6th Annual Robert Grosseteste Lecture in Astrophysics

Between Fire and Ice

a public lecture by

Professor Don Kurtz

Visiting Professor, School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Lincoln, UK

Thursday, 30 March 2023,

6:00-7:40 pm

(including an interval and Q&A)
Newton Lecture Theatre  INB0114 in the Isaac Newton building, University of Lincoln

Book a place

Our fragile Earth is delicately balanced between the fiery nuclear inferno at the heart of the Sun and the icy frigidity of the outer solar system. Come on an illustrated tour to see weird and wonderful moons, a continent-sized canyon, gigantic volcanoes, a hurricane bigger than Earth, a pure ice cliff higher than Mt. Everest, a place so cold that the air freezes and falls to the ground as snow, and spectacular pictures of alien environments. Hear about asteroid impacts and the death of the dinosaurs. Learn about the origin and evolution of Earth’s atmosphere, the runaway greenhouse effect on Venus and the ultimate heat death of our own beautiful blue planet, Earth. (But don’t panic – we still have a few billion years.)

Don Kurtz was born in San Diego, California, to an American father and Canadian mother. He obtained a BA in astronomy from San Diego State University in 1970, and his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship for one year at the University of Cape Town (UCT) starting in February 1977. That one year stretched to 24 years, by which time he was a Professor of Astronomy and Life Fellow of UCT. After a short spell at the Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées in Toulouse, France, in 2000, Don moved to the UK, where he was Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), UK, from 2001 until 2020; he is now Emeritus Professor at UCLan. Don was appointed Extraordinary Professor at North-West University (NWU) from 2020 and was awarded an A1 rating by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2021. He currently has a three-year appointment as Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln, UK. Don has dual British and American citizenship and divides his professional time between South Africa and the UK.

Don is a past councillor and Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society and has served on many international committees. He is frequently invited to speak internationally to both professional astronomers and to the public, typically presenting several dozen talks per year to diverse audiences all over the world on a wide range of topics. He is committed to astronomy in Africa, where he has lectured and done research in South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Uganda and Ethiopia. Don has observed with some of the largest telescopes in the world, has over 2000 nights at the telescope, and 500 professional publications. He primarily works now with data from the Kepler and TESS Space Telescopes. He is the discoverer of a class of pulsating, magnetic stars that are the most peculiar stars known. He is also co-author of the 866-page fundamental textbook, “Asteroseismology”, and his primary research interests are in diverse applications of asteroseismology.

Don is a recipient of the Royal Astronomical Society’s 2022 Service Award.

Don is an outdoorsman and has travelled and adventured widely. In addition to his lectures to schools, clubs, summer schools, societies, he regularly lectures at game reserves, on private trains, cruise ships and on outdoor adventure trips.

Don is married to June Kurtz (née Heffer) of Grahamstown (now Makhanda), South Africa. They divide their time between South Africa and the UK, residing most of the year in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape.

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