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Astronomy Speaker's Night - JWST and the Search for Life in Unexpected Places

Speaker: June Parsons 

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.

Who can attend: Everyone


- Up to 14 years old: $15.69

- 15 or more years old: $17.72

Registration Link: ActiveRH

Location: David Dunlap Observatory (DDO)

Organized by: RASC, Toronto Centre


Abstract: High mass stars are inhospitable to life for a variety of reasons including their short lifetimes. Luckily, only 6 of the more than 130 stellar and sub-stellar objects discovered within 20ly of us are more massive than the Sun. This is one of the reasons astronomers have directed their attention to red dwarf stars, which are plentiful in our neighbourhood, have long lifetimes to allow for the development of life, and are ideal for observing transits of exoplanets in the habitable-zone with our current capabilities. As we await results from JWST observing the atmospheres of exoplanets in red dwarf systems, such as Trappist-1 and K2-18, we can ask the question, could even lower mass sub-stellar objects be capable of hosting life as we know it? In this talk we will explore the possible types of planets we might consider when searching for life in the Solar neighbourhood.

Speaker bio: June Parsons is an astrophysicist and graduate student at York University in Toronto. June works with terrestrial exoplanet atmosphere models with a focus on biosignatures. Their interests span from very quiet low mass substellar systems up to chaotic high mass variable star systems with a focus on how Earth like life would look in systems that are very different from our solar system. June is also interested in science communication and public outreach activities including 7 years of working at the Allan I. Carswell observatory and development of low cost open source astronomical hardware and software to reduce the barriers between the public and engaging in astronomy.