Prof. David Kirkby and Dylan Green

5000 eyes, Mapping the Universe, DESI, Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument

Friday, May 26 @ 7:00


Join Professor David Kirkby and Dylan Green from UCI for the OCC premier of the full dome planetarium show 5000 Eyes: Mapping the Universe with DESI and the following lecture! The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) consists of 5000 robotic fiber positioners that capture the light from distant galaxies and quasars to measure their distances and build the most accurate 3D map ever of the cosmos. Scientists will use this map to measure how the universe has expanded in the past and learn about the mysterious role of dark energy in accelerating this expansion.

David Kirkby
David lived in England, Canada and France before settling in California and joining the faculty at the University of California, Irvine. He was originally a particle physicist, studying the smallest building blocks of the universe with accelerators at CERN, in Europe, and SLAC, at Stanford University. He now studies the origin and evolution of the universe on the largest scales, with a
particular focus on understanding the cosmic acceleration that drives the universe to expand faster and faster each day. A lot of his day-to-day work involves data analysis, visualization, machine learning and astronomical

Dylan Green
Dylan was born in South Africa before moving to California at the age of 7. He received his Bachelor's of Science at the University of California, Irvine, where he is now completing his PhD in Physics with a concentration in astrophysics. His daily routine includes analyzing data and tweaking machine learning algorithms to improve our understanding of the universe, working for Prof. David Kirkby.


Past Guests

Dr. Steven W. Barwick

Steven Barwick

Friday, April 21

In the early 1990's, physicists began to consider the possibility of observing neutrinos from astrophysical sources to complement the traditional tools of astronomy, which relied on the observation of light and other variants of electromagnetic radiation. Being uncharged, neutrinos travel in straight lines (like light!) so they point back to the source that created them, but interact with other matter far more rarely than light. This property gives astrophysicists a unique unobstructed view of the core of powerful sources since neutrinos can escape in many situations where light is trapped.  In addition, once neutrinos are made, they will travel freely to us.  The downside - neutrinos are very difficult to detect.   I will discuss the rise of neutrino astronomy, and then focus on what comes next.

After receiving his Ph.D from UC-Berkeley in 1987, Professor Barwick joined the faculty of the department of physics and astronomy at UC Irvine in 1991. He has participated in experiments flown on massive balloons to measure high energy cosmic rays and antiparticle.  For most of his career, he has worked to develop a new astronomy that observes neutrinos.  He led the AMANDA project at the South Pole, which was the predecessor to the IceCube high energy neutrino observatory, and the ARIANNA high energy neutrino project, located in Antarctica. He was elected fellow of the American Physical Society in 2002, and currently chairs the Yodh Prize committee, which recognizes the most important contributions to the fields of particle astrophysics and cosmic rays.

Dr. Michael Bouchard

Michael Bouchard

March 24, 2023

People have been studying and charting the planets movements across the sky for thousands of years. Every new advancement in space exploration technology, from telescopes, to space probes, to landers and rovers, uncovers a new face of the red planet. And now we stand poised for our most ambitious attempt yet, to return samples from Mars!

Dr. Michael Bouchard loves two things, rocks and rovers!
Calling St. Louis Missouri home, he began his own journey of discovery camping and hiking across the country with his family and scouts.
Which turned into a love for the outdoors and asking questions about the world around him.
This led him to study Geology and Geophysics at Missouri University of Science Technology.
While there he discovered his other passion, rovers! He knew he wanted to explore other planets as well as Earth, so he started a robotics design team that designs and builds Mars rovers that compete in international competitions.
After his undergrad Michael continued his journey of discovery at Washington University in St. Louis,
where he completed his Masters and PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences, specializing in Martian geology.
Michael has now worked as both a scientist and engineer on three Mars rovers with
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory including a three-year stint as a member of the science team on the Opportunity rover.
He is currently a Payload Systems Engineer, working on the ambitious and incredibly exciting
Mars Sample Return mission. Which you may just hear something about today!

Emmanuel Masongsong

Emmanuel Masongsong

February 24, 2023

Learn how winds and storms from the sun create weather in space, and how it affects our daily lives, technology, and the future of space exploration. Discover how space weather can influence planetary habitability: creating water on the Moon and planets, and forming the molecules and conditions that could nurture life. Like extreme Earth-based weather, space weather can pose hazards to astronauts and space tourists, and can even disrupt our communications and electrical grid here on the ground. By studying space weather, we can better prepare and eventually predict its potential harms, as well as understand how stars interact with the planets and moons in their solar systems.

Emmanuel Masongsong has been a Program Manager with the Experimental Space Physics group in the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, since 2011. He coordinates several NASA satellite missions, manages lab facilities, and is passionate about science outreach, specifically increasing diversity and accessibility in STEM education. Having worked in viral genetics and cancer research for over a decade before his current role, he feels that studying any area of science can open doors and prepare you for almost any career. He is also a volunteer JPL Solar System Ambassador, presenting his team's work on space weather and Heliophysics at schools and events nationally, explaining the importance of Earth's magnetism and solar activity in our daily lives.

Katrina Carter-Journet


December 8, 2022

Katrina Carter-Journet has studied gravitational-wave astrophysics at the LIGO Livingston-Observatory, transitioned her interest to human space exploration by supporting various projects and programs at NASA, contributed to Reliability and Maintainability analyses for the Space Shuttle Program, Probabilistic Risk Assessments for the International Space Station, supported R&M for new Extravehicular Mobility Unit designs for future missions back to the moon and beyond, and moved to the commercial aerospace industry to work as an Engineering Specialist at Virgin Galactic. Katrina currently works supporting lunar projects and Orbital Reef at Blue Origin. 
Katrina's talk will recap the contributions of the Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station, her experience navigating the public and private aerospace industries, the future of exploration from the NASA Artemis program to Commercial Space, how private companies and government agencies work together to achieve their goals, and discuss how students today can be apart of this new phase of space exploration.

Dr. Jon Aurnou


November 12, 2022

Jon Aurnou is a professor of geophysics and planetary physics in UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences.  There he studies large scale turbulence in deep planetary atmospheres, sub-surface oceans, and in liquid metal planetary cores.  In addition, Aurnou is one of the co-founders of the DIYnamics Project that seeks to provide accessible hands-on tools for teaching core geoscientific concepts to learners at all levels. 

In this talk, we will carry out a suite of live fluid dynamics demonstrations using DIYnamics hardware kits in order to better our understanding of the essentials flows observed in planetary atmospheres and oceans and which underlie a given planet’s climatic conditions.  Using GoPros and cellphones, we will project images of our  DIYnamics experiments onto the planetarium dome, providing an unheralded opportunity to connect laboratory scale models to their complementary planetary flows. 

Dr. Jennifer Burt


October 27th, 2022

Dr. Burt is a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she focuses on the detection and characterization of small planets orbiting bright, nearby stars using telescopes around the globe. She now works inside NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Office at JPL to support the radial velocity community as we work towards the next big goal of detecting Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars.

Dr. Burt's presentation will explore how the exoplanet landscape has evolved rapidly over the last 25 years, as we have moved from knowing about just a handful of planets orbiting outside our solar system in the late 1990s to now having more than 5000 confirmed exoplanets in 2022. She will discuss the recent advancements in both science and technology that are enabling the discovery and characterization of hundreds of small planets orbiting bright, nearby stars, as well as touch on the steps required to proceed from our current science capabilities to NASA's future goal of directly imaging Earth-analog planets, Earth-like planets orbiting in the Habitable Zone of Sun-like stars.

Dr. Abhimat Gautam


September 23, 2022

Dr. Gautam is a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA, studying the star population and the dynamical environment near the supermassive black hole in the Milky Way Galactic center. He uses observations collected with the Keck telescopes located on Maunakea in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope to study the stellar populations at the Galactic center.

Dr. Gautam's presentation will discuss how to find the center of the Milky Way in the night sky and how astronomers observe the center of the galaxy with some of the most powerful telescopes on Earth. The Galactic Center is a unique and interesting environment and laboratory, filled with many recent and exciting discoveries, including the supermassive black hole which won the 2020 Nobel Prize in physics.