Astronomy, beer, trivia -- oh, my! The Texas A&M University Astronomy Group invites Brazos Valley science enthusiasts to partake this week in Bryan-College Station's version of an international tradition founded in the spirit of exploring our universe and local refreshment: Astronomy on Tap.

The inaugural Astronomy on Tap B/CS event, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday (April 12) at Revolution Café and Bar, will feature two speakers, Texas A&M astronomer Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff and Texas A&M astronomy graduate student Peter Chi. Chi will present "Dark Side of the Universe (we have cookies)," followed by Suntzeff's "The Day With No Yesterday: the Creation of the Universe."

Astronomy on Tap (AoT) originated in New York City as the creation of Meg Schwamb, currently an assistant scientist at Gemini Observatory's North Operations Center in Hilo, Hawaii. Each event varies by location -- from Austin to Taipei -- but the common thread is sharing interest in and information about astronomy over a beverage at a local bar, where local experts can provide accessible, engaging presentations on topics ranging from planets to black holes to galaxies to the origin of the universe.

"Texas A&M's astronomy program is relatively new but growing rapidly," said Texas A&M astronomy graduate student and AoT B/CS organizer Alexander Riley. "Only two years ago we officially added an astronomy Ph.D., and just last week was the first time -- to our knowledge -- that a Texas A&M astronomy grad student, Taylor Hutchison, won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Many of the AoT locations also coincide with geographical hubs of strong astronomy institutions, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington in Seattle, Ohio State, the University of Chicago and New York with Princeton and NYU, etc. So it's fairly natural that, when you concentrate enough astronomy in one spot, an AoT satellite location follows."

Riley says the impetus for Aggieland's iteration of the increasingly popular event came last October during an astronomy conference hosted by UT Austin that featured a special AoT session as one of the highlights.

"A couple of Texas A&M astronomy graduates, myself included, were there, and that was our first real exposure to it," Riley said. "During the event, we kept on saying, 'This can totally be a thing in College Station.'

"The great thing about AoT is that everybody wins. Locals get to hear about the awesome research and events that are happening in astronomy. Astronomers get to practice their communication skills, both as speakers and just in normal conversations. There's a real connection that forms, and people get to see where some of their tax dollars go and the true value of that investment, from the people to the results. They also get to see real living scientists as human beings who have lives and make jokes and drink beer."

Doors open at 6 p.m. for the event, and RSVPs are encouraged but not required. For additional information, see the event page on the AoT website or the related Facebook event. You can also follow AoT B/CS on Facebook and Twitter.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Alexander Riley, (979) 845-7778 or alexriley@tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Alexander Riley

    (Credit: Alexander Riley.)

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