Novice Presentation: How We Know What We Know

Original article appears in GuideStar November, 2015.

by Debbie Moran, Novice Chair

Henrietta Swan Leavitt

For November, we have had to postpone the proposed variable star talk to accommodate a conflict, so I will do a fun talk that I hope will bring you guys out for elections called “How We Know What We Know.”  How do we know how far away stars and galaxies are?  How do we know what stars and planets are made of?  Why do we think the universe began with a bang?  How do we know black holes exist if we can’t see them?

Come see how the new play “Silent Sky” opening November 7th at Main Street Theater has everything to do with this topic.  It's the story of Henrietta Leavitt, a Massachusetts pastor's daughter who leaves her home for a job at Harvard University's Observatory. There she catalogs stars from photographic plates and meets Peter Shaw, the head astronomer's apprentice, who makes her re-think her vow never to marry. Despite her lowly position and limited access to scientific equipment, Henrietta makes an amazing discovery. But will she get the credit? Will her health give out before she gets the answers she’s seeking? Hope to see you all there!

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