At present we are still largely confined to life on planet Earth. But what happens when humanity’s curiosity and inventiveness inevitably leads us to inhabit places beyond the bounds of our home planet?
Dr. Chris Impey will share his vision of humanity’s future in space at his Chautauqua lecture on Thursday, Feb. 4, at Eastern Kentucky University. A University Distinguished professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona and a prolific author, he will present “What If We Live Off-Earth? Exploring Our Future in Space” at 7:30 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall of the Whitlock Building. His talk is free and open to the public.
In addition, Impey will be the guest of an Eastern Standard program on WEKU-FM. The live taping will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 3, from 10 to 11 a.m. in EKU’s Hummel Planetarium, following a program at the facility. Admission to the taping is free; audience members must be in their seats by 9:45 a.m. (For more information, call 800-622-1757 or visit weku.fm/programs/eastern-standard-weku.
Impey’s research interests include observational cosmology, gravitational lensing and the evolution and structure of galaxies. His work has been supported by more than $20 million in grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation. Twenty-four of his projects have been given time on astronomy’s premier research facility, the Hubble Space Telescope.
Impey has written many books, including “Beyond: Our Future in Space,” published in 2015, “Humble Before the Void,” published in 2014, and “Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration,” published in 2013.
“Beyond” was praised by The New York Times Sunday Book Review as “an expansive and enlightening overview of space travel’s past, present and possible future.” The Chicago Tribune wrote that the book “invites readers to renew their sense of wonder” and that “Impey takes the reader along on a journey to the limits of humanity’s wildest dreams, and beyond.”
Impey’s previous book, “Humble Before the Void: A Western Astronomer, His Journey East, and a Remarkable Encounter Between Western Science and Tibetan Buddhism,” features a foreword by the Dalai Lama. The book tells the story of how Impey, in his role as astronomy faculty leader for the Science for Monks program, traveled to Tibet with his son to teach cosmology to Tibetan monks.
Impey has won numerous teaching awards, pioneered curriculum development in astrobiology and was principal investigator on a four-year grant from the Templeton Foundation to explore issues at the interface of science and religion. He is the creator of the Teach Astronomy website, which supports non-science majors, and has taught parts of his classes in the virtual world Second Life.
Impey has published 170 scientific papers and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2014, he was appointed as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor with an award of $1 million for improving undergraduate education. He has also served as vice president of the American Astronomical Society.
His lecture is sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the College of Education and EKU Honors.