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Lectures for the Public by Renowned Scientists

CIERA Annual Public Lectures

Lectures for the Public by Renowned Scientists

Photo Credits: Kennedy Space Center, CIERA, MIT News

CIERA’s Annual Public Lecture series brings campus and the Chicagoland community together to hear a prominent astronomer speak on a fascinating, timely topic.

Past speakers have included Nobel laureates: Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne; astronomer, author, and science communicator: Phill Plait; along with others of utmost renown.

These lectures are aimed at audiences of all ages interested in astronomy. They are free and open to all. Events are typically held on weeknight evenings.

Many of our Annual Public Lectures have been made possible with support from
The Alumnae of Northwestern University

Alumnae of Northwestern logo

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CIERA Fifteenth Annual Public Lecture

“The Day We Found the Universe: A Centenary Celebration” 

Marcia Bartusiak

Thursday, October 5th, 2023 @ 5:30pm
Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium

For those unable to make it to Evanston, the lecture will be livestreamed on CIERA’s YouTube channel: 

(backup livestream link via Panopto)

CIERA Fourteenth Annual Public Lecture

“Cassini to Saturn:  The Journey and the Legacy” 

Dr. Carolyn Porco

Thursday, October 6th, 2022 @ 5:30pm
Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium

CIERA Thirteenth Annual Public Lecture

“Strange New Worlds: Is Earth Special?”

Dr. Phil Plait
The Bad Astronomer

Thursday, October 14th, 2021 @ 5:30pm
Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium

CIERA Twelfth Annual Public Lecture

“A Storm of Stars: A Living History of the Milky Way”

Dr. Shane Larson
Research Associate Professor, Associate Director of CIERA

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 @ 7:00pm

Photo credit: Michael Marsland

CIERA Eleventh Annual Public Lecture

“Cartography of the Cosmos: Mapping the Unseen”

Dr. Priyamvada Natarajan
Professor of Astronomy & Physics, Yale University

Thursday, October 24th, 2019 @ 5:30pm
Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium

Photo Credit: Eileen Molony

CIERA Tenth Annual Public Lecture

“The NU Astronomy of Stars, Black Holes, and Cosmic Explosions”

Dr. Vicky Kalogera
Daniel I. Linzer Distinguished University Professor of 
Physics and Astronomy, Northwestern University
Director, CIERA

Thursday, October 11th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium

Photo Credit: TED

CIERA Ninth Annual Public Lecture

“The Unexpected Universe: Astronomical Telescopes Continue to Reveal New Surprises”

Dr. Wendy Freedman
John & Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Chicago
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

Thursday, October 5th, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Northwestern’s Cahn Auditorium

Photo Credit: Ken Richardson

CIERA Eighth Annual Public Lecture

“Beginning the Exploration of the Universe with Gravitational Waves”

Dr. Rainer Weiss
Professor of Physics, Emeritus 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on behalf of the
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 @ 6:00pm
Northwestern’s Technological Institute, Room LR3

Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIERA Seventh Annual Public Lecture

“New Horizons and the Exploration of the Pluto System”

Dr. Alan Stern
Associate Vice President and Special Assistant to the President at the Southwest Research Institute
Leader of NASA New Horizons Mission

Thursday, November 5th, 2015 @ 5:00pm
Northwestern’s Technological Institute, Ryan Family Auditorium

Photo Credit: CIERA

CIERA Sixth Annual Public Lecture

“This Just In: Latest Discoveries in the Universe”

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist and Frederick P. Rose Director
Hayden Planetarium
American Museum of Natural History

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 @ 8:00 pm
Northwestern’s Technological Institute, Ryan Family Auditorium

Special thanks to all of the sponsors who contributed funds to make this talk possible: 
Northwestern University’s Society of Physics Students, Contemporary Thought Speaker Series, Space Technology and Rocketry Society,  Norris Special EventsOffice of the President, Weinberg Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Alumnae of Northwestern University, and RSG Research Communication.

Photo Credit: MIT News

CIERA Fifth Annual Public Lecture

“Old Moon, New Moon”

Dr. Maria Zuber
E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics
Vice President for Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 @ 4:00pm
Northwestern’s Technological Institute, Ryan Family Auditorium

Photo Credit: Kennedy Space Center

CIERA Fourth Annual Public Lecture


Dr. John M. Grunsfeld
Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, NASA

Thursday, February 19th, 2013 @ 4:00pm
Northwestern’s Technological Institute, Ryan Family Auditorium

Photo Credit: HubbleSite

CIERA Third Annual Public Lecture

“Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe: Einstein’s Blunder Undone”

Dr. Robert Kirshner
Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 @ 4:00pm
Northwestern’s Technological Institute, Ryan Family Auditorium

Photo Credit: Jon Rou

CIERA Second Annual Public Lecture

“The Warped Side of our Universe: From the Big Bang to Black Holes and Gravitational Waves”

Dr. Kip S. Thorne
Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology

Monday, October 18th, 2010 @ 4:00pm
Northwestern’s Fisk Hall


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