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Phil Plait Presents 12th Annual CIERA Public Lecture

On October 14, Phil Plait, astronomer and best-selling author, presented a public lecture titled Strange New Worlds: Is Earth Special?

Phil Plait at CIERA

Prior to the lecture, Plait spent some time visiting with CIERA researchers to discuss astronomy and communicating science to the public.

This was CIERA’s first ever hybrid Public Lecture, held live in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern’s Evanston campus and streamed live via Zoom and YouTube. More that 250 viewers enjoyed the event.

Plait discussed the explosion in exoplanet detections since the 1990s (over four thousand so far!). These planets orbit a wide variety of stars, and themselves are all wildly different; huge, small, hot, cold, airless, or with thick atmospheres.

Phil Plait speaking

The lecture explored how astronomers find these planets, how our own compares to them, and how we are coming closer to answering the Big

Questions: Is there another Earth out there? And if so, will it support life? Is Earth unique, or is the galaxy filled with blue-green worlds that look achingly like our own?

The event was concluded with a lively Q&A session, where Plait took questions from both the live and remote audiences.


Learn more about the Exoplanets in CIERA’s Pathfinder Brochure library.