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Kapteyn Astronomical InstitutePublic outreach events

Blaauw lecture

Poster Blaauwlecture 2018
Poster Blaauwlecture 2018
The lecture has already taken place, for an impression see:

Each year the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute organizes the Blaauw lecture. This is a lecture by an internationally renowned astronomer which everyone, including the general public, can attend. The level of the lecture is such that everyone should be able to understand it. This year, the Blaauw Lecture will take place on Wednesday October 31 in the Aula of the Academy Building of the University of Groningen. It starts at 8 p.m.

Blaauw lecture 2018: The world’s most advanced eyes on the sky

Advances in technology have enabled marvellous progress in our understanding of the Universe. Today’s telescopes allow study of the Universe all the way back in time to its earliest stages, and they provide firm evidence for planets orbiting other stars. They may -- in the near future -- reveal the existence of life on other worlds. The lecture will address the longstanding link between technology and astronomy, the role of international cooperation, and touch on the development and achievements of ESO’s Very Large Telescope, of the Hubble and Gaia space telescopes, and will briefly look forward to ESO’s future Extremely Large Telescope with its 39m diameter main mirror.  

Tim de Zeeuw received his PhD degree from Leiden University in 1984. He subsequently held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study and at the California Institute of Technology before returning to Leiden in 1990 as professor of theoretical astronomy. His research focuses on the formation, structure and dynamics of galaxies including our own Milky Way. He was co-PI of the SAURON project, which combined theoretical modelling and ground-breaking integral-field spectroscopy to revolutionise our understanding of the nature and formation of early-type galaxies. He has supervised 30 PhD theses, was co-founder of the Lorentz Center in Leiden, directed the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy NOVA and the Leiden Observatory, served on oversight committees for AURA, ESA, ESO and NASA, and led the development of the European Science Vision for Astronomy in 2007. He was Director General of ESO from 2007-2017, a period in which the Very Large Telescope was equipped with second generation instruments, the construction of ALMA was completed, and construction of the 39m Extremely Large Telescope was approved, funded and started. He has since returned to Leiden, and also holds a visiting professorship at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. De Zeeuw received the 2001 Prix Descartes-Huygens, the 2010 Brouwer Award of the Dynamical Division of the American Astronomical Society, and holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Lyon, Chicago and Padua.

Tim de Zeeuw, Blaauw Professor 2018
Tim de Zeeuw, Blaauw Professor 2018

The Blaauw chair and the Blaauw lecture

The Blaauw chair and Blaauw lecture were initiated in 1997 as one of six visiting professorships in the Faculty of Science and Engineering. This was an idea of Prof. Dr. P.C. van der Kruit, the dean of the faculty at that time. The Blaauw professor is selected by the scientific staff of the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute through advice to the board of the Faculty which then makes the actual appointment. The Blaauw professor will be at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute for approximately two months and will have as much contact as possible with students, graduate students and postdocs. The criteria for the selection are excellence in research, broad knowledge of astronomy and an outstanding international status in astronomy.

The chair is named after Prof. A. Blaauw in honor of his outstanding scientific and organisational achievements and his extremely important impact on astronomy in Groningen, The Netherlands and the world.

The Blaauw professors

Michael Feast (South-African Astronomical Observatory and University of Cape Town, South-Africa, 1999)

Rob Kennicutt (Steward Observatory and University of Arizona, USA, 2001)

Martin Harwitt (Cornell University, USA, 2002)

Ken Freeman (Mount Stromlo Observatory and Australian National University, Australia, 2003)

Joe Silk (Oxford University, UK, 2004)

Simon  White (Max-Plack-Institut fur Astrophysic, Germany, 2005)

Colin Norman (Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University, USA, 2006)

Donald Lynden-Bell (Cambridge University, UK, 2007)

Andrea Ferrara (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy, 2008)

Scott Tremaine (Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA, 2009)

Ron Ekers (Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, Australia, 2010)

Françoise Combes (Paris Observatory, LERMA, France, 2011)

Roger Blandford (Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at SLAC, Stanford University, 2012)

Daniela Calzetti (University of Massachussets, Amhurst, USA, 2013)

Alex Szalay (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, 2014)

Mark Krumholz (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA, 2015)

Rosemary Wyse (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, 2016)

Anna Scaife (Jodrell Bank Interferometry Centre of Excellence at the University of Manchester, Engeland, 2017)

Professor Adriaan Blaauw

Professor Blaauw was born in Amsterdam in 1914. He studied at Leiden University and worked from 1938 in Groningen with Professor P.J. van Rhijn. In 1945 he went back to Leiden but shortly after he finished his thesis which resulted in his promotion with Professor Van Rhijn at the RUG in 1946. His thesis was titled: "A study of the Scorpio-Centaurus cluster". In the following years he worked twice during a longer period at the Yerkes observatory in Chicago and took part in astrometry expeditions to Kenya organised by Leiden University in which precise positions of stars were measured. In 1953 he left for an appointment as associate professor at the Yerkes Observatory and the University of Chicago. In 1957 he returned to Groningen to become director of the "Sterrenkundig Laboratorium Kapteyn". He was very successful as director and managed to revive astronomy in Groningen after a bad period, and bring it back to the prominent position it had at the time of Kapteyn.

Professor Blaauw was closely involved in the founding of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) which now is a leader in astronomy world wide with the largest optical telescope in the world at Paranal, Chile. From 1970 until 1975 he was General Director. At the end of his term he decided to go to Leiden where he stayed until his pension in 1981. During that time he was President of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). He also led the process of defining the scientific programme for the very successful astrometric satellite Hipparcos. After his pension Professor Blaauw returned to Groningen where he was connected to the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute as emeritus professor.

Besides his prestigious international positions he has continued doing research throughout his career. His area of research is the structure of our Galaxy and the formation of stars. His main contributions are the explanation of the origin of stars that move with high velocity in our galaxy and the description of star formation in associations.

After his retirement in 1981, Professor Blaauw returned to the Kapteyn Institute in Groningen. In his later years he wrote books on the history of the IAU and of ESO, as well as historical studies of the characteristic farms in the province of Drenthe. He remained active in research on young stellar groups, on "runaways" and their relationship with pulsars and supernovae, and he played an active role in scientific discussions at the Kapteyn Institute. Up to his final months he gave numerous interviews and presentations on the history of Dutch and worldwide astronomy. He passed away on December 1st, 2010.

Every year the Kapteyn Institute organises the Blaauw-lecture. Here you find the Blaauw professor for the current year and some background information regarding this chair and lecture.

Last modified:24 November 2018 07.56 a.m.
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