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The Pleiades Experience: How the Fuzzy Star Cluster Continues to Chart My Astronomy Career

Isabel Hawkins

I was born and grew up in Córdoba, Argentina, as part of a big family that would gather often to share food and laughter. We’d spend several months on a ranch where we had neither running water nor electricity. The remote setting offered dark skies full of stars, and I loved seeing the Milky Way, the
Magellanic Clouds, and the distinct Pleiades star cluster. On my tenth birthday, my father took me to “El Planetario” in Buenos Aires. The beauty of the night sky and that planetarium visit charted the course of my career. At age sixteen, I came to California as an American Field Service exchange student and the goal of studying astronomy. I have a B.S. in Physics from UC Riverside, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of California, Los Angeles. I have had a hybrid career - twenty years at UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory working on NASA satellites and twelve years as Senior Scientist at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, my current position. My doctoral dissertation measured the Carbon abundance in the molecular clouds in the interstellar medium, particularly in the Pleiades star cluster. Since then, my work at the Exploratorium has focused on Cultural Astronomy, and my passion is to offer learning opportunities that help people rekindle their relationship with the stars. Last year, I completed a six-month Fulbright US-Global Scholar fellowship on cross-cultural research about the Pleiades star cluster with Indigenous communities in New Zealand, Guatemala, and Peru. The Pleiades continue to guide my path through life, and I hope to inspire you to follow their path across the sky and shift your gaze upward! Because it’s your Universe too.

Speaker: Isabel Hawkins, ExplOratorium

Monday, 02/06/23

Contact:

Website: Click to Visit

Cost:

Free

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Sonoma State University - What Physicists Do

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