60+ attend lecture and demonstration on cosmic rays

April 17, 2023 |

Friday night brought clouds, hail, and snow to campus --- typically anathema to observational astronomers --- but the Earth Week Andreas Observatory open house wen off without a hitch regardless.  This year the event took place entirely indoors, though students were still able to observe particles that began their lives 10s of thousands of light years away from the Earth.

At this year's event, Assistant Professor Michael Rutkowski in Physics and Astronomy introduced students to a class of exotic particles called cosmic rays. These particles are accelerated to high rates of speed --- sometimes >99% the speed of light --- and occasionally they'll impact the Earth's atmosphere to produce a spray of new particles. With common household equipment and supplies, Professor Rutkowski built a cosmic ray particle detector.  In the image below, students observe particles at Andrea with this home-made detector. a group of people looking at a lit object