March 22, 2017

RMSS Speaker Profiles


DR. JOHN SPENCER – John Spencer is an Institute Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder. He grew up in England, obtaining a BA in Geology from the University of Cambridge in 1978, and a PhD in Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona in 1987. He then worked at the University of Hawaii and Lowell Observatory in Arizona, before joining Southwest Research Institute in 2004. His primary interest is in the moons and other small bodies of the outer solar system, which he studies with ground-based telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope, and interplanetary spacecraft. He serves on the science teams of the the Cassini Saturn Orbiter, the Europa Clipper mission, the new Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids, and is deputy project scientist the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. He was also a science team member on the Galileo Jupiter Orbiter. In 2016 he received the Whipple Award from the American Geophysical Union, for outstanding contributions to planetary science. “Cassini Mission”.
ROGER KENNEDY – Currently the director of the New Mexico Chapter of the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project. Have presented over 700 outreach programs throughout the USA during the past 6 years, while engaging over 100,000 visitors. A scientific career that spans a 55 year time period; from remote sensing activities with the Navy in the later stages of the Corona Project, academic work at the high school and college level, public interpretation of data from NASA’s Mar Exploration Rover Mission and the Solar Dynamic Observatory, to museum exhibit construction. Advanced graduate training/degrees in Earth & Space Science, Science Education and Supervision, and Spectroscopy from New Mexico Tech., Temple, Bowling Green State, and West Chester Universities among others.
BOB MORROW - Ever since he was given a Tasco refractor (234 power!) in the early 1960’s, Bob Morrow has been interested in astronomy. He was a familiar sight at the Griffith Observatory, north of Los Angeles, where he spent countless hours at the museum and in the planetarium. During his undergraduate work at the U. S. Air Force Academy, his ambitious project in astronomy class was to photograph all the Messier objects through the school’s 10-inch Celestron SCT. He gave up after hours of collecting photons from the ring and crab nebulae onto GAF 500 film. They were barely visible. Bob finally acquired his own C11 and discovered that the views of the skies in rural Indiana were fantastic…when the telescope was collimated. Unfortunately, that wasn’t often, and recollimating was a real challenge using the factory screws. Eventually, Bob realized that the factory screws could be replaced with knobs, and Bob’s Knobs was born. Now collimation could be done while looking through the eyepiece and without threatening the corrector plate with a pointed tool. After sending another set to an internet forum member, requests for knobs began arriving in droves. Bob got busy designing knobs for other telescope makes and models, creating a web site, and learning about packaging and shipping. Bob’s Knobs are now available for collimating over 100 different telescope models, and for various mounts so they can be assembled without tools.
DR. DAVID STRONG - David Strong grew up in Oklahoma and received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Oklahoma State University where he was commissioned into the Air Force. He worked several aircraft avionics systems, including the KC-135, C-130, F-22, and F-35, up until 2004. In 2007, he received a PhD in Electro-Optics from the Air Force Institute of Technology where he specialized in removing atmospheric turbulence blurring of telescope images through post processing. After graduation, he was assigned to the Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing (AMOS) site where he was the director for imaging research. Starting in 2010, he taught in the Physics Department at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), where he retired from active duty in 2014. Since then, he has been an independent researcher with the Center for Space Situational Awareness Research (CSSAR) at USAFA. In addition, he works for Harris Corporation in the sustainment of Air Force optical systems. Currently, he is the Chief Systems Engineer for the Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) for Harris. For more information go to:
ERICK WHITE - Erick White is a 7th grade student in the Gifted Magnet Program at Sabin Middle School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has been the youngest active member of the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society since 2013. He loves everything space, has since he was four, and is working toward being an astronaut. He enjoys chemistry, math, and reading, has maintained a 4.0 GPA for the past two years, and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. He currently operates an Orion SkyQuest XT10i IntelliScope as well as a Celestron C4.5 Newtonian reflector. At RMSS 2014, Erick presented “Nebulae”; this year he will be presenting, “Using Spectroscopy to Detect Methane Levels in the Atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune.”


DR. JOHN SPENCER – Institute Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, “New Horizons – Pluto Encounter”.

DR. PAMELA GAY – Nationally known Astronomy writer and podcaster, Dr. Gay is an assistant research professor in the STEM center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and the Project Director for CosmoQuest. “Collecting Photons with Purpose: Using Telescopes for Science and for Education”.


DR. FRAN BAGENAL – Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder. “The Arrival of New Horizons at Pluto”.

TOM FIELD – Contributing Editor, Sky and Telescope Magazine. “Spectroscopy for the Amateur Astronomer”.


FRAN BAGENAL – Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder. “Juno – Revealing Jupiter Inteior” and “New Horizons Mission to Pluto”.

ROBERT NAEYE – Editor in Chief, Sky and Telescope Magazine “Amateur Exoplanet Achievements”.


MICHAEL BICAY – Director of Science, NASA Ames Research Center. “The Future of Mars Research” and “The Search for New Earths”.

MIKE SIMONSEN – Membership Director and Development Officer, American Association of Variable Star Observers. “Variable Stars, the AAVSO and You” and “Astronomy: Hobby or Addiction?”