The Catholic University of America

Media Advisory


Astronomy Lecture: "From Comets to Black Holes" and Viewing of the Moon and Saturn Through Telescopes

WHEN: Thursday, April 2, 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Catholic University of America
Hannan Hall, Room 108
620 Michigan Ave., N.E.
Washington, D.C.


As part of the International Year of Astronomy, which celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of a telescope, Associate Professor of Physics Duilia de Mello will give a one-hour lecture and slide presentation titled "From Comets to Black Holes." De Mello will talk about what astronomers have learned since Galileo's day, including their recent identification of hundreds of planets circling stars outside our solar system.

After the lecture, de Mello and the audience will proceed outdoors to enjoy - weather permitting - a "star party" in front of Hannan Hall. Everyone will get the opportunity to look at the moon and Saturn through telescopes, while listening to astronomy-related music.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's stargazing and of Johannes Kepler's publication of his work Astronomia nova, the United Nations and the International Astronomical Union have named 2009 the International Year of Astronomy.

Catholic University's April 2 events are part of the "100 Hours of Astronomy" events held worldwide from April 2 through April 5 in celebration of the special year. One of the key goals of the 100 Hours of Astronomy is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope as Galileo did 400 years ago.

De Mello is a research associate at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in addition to being a Catholic University associate professor of physics. Raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she studies distant galaxies - particularly those that are colliding with each other, which often produces the side effect of star bursts indicating the formation of new stars.

In 1997 de Mello made headlines when she discovered a distant supernova - a star that suddenly increases up to a billion times in brightness - that was later named SN1997D. This discovery earned her the nickname of "Mulher das Estrelas" (Woman of the Stars) in her homeland.

The events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 202-319-5325.

SPONSOR: CUA's Department of Physics

MEDIA: To cover the lecture, reporters must contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.