TriStar 2016 Logo

Note:  this event was held in spring 2016.
TriStar 2017 will be held on 3-4 March.
The 2017 schedule will be posted in the weeks before the event.

Sears Applied Technologies Center
Guilford Technical Community College
Jamestown, NC

4-5 March 2016

TriStar will be held on Saturday, 5 March 2016
A full day of speakers and displays.

Pre-TriStar AAS Shapley Lecture, Friday, 4 March, 7:00 p.m.


The Triad Starfest, *Tri*Star* for short, is a gathering of astronomers of all types, from novice to professional, for a full day of presentations, displays, and observing. The event allows astronomy enthusiasts to share ideas, learn about a range of astronomical topics, get together with old friends, and make new ones. The event will draw astronomers from North Carolina and surrounding states.

*Tri*Star* 2016 will be held on Saturday, 5 March, beginning at  8:30 a.m. in the Percy H. Sears Applied Technologies Center on the campus of Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, NC.

In addition to a series of speakers scheduled throughout the day, there will be a wide range of astronomical displays, assorted astronomy-related vendors, prize drawings, “how-to” help for astronomy beginners, an astrophotography contest, and daytime and nighttime observing sessions (weather permitting).

In addition to Saturday’s agenda, *Tri*Star* usually features a special Friday evening presentation held in the Auditorium of the Sears Building (the same location as Saturday’s activities), at 7:00 p.m., with Cline Observatory open for observing after the talk, weather permitting.  This year’s featured speaker is Dr. Patrick Miller of Hardin-Simmons University. Dr. Miller directs the International Asteroid Search Collaboration.  He comes to GTCC through the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship Program of the American Astronomical Society.

Best of all, there is no registration fee – this event is free and open to anyone with an interest in astronomy!

Note: In case inclement weather causes the Jamestown Campus of GTCC to be closed on the date of *Tri*Star*, please monitor campus status before coming to GTCC. Information is available at the GTCC web page, on Twitter @gtccastro, or by dialing the GTCC switchboard at 336-334-4822.

 *Tri*Star* 2016 Schedule

Friday, 4 March, 7:00 p.m. Pre-TriStar Shapley Public Lecture, Applied Technologies Auditorium

Patrick Miller (Hardin-Simmons University)

Asteroid Threats to Earth – How You Can Make Discoveries!

In addition to the major planets, the Solar System contains debris. This debris consists of rock and ice boulders, ranging in size from inches to miles. On occasion, these boulders wander into near-Earth space…crossing our orbit and posing a very real risk to life and limb. Where did these boulders come from? Where are they found? How do they make their way to Earth? Can we find them before they threaten Earth? Can you help search for and discover these boulders? Yes, you can!

Saturday at *Tri*Star*

Time Activity
8:30 Doors Open – Coffee and Refreshments
9:20 Welcome and Announcements
 9:30 Dr. Peter Prendergast

Robotic Observing:  Challenging Accepted Dogma

The lecture will cover foundational topics in astrophotography, which will be followed by an introduction to robotic observing. Additionally, several topics concerning establishing a successful observatory will be explored in some considerable detail. While emphasis will be placed on the fundamentals, topics of an advanced nature will also be discussed in some detail. Pitfalls in construction and calibration of equipment and image subframes, and how to avoid these pitfalls, will also be covered. Examples of equipment/software and image processing will be presented. Throughout the lecture, myths regarding polar alignment and other “known” fundamental will be challenged. This lecture is not meant to be all inclusive but should enable the listener to develop a list of questions needed to establish a remote observatory or even get a backyard system up and running with the least amount of effort.

Dr. Peter Prendergast’s love of science and technology began with an Electrical Engineering degree from Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. Upon graduating from Clarkson, he chose human sciences and obtained his medical degree from Syracuse University.  He enjoyed over 30 years of a successful medical career in Internal Medicine and as an executive physician administrator.  Peter’s medical career funded his passion for astronomy over the past 20 years, and his recent retirement from medicine has afforded him the opportunity to return to his engineering roots and love of all things technology.  Today he is a student at both Guilford Technical Community College and Wake Forest University, where he is formalizing his astronomy and physics knowledge.

10:30 Break
11:00 Dr. Brad Barlow, High Point University

The Influence of Planets and Brown Dwarfs on Late Stellar Evolution

Planets and brown dwarfs in close orbits around main sequence stars will interact with their stellar hosts once they ascend the red giant branch. The details of these interactions and their outcomes are currently unclear. Recent discoveries of brown dwarfs orbiting post-red giant branch “hot subdwarf” stars imply that (i) the angular momentum resident in an orbiting substellar object is sufficient for ejecting the outer layers of a red giant’s atmosphere and (ii) the substellar object can survive this interaction. Thirty-six new eclipsing hot subdwarf binaries with cool, low-mass companions were discovered from light curves obtained through the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) project, tripling the number of known systems. We recently started the Eclipsing Reflection Effect Binaries from the OGLE Survey (EREBOS) project to obtain follow-up spectroscopy and determine the stellar masses in these systems. The companion mass distribution resulting from this work will allow us to determine whether there is a lower mass limit for substellar objects to eject a red giant’s envelope and survive engulfment, as suggested by theory. Here I give a brief overview of the EREBOS project and discuss progress towards this goal.

Dr. Brad Barlow joined the Department of Physics at High Point University as an Assistant Professor in 2013.  Before moving to the Triad, he completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2011 and spent two years as a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at Penn State University. His research primarily focuses on pulsating stars, late stellar evolution, and binary star systems. He has also collaborated on research projects involving pulsators in the Kepler field, X-ray binaries, white dwarfs, and exoplanets. While at Chapel Hill he helped develop software for the Goodman spectrograph on the 4.1-m SOAR telescope on Cerro Pachon in Chile. Originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, Brad did his undergraduate studies at Mississippi State University. His other interests include playing the piano, writing music, cycling, and public outreach.

12:00 Lunch Break, Solar Observing
1:50 Announcements
2:00 Dr. Patrick Miller, Hardin-Simmons University, Visiting AAS Shapley Lecturer

Debris Fields in the Solar System

In addition to the major planets, the Solar System contains three debris fields. This debris consists of rock and ice boulders, ranging in diameter from centimeters to kilometers. The nature of these fields along with their location, formation, and role within the Solar System…will be discussed. Also discussed will be the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a free program for amateur astronomers and students to take an active part in the original discovery of these boulders using data from Pan-STARRS (University of Hawaii) and the Catalina Sky Survey (University of Arizona).

Dr. Patrick Miller is Professor of Mathematics at Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, TX). In addition, he teaches astronomy at community colleges and universities, both undergraduate and graduate. He conducts astronomy research methods courses at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He founded and directs the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC). Through IASC, students make original discoveries of near-Earth objects, Main Belt asteroids, and trans-Neptunian objects using data provided by Pan-STARRS (University of Hawaii), Catalina Sky Survey (University of Arizona), and the Dark Energy Survey (University of Michigan).

3:00 Break
3:30 Dr. Michael Solontoi, Lynchburg College

Killer Death Rocks from Outer Space

The Earth lives in a busy part of the Solar System. A host of small rocky and icy bodies orbit near, and sometimes impact our planet. How did these relics of early times in the Solar System come to interact with us, and how are we surveying them for their scientific (and our survival!) merits? The presentation will cover planetary impacts, asteroids and comets, how they come to orbit near us, and how we observe and study them, including current Near-Earth Object studies and the upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

Dr. Michael Solontoi is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Lynchburg College, and the Director of the Belk Astronomical Observatory.  His research interests lie in understanding the properties, evolution, and origins of the relic populations of the Solar System, asteroids and comets, through observations, dynamical simulations, and particularly the application of large scale survey data to the study of these objects. He has worked on comets and asteroids with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and is a member of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope’s Solar System Science Collaboration.

4:30 Prize Drawings
4:50 Final Announcements & Adjourn
7:00 Observing session at Cline Observatory (weather permitting)