In 1998 Google was launched, and pub quizzes were changed forever. Showing that humans are naturally curious, Google processes a whopping 40,000 queries every second. While Google is the ultimate question answerer and argument ender, there is something to be said for hearing an expert explain their area of knowledge and passion in person. This month, Stardome is hosting two Ask Me Anything nights for curious adults to put their hands up and ask…. anything!
On Thursday, 10 August, astrophotographer Rolf Wahl Olsen answered questions on how he captures the epic deep space photos. Rolf grew up in Demark and emigrated to NZ in 2003 to live beneath the Milky Way. From his small observatory in Titirangi, Rolf has captured remarkable images of deep space objects and nebula, including in 2011 when he made headlines as the first amateur astronomer to capture an image of the disk of dust and debris around beta Pictoris, a solar system 63.4 light-years away. In 2012, 2015 and 2016 Rolf made his mark with recognition from the prestigious Greenwich Royal Observatory Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, being shortlisted twice (2012 and 2014), awarded runner-up in 2015 and receiving a highly commended in 2016.
Deep space astrophotography is not for the faint hearted, in 2013 Rolf spent over 43 nights collecting 120 hours of data to create a photo of the faintest stars ever recorded by a backyard amateur telescope.
Rolf’s beautiful, colourful images bring life to the depths of space and require skill, patience and curiosity to capture. At the very first Lates at Stardome, the audience discovered how he started and got to hear about his deep space photos.
Thursday 17 August sees the University of Auckland’s astrophysicist and senior lecturer Dr JJ Eldridge at Stardome to talk about stars in their death throes. JJ studied for their PhD in astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and has completed postdoctoral research at the Institut d’Astrophysics de Paris, Queen’s University Belfast and the Institute of Astronomy. Visitors will get to ask all the questions they’ve ever wanted to about stars, the sun, astrophysics and as a self-proclaimed sci-fi addict JJ can answer questions about how true the science-fiction can be.
After question time, lean back in the reclining seats and take in the 360-degree view of the stars with a special planetarium show.