Dark Matter, Dark Skies, Bright Minds

Dear friend of Wonderfest,

Can ignorance be thrilling? When that ignorance is profound, and embraces more than 80% of the material universe, maybe it can!

“Dark matter” is the appropriately spooky name given to the invisible stuff that we know exists because of its gravitational tug on the visible stuff!  The nature of dark matter remains one of the great mysteries in physics and astronomy.
[DARK ALERT: Don’t confuse dark matter with “dark energy.” Dark energy is mysterious and important, too, but it is not material in nature. Although dark energy affects the universe at large, it is neither matter nor energy. (For example, Einstein’s famous E = mc2 says nothing about dark energy; it simply doesn’t apply!) Dark matter, on the other hand, is intimately involved in the mechanisms of matter — particularly on galactic scales.]
At 8:30 his Saturday evening, June 23, Wonderfest and the Mt. Tamalpais Astronomy Program are presenting The Milky Way as a Dark Matter Laboratory, with UC Berkeley astrophysicist Michael Kuhlen.
East and South Bay folks may need to travel a bit farther than usual to take part in this presentation, but the trip will surely be worthwhile. Dr. Kuhlen’s talk and slide show take place in the beautiful Mountain Theater atop Mt. Tamalpais in Marin.
Following the lecture, we’ll be treated to a laser-guided tour of the night sky by Urban Astronomer Paul Salazar. And, finally, before heading home, we can peer through the many big telescopes of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers.
Don’t miss this terrific opportunity to put stars in your eyes. Mt. Tam can be spectacular on a warm June evening. (And “temperature inversions” DO often render it warmer on top of the mountain than down below near the Bay!) Just wear layers, and bring a good flashlight along with your sense of wonder.
Warm regards and clear skies,
– Tucker Hiatt, Director
P.S.  We need  a few volunteers to help set-up the Mountain Theater. If you can take part, please meet me at 6:30 PM this Saturday at the north end of the Safeway parking lot in Mill Valley’s Strawberry Shopping Center, right along highway 101. We’ll caravan “up the hill” together, find choice parking, and do just a few light-duty chores to help make the evening wonderful for everyone. (Please email tucker@wonderfest.org if you are interested in this dark matter volunteering expedition.)