HAS Main Speaker Presentation

October 02, 2020, 7:00PM: HAS Main Speaker Presentation

Cataclysmic Variables -- Stars that go Boom

with Walt Cooney

Dr Justin Filiberto.jpg

Cataclysmic Variables are a broad class of variables that undergo violent nuclear outbursts.  These events can quickly drive their brightness up many magnitudes.  They include the familiar novae and supernovae, but also include other varietals like dwarf novae, recurrent novae, nova-like variables, polars, intermediate polars and all kinds of variable stars that light off with little or no warning.  

Most cataclysmic variables are binary star systems where a white dwarf siphons mass from the companion.   In the presentation, we’ll discuss how these binary systems that start off as a pair of normal main sequence stars eventually go so horribly awry.  We’ll also talk about the work amateur astronomers have done for the AAVSO and for pro-am collaborations like the Center for Backyard Astrophysics that have led to significant advances in the understanding of cataclysmic variables.

Speaker Bio – Walt Cooney is a retired chemical engineer who has been an avid amateur astronomer since 4th grade when he did a report on the constellation Orion.  He was raised in Titusville, Florida where his dad was an engineer for NASA.  He has a B.S.Ch.E from the University of Florida and an M.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell.   He is the author or coauthor of 45 papers in astronomical journals, and discoverer of 64 asteroids and 59 variable stars including 3 in Columbus.   Asteroid (35365) Cooney was kindly named after Walt by Dr. Petr Pravec of the Ondrejov Observatory in the Czech Republic.

To Register for the Zoom Meeting: Since we're all practicing safe social distancing, we have decided to bring our speaker to you virtually through the Zoom online meeting platform! You must register for this presentation in order to attend. You may do so by using the link below:


Please watch your email, as you should also receive an email inviting you attend. The email will include any up to date changes (if any) on meeting times etc. You may also register using the link in the email, however it is only necessary to register once.  

We'll have the online chat feature available to us during the talk, and once the presentation is over, we can open up the audio lines for more questions.  I'm excited that this we're able to get together in this fashion, and I hope you can join us then.  We hope to see you online with us on Friday evening September 11th!

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