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Image Your Own Erupting Star

Live Chat May 3rd, 2022

What happened to make the star Eta Carinae become the second brightest star in the sky in 1843? Why did it then dim over the next century and once again brighten? How can YOU take images of this star and its surrounding clouds using NASA’s robotic telescopes or create your own images using NASA data? Join us to hear the fascinating story of Eta Carina and how NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges gives you the opportunity to make a picture of this star and its surroundings.

Biographies of Show Participants


A Los Angeles native, Phil is an alumnus of Yale University and The Groundlings Theater and perhaps is best known as one of the original cast members of MAD TV, as “Hermes” on FUTURAMA,  as "Marvin" in PULP FICTION, “Green Lantern” on JUSTICE LEAGUE and as the voice of SAMURAI JACK. For over 30 years Phil has thrilled audiences with his work on camera and behind the microphone on TV shows such as STATIC SHOCK, FAMILY GUY, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, the CW’s THE FLASH & SUPERGIRL, GET SHORTY, LUCIFER and VEEP; feature films like MADAGASCAR 2, INCREDIBLES 2, and THE LION KING (2019) and video games including FORTNITE, SHADOW OF MORDOR, and the INJUSTICE, METAL GEAR SOLID, and the MORTAL KOMBAT series.

RUTUPARNA DAS (Astronomer)

Rutuparna Das is an astrophysicist and science communicator who spends her time learning about the universe and sharing its wonders with everyone around her.  After going to undergrad at MIT, she completed her PhD at the University of Michigan, where she worked on weighing clusters of galaxies and figuring out what the cosmos is made of.  She’s now at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, spreading the joys of space through NASA’s Universe of Learning, and continuing her research into the composition of the universe.  When she’s not staring at the sky, she enjoys reading, crafting crazy desserts, taking an inordinate number of nature photos, and writing (sometimes silly) poetry about the cosmos.

NATHAN SMITH (Astronomer)

Nathan Smith conducts observations using the Hubble Space Telescope and other NASA missions, plus numerous ground-based optical/infrared telescopes. Although primarily an observer, he incorporates theoretical tools in his work, and has a broad interest in Galactic astronomy including stellar evolution, mass loss, circumstellar material, shock physics, HII regions, disks, jets, planetary nebulae, dust formation, and nebular spectroscopy. Nathan earned undergraduate degrees in music and astronomy, plus a master's degree and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics.