-12 schools. Dr. Kenney is a native Californian (born in Long Beach, CA and graduated from high school in Bishop, CA). His earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry with High Distinction from the University of Nevada, Reno and his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Utah. He held a postdoctoral research appointment in Chemical Physics at Washington State University where he also directed the Science Learning and Instructional Center. Dr. Kenney's family scientific connections run very deep. His father was an industrial chemist and wife, Inga, is an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Concordia. His oldest daughter Clarissa, an optical physicist, is in graduate school at the University of Arizona working on a thesis project in white-light interferometry.
Dr. Kenney is known for his passionate, enthusiastic, high-energy, and innovative hands-on teaching style, for the depth and rigor of his classes, for his involvement of students in high-level scientific research (laser spectroscopy and inorganic/organometallic chemistry under extreme conditions and astronomical spectroscopy), and for his ability to transform the lives of his students and inspire them to achieve high professional and personal goals. He is a highly sought after professional, educational, scientific, and motivational speaker. A number of his former undergraduate students have completed Ph.D.'s and many are now highly regarded research scientists at the forefront of their disciplines. Many other Kenney students have gone on to medical school, dental school, physician assistant school, and veterinary school. In any given week, Dr. Kenney does science with grade school children, K-12 teachers, college undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral students, and world-class senior research scientists (and any categories in between)! Dr. Kenney is also known as a program builder with a long track record of attracting major funding, grants, donations, equipment, facilities, and quality personnel to launch and rapidly accelerate outstanding new science teaching and research programs in chemistry and physics/astronomy at the university level. Under his leadership, Concordia University instituted its thriving majors in chemistry and physics/astronomy.

"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by Don McClelland

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