The Grand Canyon offers one of the most pristine night skies in the United States. This spring, astronomy professor Jennifer Hoffman will have the opportunity to conduct research and share her discipline as the Astronomer in Residence at Grand Canyon National Park.
During the six-week residency, Hoffman will live and work at the historic Verkamp’s artist residence at the canyon’s South Rim. In her research, Hoffman creates 3D computational simulations of massive binary stars and supernovae. During her residency, she will work on “animating” the simulations, making them move in time instead of producing a static picture. In addition, she will interact with park visitors through activities and presentations.
Hoffman believes that science is for everyone. She plans to share her experience with the DU community through a video diary providing glimpses of life on the South Rim.
“I think the sky is an underappreciated natural resource. Most people don’t pay much attention to it except when they happen to notice the moon or when something big happens like a solar eclipse. But the sky is always there and always changing,” Hoffman says.
“My research focuses on short-term changes in faraway astrophysical objects like supernovae, but the movements of the sun, moon, stars and planets are easy for a casual observer to detect,” she adds. “Becoming more aware of these motions can help us be more in touch with our surroundings, feel connected with the ancient people who first tracked changes in the sky and see ourselves as part of our cosmic neighborhood.”
Hoffman is the Womble Chair of Astronomy in DU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. She also directs DU’s historic Chamberlin Observatory.