Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Science Under the Dome


Join us Thursday, September 10th, 2015 at 7:00pm for

Telescopes, Antarctica, and the North Pole

presented by Jerry Dunifer, Professor Emeritus 

Department of Physics & Astronomy, Wayne State 

University, Detroit, MI 


In this talk I’ll summarize several interesting trips I have taken during the past couple years.  This will include several visits to major astronomical observatories, a visit to the Antarctic Peninsula, and a visit to the geographic North Pole.  Among the observatories, I’ll describe a visit to Apache Point Observatory, where we witnessed astronomers bouncing laser pulses from mirrors placed on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts.  Using this technique, astronomers are now able to measure the distance to the Moon to an accuracy of 1 millimeter, the thickness of a paperclip!  In Antarctica we visited two scientific research stations--Vernadsky Research Base, an Ukranian station, and Palmer Station, a United States station supported by the National Science Foundation.  I’ll describe some of the projects carried out at these two sites.  The geographic North Pole was reached by traveling on the nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker, “Fifty Years of Victory”, the largest and most powerful icebreaker in the World.  The trip involved traversing 700 miles through the arctic icecap (up to 3 meters in thickness) to reach the Pole.  The return trip included stopping on three islands of Franz Josef Land, an uninhabited archipelago located at about 80 degrees north latitude.    My talk will be illustrated by a number of photos taken at the different sites.


The Wayne State Planetarium is dedicated to the promotion of science. We are proud to feature a series of free public lectures covering modern topics in science.