CPC Astronomers' Meeting

39th Annual Central Pennsylvania Consortium Astronomers’ Meeting

Saturday, April 27, 2019 | 8:15 am – 4:15 pm
Gettysburg College | Masters Hall
300 N. Washington Street, Gettysburg PA 17325


Gettysburg College will host the 39th Annual Central Pennsylvania Consortium Astronomers’ Meeting on Saturday, April 27 2019.

The conference will be held in Masters Hall (#17 on the campus map)

We encourage both faculty and students to consider presenting a talk or poster in astronomy, astrophysics and astronomy education. We have been able to allocate 10-15 minutes for each presentation, depending on the number of people who would like to present. We wish to remind everyone that this is a “student friendly” conference. A tentative meeting agenda is provided below.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Jacquelynne Milingo, Dr. Ryan Johnson, or by calling 717-337-6020.


Registration is now closed. There is no registration fee and all students, postdocs and faculty are welcome to attend.

The deadline is Friday April 12, 2019.

Schedule of Events

Keynote speaker will be Dr. Patricia Boyd, Chief of the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Project Scientist for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Mission

Talk Title: A Future Full of Planets—Discovering and Characterizing Worlds Beyond Our Solar System (flyer)

Speaker: Dr. Patricia Boyd, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Abstract: Over the last decade, the rate of discovery of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system has burst from a trickle to a flood, transforming our understanding of our place in the Universe. Thanks to NASA's Kepler exoplanet-hunting space telescope and other missions, we now know that our Milky Way galaxy is teeming with tens of billions of extrasolar planets. These exoplanets come in a remarkable variety of shapes and sizes, from smaller than Earth to larger than Jupiter, and include some Earth-size planets that orbit their stars at a distance where liquid water could exist on their surfaces. NASA’s newly launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) continues on this journey of exoplanet discovery. TESS has begun a 2-year nearly all-sky survey to discover exoplanets orbiting bright nearby stars for further study, and has already announced exciting early results. But the ultimate goal of imaging an Earth-size planet around another star, and developing a comprehensive understanding of its surface properties and atmospheric characteristics, remains elusive and challenging. To usher in the era of comparative planetology, astronomers look forward to the launch of the powerful infrared James Webb Space Telescope, while designing and developing the next generation of great observatories. This presentation will review our current state of knowledge of the diversity of exoplanetary systems and the technical challenges of direct imaging and atmospheric characterization. The process needed to take the next steps to directly image exoplanets and to search for water, ozone, oxygen and other potential markers of habitability will be presented. The present landscape of rapid discovery and technology development will be used as a springboard for envisioning our potential advancement in understanding exoplanets into the next decades.

Bio: Dr. Patricia “Padi” Boyd is the Hubble Space Telescope deputy operations project scientist for operations at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She is also currently serving as the Chief of the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory in the Astrophysics Science Division, and the director of the Guest Investigator Program for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Mission (launch date no earlier than March 20, 2018). She has been at Goddard since 1993, when she was a visiting scientist on the instrument team for the High Speed Photometer, a first generation instrument aboard Hubble, studying the optical and ultraviolet polarization seen in X-ray binaries, pulsars and active galaxies.

In 1995, Boyd joined the Monitoring X-ray Experiment team, an X-ray all-sky monitor that was in development and testing as part of the Russian-led Spectrum X-Gamma mission. In 1997, she joined the Rossi X-ray Timing Experiment Guest Observer Facility performing science support for that mission. From 2003 to 2008, she managed that facility, as well as the Swift Science Center.

When an opportunity opened to gain a different perspective on science and missions, Boyd accepted a two-year detail at NASA Headquarters in Washington as the program scientist for the Kepler mission, where she was the NASA point of contact for the U.S. Guest Observer program and also served as a discipline scientist for X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy. In addition to these responsibilities, Boyd served as the program officer for NASA’s exoplanets program.

Throughout her career, NASA has recognized Boyd’s work with three group achievement awards, an education and outreach award and a peer award.

Born in Metuchen, New Jersey, Boyd’s interests growing up were much more focused on the arts, and she was active in dance, gymnastics and theater before discovering her passion for astrophysics in her senior year of high school. She earned her Bachelor of Science in astronomy and physics from Villanova University and her Master of Science and Ph.D. in physics and atmospheric science from Drexel University. Her research interests are focused on the flux and long-term variability in X-ray binaries and on the dynamics of accretion disks.

Boyd lives in Greenbelt, Maryland, with her husband and two sons, where they all actively participate in music. Boyd sings with an a cappella ensemble called the Chromatics that composes original songs about the universe with educational twists — a project called AstroCappella. They have performed at many science-related venues, such as the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and a copy of their CD was flown on a space shuttle.