SDAA Monthly Programs

Come hang out with us every month and learn something new! SDAA programs feature a wide array of speakers who share their expertise on unique and intriguing astronomy-related topics. We hold most of our meetings virtually via Zoom on the third Wednesday of every month. The meetings start at 7PM and last about one hour. We meet in-person for the March and November meetings at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center. Programs start with a few key club announcements and include information tailored to our new club members. Our featured speaker follows as the main event. Try your luck at winning SDAA club stickers with the fun astronomy quiz that closes out every meeting. Attendees are encouraged to engage and ask questions after speaker presentations. If you miss a program, you can catch the recordings on the SDAA YouTube page.

Please register in advance for the Zoom meetings at the following link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

To attend the March and November in-person meetings, head to the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center at One Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119. The main gates into the park remain open for our evening meetings, however the Visitor Center doors are not unlocked until 6:30PM. Please drive through the gates and park in either of the two dirt parking lots adjacent to the Visitor Center Building. Once inside the building, head to the Auditorium. Park Rangers can be reached at 619-668-3281 and for more information visit

The SDAA Board welcomes your comments on our presentations! Please contact if you have suggestions for future program topics.

February 17, 2021 Program Meeting

Speaker: Jimmy Lilly – Steward Observatory Topic: Identifying Prestellar Cores in Molecular Clouds Jimmy Lilly was a 2019-2020 Lucas Scholarship recipient and majored in Astronomy / Physics. He graduated in May 2020. He works with Yancy Shirley from the Department of Astronomy on “Characterizing Physical Properties Associated with Hierarchical Structure in Star-Forming Regions.”

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January 20, 2021 Program Meeting

Speaker: Maria Galloway-Sprietsma – Steward Observatory Topic: Pulsar Timing Maria Galloway-Sprietsma is a Lucas Scholarship recipient 2020-2021. She is working with Dr. Yancy Shirley, Steward Observatory on a study of deuterated ammonia (NH2D) in star-forming region Cepheus L1251. They hope to explore the possibilities of using deuterated ammonia as a dense gas tracer, and believe that it can tell them more about the chemical and structural evolution of…

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Dec 16, 2020 Program Meeting

Dr. Alex Ji: The First Stars Dr. Alex Ji is a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories. Alex is a near-field cosmologist, studying nearby stars and galaxies to understand the first stars and galaxies, the origin of the elements, and the history of the Milky Way. Alex’s main lockdown activity has been eating Trader Joe’s snacks.

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Ryan Rubenzahl

November 18, 2020 Program Meeting

Speaker: Ryan Rubenzahl – Caltech Topic: Measuring the Speed of Stars More Precisely Than Your Car’s Speedometer The “doppler method” of detecting planets orbiting other stars requires precise measurements of the speeds of those distant stars. If we can see a star oscillating towards and away from us, we can infer that an unseen planet is tugging on its parent star as it orbits. This method successfully found…

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October 21, 2020 Program Meeting

Speaker: Mia de Los Reyes Topic: The Loneliest Galaxies in the Universe Most of the matter in the universe is located in long and thin structures called “cosmic filaments” that stretch across the universe in web-like formations. However, some galaxies live in the much emptier spaces between cosmic filaments, called cosmic voids. By comparing the chemical makeup of void galaxies and filament galaxies, we can learn about how…

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September 16, 2020 Program Meeting

Speaker: Steve Hallmann, SDAA Topic: Dark Matter and Dark Energy Steve Hallman updates SDAA on the latest theories for dark matter and dark energy.

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August 19, 2020 Program

Speaker: Dr. Nicholas Galitzki ( UCSD)  Topic: Cosmic Microwave Background at the Simons Observatory   Dr. Nicholas Galitzki began his astronomy career at the California Institute of Technology where he earned his B.S. in astrophysics in 2008. While at Caltech he was involved in two research projects, one with a lunar seismometer developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories and another working with a weather monitoring station for the proposed…

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July 15, 2020 SDAA Program Meeting

Title: Apollo at JPL Speaker: Blaine Baggett Blaine Baggett is an award-winning television producer and published author, Baggett joined JPL from Los Angeles public television station KCET, where he was vice president of national productions and scheduling. Baggett’s science and technology documentaries for the Public Broadcasting System include “Spaceflight,” “The Astronomers,” “John Glenn, American Hero” and several “Nova” programs. His production of “The Great War and the Shaping…

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