Did you know that stars make music all of their own as sound waves travel through them? According to astronomer Donald Kurtz of The University of Central Lancashire in Preston, UK, we can’t hear the sounds directly, but “astronomers can detect them through asteroseismology – looking beneath the surfaces of stars into their cores.” By artificially boosting the frequency or speed of vibration detected, we can hear the sounds as rumbling, humming or whistling noises. Each star emits a slightly different sound, depending on its age, size and chemical composition. These differences enable researchers to find out more about what is going on in a star’s interior. A regular repeating pattern indicates that the entire star is pulsating, and it was recently discovered that our entire Milky Way galaxy is oscillating as well.
There are many ways to combine our appreciation of music and the stars. Vincent van Gogh once said, “I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.” So many good things in life begin with a dream, and what better place to start than with the sight of stars? Alan Rifkin, president of the Springfield STARS Club, is fond of classical music. He is also an avid astronomer who enjoys throwing star parties where observers gather to gaze at the heavens through telescopes. He has long dreamed of holding a star party at Tanglewood, the annual summer music festival in the Berkshires and summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Earlier this year Rifkin began working with Dr. Donald Lubowich, Coordinator of the Astronomy Outreach Program at Hofstra University on Long Island, NY, to make his dream come true. Lubowich, also a fan of classical music and Tanglewood, had recently received a large grant from NASA to do public outreach astronomy programs at outdoor concerts on Long Island. He and Rifkin contacted Tanglewood, and the program “Music and Astronomy Under the Stars” was born. A joint venture of NASA, Hofstra University and the Springfield STARS Club, the program will take place during Tanglewood on Parade, on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009, starting at 2.30pm and continuing late into the night, after the fireworks are over. A tent and telescopes will be set up on the lawn, just inside the main gate at Tanglewood. The program will feature stargazing for adults and children with telescope observations of the sun prior to the concerts, and the moon, planets, stars and nebulae after dark. There will also be a multimedia astronomy presentation. The NASA-sponsored event is part of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of the telescope for astronomy. The musical program for Tanglewood on Parade will feature works by Rossini, Enescu, Bernstein, John Williams, Copland and Tchaikovsky, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra and Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. For more information, please see Tanglewood on Parade on the Boston Symphony Orchestra web site at www.bso.org or visit the Springfield STARS Club web site at www.reflector.org or call (800) 336-9054.
Amanda Jermyn, of Longmeadow, has been a member of the Springfield Stars Club since 2000 and currently serves on the club's board of directors. For more information, visit the Springfield Stars Club Web site at www.reflector.org or call 1(800)336-9054.
Copyright © Amanda Jermyn