Stars, oceans focus of talks in Forks starting Saturday

The Olympic Natural Resources Center will host a mobile planetarium Saturday, and on Sept. 13, a talk will be given on ocean acidification and algal blooms.

FORKS — The Olympic Natural Resources Center will host the University of Washington’s Astronomy Program, complete with the Mobile Planetarium, on Saturday.

On Sept. 13, an Evening Talk at the center at 1455 S. Forks Ave., will be on Ocean Acidification and Harmful Algal Blooms on the Washington Coasts with the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography’s Parker MacCready.

Programs are free, funded through the Rosmond Forestry Education Fund. Refreshments will be served and a potluck of favorite desserts is encouraged.


During Saturday’s interactive program, University of Washington graduate students from the Department of Astronomy will lead a science-based experience to discover more about the skies above.

Two programs are planned: a family-focused program from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and a program specifically for adults from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Both afternoon and evening programs will be in the Hemlock Forest Room.

The planetarium shows are about 20 minutes long so groups of people can cycle through the performances or come back in for a repeat viewing.

In addition to the planetarium show there will be other activities, including a PowerPoint presentation and the use of a telescope.

The afternoon session will include child-focused presentations and activities, while the evening session will include more in-depth presentations.


The volunteer presenters are Rodrigo Luger, John Lurie, Margaret Lazzarini, Phoebe Sanderbeck and Diana Windemuth.

Luger is a fifth-year doctoral student searching for planets around other stars and trying to understand whether they might be habitable.

His interest is in binary systems and the structure of the Milky Way.

Lazzarini is a second-year doctoral student focusing on high-energy astronomy, currently working to categorize the X-ray source population in Andromeda.

Sanderbeck is a fifth-year doctoral student whose research forces on the physics of the early universe.

Windemuth is a fourth-year graduate student working on detecting and characterizing extra-solar planets orbiting binary stars.

The planetarium’s dome, created by the company Go-Dome, is an inflatable room resembling an igloo.

About 10 feet high and 20 feet across, the dome can fit about two dozen viewers.

It is a fully functional planetarium that offers many of the same images as the high-tech planetarium located on university campus.

The planetarium runs Microsoft Research’s World Wide Telescope software on a laptop computer.

A large hemispherical mirror projects the high-density image from the back of the dome across three-quarters of its interior.

Sept. 13 talk

On Sept. 13, MacCready will speak beginning at 7 p.m. in the Hemlock Forest Room.

The coastal waters of Washington are highly productive because of the upwelling of nutrients.

However that same upwelling also brings water that is naturally more acidic than surface waters offshore, according to MacCready.

This combined with ocean acidification because of increased carbon dioxide has caused serious problems for shellfish growers because larval oysters often cannot survive the corrosive conditions.

Another threat, especially for razor clams, is the harmful algal blooms that often close beaches to shellfish harvesting.

MacCready will describe a new tool to respond to these issues: the LiveOcean daily forecast model. LiveOcean makes a three-day forecast of ocean conditions every day, much like a weather model, including biological and chemical properties.

MacCready has been on the faculty at the UW School of Oceanography since 1994, specializing in the physics of ocean circulation in coastal and estuarine regions.

He collaborates with chemists and biologists to build computer models of ocean circulation and biogeochemistry.

He received his doctorate in 1991 from UW, a master’s from California Institute of Technology in 1986, and is an author listed on more than 50 publications.

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