Interested in the big questions about the cosmos? 

The University of Missouri-Columbia Department of Physics & Astronomy, in conjunction with the Central Missouri Astronomical Association , presents:

"Cosmic Conversations" is a lecture series hosted by the Department of Physics & Astronomy in conjunction with the Laws Observatory and the Central Missouri Astronomical Association. Scheduled at 7 pm the first Wednesday of each month in room 114 of the Physics building, the topic of each talk relates to the cosmos; why we see the Moon the way we do, how to take night-time photos, how meteors relate to global extinctions, how did early Native Americans see the sky and a host of other topics in which the heavens play a role.

The Laws Observatory will be open following each presentation for viewing of the night-time sky (weather permitting). In addition, the Stankowski Field lights will be switched off to improve the view!.

SCHEDULE Fall 2014




September 3rd


Physics & Astronomy Dept. Picnic!

October 1st

Wouter Montfrooij
(Physics & Astronomy)

The Day That Time Began

November 5th (Remember, remember)

Duane Hamacher

(ARC Discovery Research Fellow,
Nura Gili Indigenous Centre,
University of New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia.)

Under Aboriginal Skies: The astronomy of Indigenous Australians

December 3rd

Suchi Guha
(Physics & Astronomy)

Power up with Plastics

Winter/Spring 2015




February 4th 2015

Angela Speck
(Physics & Astronomy)

(due to flu)

March 4th 2015

Angela Speck
(Physics & Astronomy)

Cosmic Rendezvous - deciphering comets

April 1st 2015

Eric Cropp
(Physics & Astronomy / Political Science)

Science is going green: how astronomy gets funded

May 6th 2015


(due to Catalyst Awards ceremony - schedule conflict)


If you would like to see an example of what these talks are like,
here is Angela Speck talking about Pluto's Demise and Resurrection

And another where she is taking about Why Astrology is Nonsense

And yet another where she is talking about From the Big Bang to Life - the Origin of the Elements

Here is Alex Sehlke talking about Volcanoes of the Solar System

Alex Sehlke talking about Volcanoes of the Solar System

Alan Whittington talking about Comet and Asteroid Impacts! (1st show), (2nd show)

Zack Buck talking about Neutron Scattering

Nick Parmley talking about Connecting the Dot: a cultural tour of the heavens

Here's a news item on KOMU from the November 6th 2013 "Comets and Asteroid Impacts" event

Past talks

David Arrant

A Tour through the constellations

Saturn: Lord of the Rings

Sean Baldridge

The Elusive Neutrino

Michael Barnes

Dog Stars and Divine Hunters: Heavenly Bodies in Early Greek Poetry and Myth.

Larry Brown

Cosmic Reflections on the Cultural Landscape

Zack Buck

Applications of Neutron Scattering and the Techniques Used to Advance out Understanding of Complex Materials.

Dan Caputo

Spaghettification, and other ways the universe is trying to kill you.

Caitlin Casey

20th Century Telescopes:
The Race to the Edge of the Universe

Signe Cohen

The Infinite Order: Religion and Astronomy in Ancient India.

Adrian Corman

Lives & Deaths of Stars

Nelson De Souza

One Small Step: Building The Distance Ladder

Cori Fletcher

The History of Radio Astronomy

Val Germann

Telescopes, Optics and the Renovation of the Laws Observatory 16-inch 'Scope

Rooftop Sky Tour

What's Up: the night sky for the Winter/Spring semester

Telescopes: How they work and what you can see with them

Rainer Glaser

Prebiotic synthesis of biological molecules in interstellar space

Linda Godwin

Exploring Space from Low Earth Orbit: Where to we go from here?

Suklima Guha Niyogi

The Lives of Stars

Aaron Kaberline

Habitable Exoplanets and the Goldilocks Zone

Craig Kleuver

A Personal History of NASA Projects

Phil Knocke

Curiosity and Spirit: Missions to Mars

Harrison Knoll

Will you explode in space and other movie myths

Melanie Koehler

The Orion Nebula

ShunLin Liang

The Sun, Our Star

Ken MacLeod

It Came from Outer Space: Recent controversies regarding the K/T boundary

Bahram Mashhoon

The fate of the universe

Arielle Newgard

Islam and the Moon

Nick Parmley

Connecting the Dot: a cultural tour of the heavens

Rita Reed

Night-time Photography

Lanika Ruzhitskaya

Women In Astronomy

The Universe on Your Computer

Alex Sehlke

Volcanoes of the Solar System

Mark Smith

Was Galileo Really a Martyr for Scientific Truth?

Angela Speck

Planetary Nebulae - beauty in stellar death

Are we really gonna die? Myths about the end of the world and the Mayans have to do with it

Pluto's Demise and Resurrection

Nuclear processes in the cosmos

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Moon, But Were Afraid to Ask

The rabbit in the moon and other lunar myths

Why Astrology is Nonsense

From the Big Bang to Life - the Origin of the Elements

Josh Tartar

Dust, Dirt and Debris in the Solar System

Carsten Ullrich

Anthropic principle and multiverses

Mike Urban

Global Warming, Climate Change, and Impacts on the US

Todd vanPool

Man and Woman Circle the Hearth: Archaeoastronomy in the American Southwest

Giovanni Vignale

The Distance of the Moon:
A physicist's improvisation on the Earth-Moon system, love, and the laws of physics

Mark Volkmann

Is the moon made of cheese? Misconceptions in Astronomy

Alan Whittington

Armageddon: Meteorite Impacts


Comet and Asteroid Impacts! (1st show)
Comet and Asteroid Impacts! (2nd show)

Haojin Yan

HST, JWST and why they are important

Matt Connolly
& Tom Zhang

Student IGERT Neutron Scattering Talks


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