These are audio recordings of recent non-technical talks by noted astronomers. The lectures are presented on six Wednesday evenings during each school year at Foothill College, in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. Speakers over the years have included Nobel-prize winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences, the first woman in history to discover a planet, an astrophysicist who is an award-winning science fiction writer, and many other well-known scientists explaining astronomical developments in everyday language.

Will the 21st Century be the Time We Discover Life Beyond Earth?

11 Oct 2017 at 11:36am
In 2004, Craig Venter & Daniel Cohen suggested that if the 20th Century was the century of physics, the 21st Century will be the century of biology on our planet. Jill Tarter believes that their idea will be extended beyond the surface of our world and that we may soon have the first opportunity ... Read more...

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Is Anyone Out There: The $100 Million Breakthrough: Listen Project

15 Mar 2017 at 11:36am
What is the possibility of other intelligent life in the universe and how might we detect signals from alien civilizations? Dr. Werthimer describes current and future projects searching for such signals, including the new $100-million Breakthrough Prize Foundation Listen project. He shows how new... Read more...

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Beyond: Our Future in Space

15 Feb 2017 at 10:36am
DESCRIPTION: Decades after we last set foot on the Moon, and several years after the Space Shuttle was retired, space activity is finally leaving the doldrums. Permanent bases on the Moon and Mars are now within reach, and a new Space Race is brewing, with Asian countries ascendant. Dr. Impey rev... Read more...

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The ‘All-American’ Eclipse of the Sun this August

28 Jun 2017 at 11:36am
On August 21, 2017, there will be a rare eclipse of the Sun visible throughout the U.S. and North America. People in a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina will see a spectacular total eclipse, while everyone else will see a nice partial eclipse. Andrew Fraknoi, Foothill College, describes h... Read more...

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The Monster Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way Galaxy

20 Mar 2017 at 11:36am
By measuring the rapid orbits of the stars near the center of our galaxy, Dr. Andrea Ghez, UCLA, and her colleagues have moved the case for a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way from a possibility to a certainty. She reports on her pioneering observations and discusses some of t... Read more...

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Space-time Symphony: Gravitational Waves from Merging Black Holes

20 Mar 2017 at 11:26am
Gravitational waves are predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. They travel at the speed of light, but are much harder to detect than light waves. On September 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) received the first direct gravitational wave signa... Read more...

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The Science and Non-science of Star Wars

20 Mar 2017 at 11:16am
In this wide-ranging, humorous talk, Seth Shostak, SETI Institute, takes a look at Star Wars and other science fiction films from the point of view of a skeptical scientist, tells stories about the movies he has been asked to advise, and muses about aliens from space and how we might make contact... Read more...

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Finding a New Earth: Exoplanets and the Habitable Zone

25 Jul 2016 at 11:16am
Over 1500 new planetary systems have now been discovered, many of which include planets quite different from those in our own Solar System. A key step towards finding “Earth 2.0” will be to identify rocky planets that occupy the “Habitable Zone” of their stars. Dr. Stephen Kane (San Francisco Sta... Read more...

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How Things in the Universe Came About and How They Ended Up Within Us

25 Jul 2016 at 11:16am
Dr. Tom Abel (Stanford University) takes us on an illustrated journey through the early stages of the universe, using the latest computer animations of how the first (massive) stars formed and died, and how stars built up the first galaxies. He also discusses how the early stars seeded the cosmos... Read more...

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Report from the Planetary Frontier: The Latest from New Horizons at Pluto

24 Jun 2016 at 11:16am
On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft flew 7,800 mi above the surface of Pluto and sent back fascinating images of the dwarf planet and its large (and intriguing) moon Charon. Many of the images show unexpected beauty and complexity on Pluto’s surface. Dr. Jeff Moore from NASA Ames Resear... Read more...

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