Atmospheric Optical Phenomena Explained at Museum on January 16

How does the sky produce rainbows, halos, auroras and other beautiful optical displays, and what can we learn from them?  Dr. Joseph Shaw, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of the Optical Technology Center at Montana State University, will explain such sky phenomena and their relation to wide-ranging fields of study in the first presentation of the 2019 winter/spring Science Inquiry Series.

The talk will be presented at the Museum of the Rockies at 600 W Kagy Blvd in Bozeman, Montana on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the museum’s Hager Auditorium.

The series, sponsored by the Gallatin Valley Friends of the Sciences, explores cutting edge science topics, their latest developments, and their relevance to society through speaker presentations followed by conversations between speaker and audience.  The talks are free to the public.

In his presentation, entitled “Colors in the Sky: The Science of Atmospheric Optical Phenomena,” Shaw will discuss the science behind optical sky phenomena and how these natural displays relate to ongoing research in optical remote sensing to answer questions in fields ranging from climate science to national defense.

Aurora Borealis
Image copyrighted by Joseph Shaw and used with permission.

Dr. Shaw holds a Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona, and runs the Optical Technology Center at MSU.  He develops optical remote sensing instruments for applications ranging from laser detection of fish from airplanes to measuring clouds for climate science, and is author of the 2017 book, “Optics in the Air,” featuring optical phenomena that can be seen in nature.

Shaw, a fellow of the Optical Society of America and the International Society for Optics and Photonics, is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the Vaisala Award from the World Meteorological Organization, and the 2019 Stokes Award from SPIE—The International Society for Optical Engineering.

The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for audience members to engage in conversation with Shaw in the museum lobby with light refreshments served.

The speaker presentation and audience participation segments together will last approximately an hour.

NOTE: To review the full 2019 Winter/Spring lineup of talks, click on “Upcoming Presentations.”

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