Toowoomba Astronomy Main Event followed by stargazing

17 AUG 2018
6.00 PM - 9.00 PM
Allison Dickson Lecture Theatre, USQ Toowoomba

USQ is delighted to host key speakers, Dr Jessie Christiansen (NASA Exoplanet Science Institute - Caltech) and Dr Duane Hamacher (Indigenous Studies Centre - Monash University) at USQ Toowoomba. 

On the Road to a Billion Planets, presented by Dr Jessie Christiansen 

Over the last 30 years, the number of exoplanets discovered outside our solar system has increased exponentially. We are now poised at an incredibly exciting time where we are moving from characterization of individual exoplanets to studying their populations. What we are finding over and over again is that nature has more imagination than we do! The number and configurations of solar systems we have found has, in fact, raised far more questions than it has answered. Dr Christiansen will discuss some of the most interesting discoveries, and introduce the NASA TESS mission, which will provide thousands of new planets (and questions!) for us to explore. 

Reading the Stars: 65,000 years of Aboriginal Astronomy, presented by Dr Duane Hamacher 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people developed a number of practical ways to observe the Sun, Moon and stars to inform navigation, calendars, predict weather, and inform Law and social structure. This knowledge contains a significant scientific component, which is encoded in oral traditions and material culture. This talk will explore the ways in which Indigenous Australians develop knowledge, conceptialise scientific information, and record it in their traditions that are passed on to successive generations. 

Guests will be served light refreshments after the talks from 8.00pm.

Unable to attend on-campus?

If you are unable to attend on-campus, you are able to join via webinar

Dr Jessie Christiansen, NASA Exoplanet Science Institute

dr-jessie-christiansenDr Christiansen grew up just over 20 kilometers from USQ’s Ipswich Campus at Peak Crossing, located in between Ipswich City and Queensland’s Scenic Rim. She attended St Mary’s College in the heart of Ipswich. Dr Christiansen is now based at NASA’s California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She is an astronomer in NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute, and is one of the leading researchers working with NASA’s successful Kepler Space Observatory. To date, she has published 85 papers, which have been cited more than 6,000 times, giving her a SCOPUS H index of 38. Due to her involvement with the Kepler mission, she has been directly involved in the discovery of more than two-thirds of the 3,550 confirmed exoplanets detections to date.

Read more about Dr Christiansen's work.

Dr Duane Hamacher, Monash University Indigenous Studies Centre


Dr Hamacher is a Senior ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow; his research focus is Indigenous Astronomy. In 2013, Dr Hamacher was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, for a project entitled “Exploring Astronomical Knowledge and Traditions in the Torres Strait”. That grant provided a total of $352,000 for the period mid-2014 – mid-2017, inclusive, and enabled Dr Hamacher to visit with the Indigenous people of the Torres Strait and learn about their astronomical beliefs and traditions.

Read more about Dr Hamacher's work.