Goodman captures close encounter with asteroid

On November 8, 2011, an asteroid named 2005 YU55 made a close fly-by of the Earth. Its track brought it inside the Moon’s orbit–the closest approach by an asteroid we’ve ever known about in advance.

Using Wheaton’s Observatory, Assistant Professor of Physics Jason Goodman tracked and imaged the asteroid… and created this video of it moving through the sky.

Chris Linder to speak

Science on Ice

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Chris Linder, science photographer
Hindle Auditorium, Science Center

Join science photographer Chris Linder as he explores how modern scientists survive and thrive in the polar regions, from Antarctic penguin colonies to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

“Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised,” wrote Apsley Cherry-Garrard of his time with the 1910 Scott expedition to the South Pole. And that’s how most of us still imagine polar expeditions: stolid men with ice riming their beards risking death for scientific knowledge. But polar science has evolved over the past century.

Using images from his book Science on Ice, photographer Chris Linder will explore how modern scientists survive and thrive in the polar regions, from Antarctic penguin colonies to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

About Chris Linder

Chris Linder uses photography to educate and inspire the public about science.  He works closely with researchers in the field, documenting them as they study the environment—whether it’s from the deck of a ship, penguin colony, or tropical jungle.

His education and training as an oceanographer give him a special insight into photographing science. Since 2002, he has photographed over two dozen research expeditions, including 14 to the polar regions. His photographs have been featured in museum exhibits, including the Field Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and in books, calendars, and magazines worldwide. He is the author of Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions (University of Chicago Press, 2011) and The Photographer’s Guide to Cape Cod: Where to Find the Perfect Shots and How to Take Them (Countryman Press, 2007).


Gorgeous greenhouses built for learning

Jane Young, Greenhouse Caretaker, is thrilled about the gorgeous new Greenhouses atop the Mars Center for Science and Technology. She shared some highlights with us:

  • a Temperate Room has joined the existing Desert and Rainforest environments;
  • growth chambers and a 407 sq. ft. Research House with automatic shade curtains support student work;
  • advanced control panels monitor cooling, heating, HPS lights, shade, ventilation and humidity;
  • an alarm system alerts Public Safety to power outages or temperature extremes; and
  • a rooftop weather station automatically closes vents in case of wind and rain.

Why not stop by and admire this amazing facility for yourself? Jane welcomes visitors during her Greenhouse Open Clinics.


The Mars Center for Science and Technology opened with the official dedication ceremony on September 23. Through the coming year we’ll be celebrating and exploring the new building as students and faculty are settling in and “Mars Science” is finding its place on campus.

As always, for the full story on science visit The Sciences at Wheaton, where you’ll find news about students, faculty and alumnae/i, and information on science departments, programs and courses.

Official Dedication Invitation

Please join me and Wheaton’s Board of Trustees at 3 p.m. on Friday, September 23 for the official dedication of the new Mars Center for Science and Technology. The ceremony will include remarks from trustees and faculty, a special musical piece created for the occasion by Assistant Professor of Music Delvyn Case and Professor of English Sue Standing, and a unique ribbon-cutting. Please come celebrate with us!

The ceremony will be followed by tours of this amazing, LEED-certified building, the largest construction project ever undertaken by the college. Even if you have already seen the inside of the building, you will find the tour interesting. I look forward to seeing you there.

Best wishes,

Courtyard boulders reveal meaning

Geoff Collins, Associate Professor of Geology, told us about the boulders that are placed around the courtyard.

The architect’s plan for the courtyard included several massive boulders, and I saw this as a fabulous opportunity to put in something meaningful rather than some random rocks.

Matt Evans and I took several trips last year to identify potential rocks to go into the courtyard, and then we negotiated with the landscape architect and the landscape contractors to arrive at a final plan. About half of the rocks came from Betsey Dyer’s family farm a few miles away. The most exciting part was when I helped to supervise the crane lowering in the giant boulders!

The boulders in the courtyard are all local rocks from southeastern Massachusetts, and are designed to reproduce on a small scale some of the important geological structures underlying Wheaton College.

Students who are confused about the relationships among rocks observed many miles apart on field trips can refresh their memory with this representation where the “outcrops” are just a few steps away from each other. Careful observation and mapping of these rocks by an advanced student will reveal a new layer of meaning, hidden in plain sight.

Professor Collins took many photographs of the courtyard boulders as they were deposited with tremendous precision and care. Here is their story as told through his camera’s lens.

Neil deGrasse Tyson to speak

The Cosmic Perspective
Friday, September 23, 2011
7:30-9 p.m.

Enjoy an informative and entertaining lecture by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, and host of PBS’s NOVAscienceNOW. His radio show, StarTalk Radio, airs every Sunday.

Dr. Tyson is a frequent guest on many popular television shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart where he has discussed traveling to Mars, longevity, and the process of discovery.