UTD Physics Department to Host Monthly
Meetings of Texas Astronomical Society

New Partnership Should Benefit Students, Members of Public

RICHARDSON, Texas (Dec. 12, 2005) – The Texas Astronomical Society (TAS) of Dallas, one of the premier amateur astronomy organizations in the country, will begin holding its monthly meetings on the campus of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) starting in January.  The new cooperative arrangement between the two organizations should prove beneficial to students and members of the public, according to a UTD professor involved in bringing the group to the school.

“We believe this partnership will provide tangible benefits to UTD students with an interest, professional or otherwise, in astronomy, as well as to Dallas-area high school students and members of the general public who become involved in joint astronomy-related outreach programs envisioned by the university and TAS,” said Dr. Joe Izen, a professor in UTD’s physics department, which will host the monthly meetings.  “We look forward to working with TAS, and are excited to be able to welcome many of the society’s nearly 600 members to campus each month.” 

“The partnership with UTD offers TAS many new opportunities,” said TAS President Dave Hutchison.  “For one, we will gain access to an excellent meeting facility.  UTD is a highly regarded university.  Working with the physics department on programs for the community will allow us to broaden the scope of our outreach programs and will benefit both parties.”

Initially, according to Izen, UTD will host the organization’s membership meetings, normally held on the fourth Friday of every month, with the first scheduled for Jan. 27.  Eventually, the two organizations also would like to offer “star parties” on campus, where members of the public can view planets, stars and other celestial objects through telescopes, Izen said.  TAS meetings had been held at Richland College.

The physics department’s involvement with TAS makes perfect sense, Izen said, because physics is the typical major of future astronomers at UTD.  In addition, members of the physics faculty teach astronomy courses at the university.

Izen said he expects a number of students, faculty and staff to become members of TAS as a result of the new relationship.  With membership comes observing privileges at TAS’ “dark site,” located in a rural area far from the light and smog pollution found near major cities that typically hamper star gazing.  Such an opportunity should prove appealing to students working on astronomy projects and faculty members wishing to schedule small-class observing sessions, he said.

TAS meetings, which begin at 7:30 p.m., will be held in the UTD Conference Center, Room CN1.112.  Visitors are welcome at the meetings.

TAS was chartered in 1955 to promote the study of astronomy and related fields and to pursue observation and construction of instruments as a hobby.  Membership is open to anyone having an interest in astronomy and related subjects.  Additional information about TAS may be found on the organization’s website, www.texasastro.org.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls nearly 14,500 students.  The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores.  The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.  For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.