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DDO: Astronomy Speaker's Night - How To Find Life On Another Planet (In Person)

David Dunlap Observatory (DDO)

Speaker name: Dr. Sarah Rugheimer

Description: Visit a unique historical site in Richmond Hill and experience an engaging presentation led by experts and researchers in astronomy, covering a variety of exciting astronomy topics. After the presentation, participants will tour the observatory and see a demonstration of the 74” telescope pointed to an interesting celestial object for the visitors to view (Weather Dependent). Please wear / bring appropriate supplies for being outside. A registered adult must accompany all registered participants under the age of 16. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to the program start time in order to be signed in. This program runs rain or shine.…

Abstract: This planet we call home is teeming with life from the very depths of the ocean where no light penetrates, to small brine layers between ice crystals and near-boiling iridescent waters of Yellowstone. As we discover the vast diversity of extremophile life on Earth, our minds can only begin to imagine the possibilities for life to exist on other planets in the Universe. In this talk I present how we are going to characterize terrestrial planet atmospheres orbiting other stars with future missions, starting with JWST, and hopefully find evidence of life in the Universe to answer the age-old question of "Are we alone?"

Speaker bio: Prof. Sarah Rugheimer is an astrophysicist and the Allan I Carswell Chair at York University in Toronto. She works on how to detect life on an exoplanet by looking for atmospheric biosignatures. Her research interests are modelling the atmosphere and climate of extrasolar planets with a particular focus on atmospheric biosignatures in Earth-like planets as well as modelling early Earth conditions. In addition to research, Sarah is interested in public outreach. Her TED talk “The Search for Microscopic Aliens” has over 1.6 million views on She previously has been awarded the Barrie Jones Award and the BSA Rosalind Franklin Lectureship in 2019, and the Caroline Herschel Lectureship Prize in 2018. Her new astrobiology course for the public is available on Amazon Audible Originals, called “Searching for Extraterrestrial Life.”