‘Hot Topics in Astronomy’ featured at Williamson County Library

Billy Teets
Billy Teets (Vanderbilt University)

Billy Teets, outreach astronomer at Vanderbilt University’s Dyer Observatory, will discuss upcoming celestial events, exoplanets and more Friday, May 8, at the Williamson County Public Library.

“Hot Topics in Astronomy,” which is free and open to the public, will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Teets said that no prior knowledge of physics and astronomy is needed to enjoy his informal talk.

“I will focus on what people will be interested in observing in the summer sky this year,” Teets said. “We will also create ‘star wheels’ to help participants locate objects in the evening sky throughout the year.”

Teets also will discuss the significance of exoplanets — planets that have been discovered around stars other than the sun. “Exoplanet research has become one of the hottest fields of astronomy over the past decade,” he said. “I will cover techniques and missions that have successfully discovered exoplanets. In addition, we will consider how astronomers determine some of the properties of the planets and their orbits.”

Teets, who grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee, went to Austin Peay State University, where he graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He earned his doctorate in astrophysics from Vanderbilt in 2012.

Teets began working at Dyer Observatory in 2006 as a student assistant and was promoted to staff astronomer in 2012. He offers public tours of the observatory, works with school groups that visit the observatory and operates the telescopes at public events, among other responsibilities.

Dyer Observatory is located at 1000 Oman Drive, off Granny White Pike between Old Hickory Boulevard and Otter Creek Road, near Radnor Lake. Built in 1953, Dyer Observatory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. It serves as a community resource for the teaching of science as well as a venue for public, private and corporate events.

Registration is encouraged for the monthly Vanderbilt at the Library programs. For more information, email Lynn Maddox or call 615-322-6384.