Month: October 2014

Profiles of Astronomers: Jordyn Marxen

jordyn This week we feature one of our eager undergraduates, Jordyn Marxen!

Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Jordyn and I was born and raised in the beautiful Northwest. My hometown for the last 16 years or so has been Bremerton, but I love being able to call Seattle my home away from home!

How did you become interested in Astronomy?
I fell in love with astronomy while I was still in elementary school. At the time I only recognized the Big Dipper, so one night when I saw what I later learned was Orion’s Belt, I began researching what I had seen in the sky and I haven’t stopped since!
If you’re an astronomer, what do you study?
I am only an undergraduate currently in my junior year, so I am just starting to take the core astronomy classes. However I am fascinated by black holes and nebula, so perhaps either one may be where my field of study ends up.

What’s the coolest thing (not literal) in the Universe?
I think the coolest thing in the universe is that some of the elements that make life possible are found in the cores of stars. When these massive balls of gas explode, they scattered their enriched guts across the cosmos and allow life to form!

What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?
My passion outside of astronomy is yoga. Both the physical and spiritual aspects have helped me in life, and have even deepened my love for astronomy and the inner connection of everything!
What’s your favorite non-astronomy hobby?

Anything else you’d like the public to know about you?
I really enjoy being involved in campus activities and community service. Aside from just being an astronomy/physics student, I’m one of the officers in the League of Astronomers (UW’s astronomy club), a member in the UW Naval ROTC battalion, and an officer in Yogis at UW (UW’s yoga club). My dream job is to be the first woman to walk on the moon, but I’d also love to just travel the world!

UW Planetarium Open Nights – November 2014


Hey all!

We’re back again with our second Open Night with the UW planetarium! This one will occur on November 7th, and again have two shows. The links for the two shows are here:


This next set of shows will focus on some of the notable constellations in the November sky, as well as the interesting objects (an entirely biased judgement call) embedded within. As always, bring your family, bring your friends, and most importantly, bring your questions!

For more about this and further updates about the planetarium, stay tuned here or follow us on twitter @uwplanetarium.

See you soon!

Profiles of Astronomers: Charli Sakari


Keeping in line with firsts, we have our first post-doc! Welcome investigator of the stars, Charli Sakari!

Who are you and where are you from?

I am Charli Sakari. I am a post-doctoral research associate. I am originally from Springfield, OR, but I recently moved here from Victoria, BC, where I finished my PhD.


How did you become interested in Astronomy?

Star Trek! I grew up with Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I never really thought about it as a career option. In college, I started as an applied math major. We had to choose a second major to go with applied math, and I realized that astronomy would be perfect!


If you’re an astronomer, what do you study?

I study what stars are made of, specifically stars in star clusters. Some of the clusters I have studied are in the Milky Way, while others are in more distant galaxies like the Andromeda Galaxy.


What’s the coolest thing in the Universe?

Globular clusters! They are both beautiful and complex.


What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?



What’s your favorite non-astronomy hobby?

Creative things, like playing music and knitting

Profiles of Astronomers: Eric Agol

We finally have our first faculty member! Dr. Eric Agol, man of many talents!

Who are you and where are you from?

Eric Agol, from California


How did you become interested in Astronomy?

I had a summer job working on the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite data with George Smoot’s group after graduating from UC Berkeley. The profound discovery of the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background is what got me interested in astronomy.


If you’re an astronomer, what do you study?



What’s the coolest thing (not literal) in the Universe?

That we can see (with telescopes) photons created in the Big Bang (which may be literal as well).


What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?

Robotic cars (you will text & drive to your heart’s content).


What’s your favorite non-astronomy hobby?

Beach volleyball – although I haven’t played in years!

UW Planetarium Open Night Feedback

One of the guests from this past Friday’s Open Planetarium Open Night graced us with this wonderful feedback! With his permission we reproduce it here.


I attended the 8:30 PM session of the Open Planetarium today and boy! was it fantastic! I am really glad my friend brought me along and your narration combined with the 3D projections was a pure delight! Thanks man!

Before I go forward, let me give you a brief about me. I am graduate student (from India) @ Foster School of Business. I had a phase in life (Read: Middle and High School) where space and universe interested me a lot. I read a lot about various stars, their compositions, Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of time and Einstein compendium on Relativity. Though much of the stuff didn’t make sense to me, it was pretty interesting and it was fun. I, somehow, lost touch with this side of me and your session today brought it all back. It was a walk down the memory lane for me. I really owe you one for that.

I really hope we can work out a volunteership for me. What I lack in knowledge, I will certainly make up for that in my enthusiasm. I would really love to do what you did today in some distant future.

Hoping to hear from you soon!

UW Open Nights: October 2014 – Stars and Stories


Tonight we begin our first of what will be a monthly series of open planetarium shows. Our planetarium’s technical coordinator, Nicholas Hunt-Walker, will be talking about some of the stories accompanying the constellations we see throughout the year, as well as some of the actual physical objects that reside unseen within those constellations. Join us tonight for one of two shows, and please please PLEASE bring your questions with you!

Space is currently unavailable for this month’s showing, but fret not! We’ll be doing this every month, and we’ll keep you posted right here when we schedule our next cosmic adventure!

Profiles of Astronomers: Breanna Binder

Here’s the profile of Dr. Breanna Binder, former grad student and current post doc at the University of Washington, Seattle!

Who are you and where are you from?
I’m Breanna Binder, a postdoc in the astronomy department and physics lecturer over at UW Bothell. I grew up near Los Angeles, CA, and went to college at UC San Diego.

How did you become interested in Astronomy?
When I was in middle school I complained about being bored in science class. My dad bought me “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan – I read it and was hooked!

If you’re an astronomer (grad student/faculty), what do you study?
I study high mass X-ray binaries: massive, evolved binary star systems (massive stars that are born with a sibling), usually composed of a normal star and a neutron star or black hole.

What’s the coolest thing (not literal) in the Universe?
That we know as much about it as we do! More specifically, I have always thought black holes are the coolest.

What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?
Human evolution. I took several biological anthropology classes in college and even considered changing majors a few times.

What’s your favorite non-astronomy hobby?
Running and cooking

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
I love dogs! My best friend is my Labrador/Brittany mix named Sadie.