May 2020: Picture of the Month

On May 30th, amid stormy skies, SpaceX's Crew Dragon became the first rocket to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil since 2011, thus starting a new era of commercial space flight.

February 2020: Picture of the Month

Raffle ticket drawings at the annual ASX Symposium. Here, guest speaker John Cramer draws raffles from a space helmet, in accordance with ASX tradition.

August 2019 Picture of the Month

This picture is an original photograph of the Perseid meteor shower taken by ASX Chief Graphic Designer Hansen Jiang. The photo was created by superimposing two separate pictures of meteors onto each other, which is why two streaks of light can be seen.

May 2019: Picture of the Month

On May 11th, ASX participated in Science Rendezvous, along with many other science departments and organizations at U of T to bring science out of the lab and onto the street. As per tradition, execs donned ceremonial ASX garb, including space suits and cosmic squid hats.

May 2018: Picture of the Month

Why is there a large boulder near the center of Tycho's peak?
Tycho crater on the Moon is one of the easiest features to see, visible even to the unaided eye (inset, lower right).
But at the center of Tycho (inset, upper left) is a something unusual -- a 120-meter boulder.

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Star Talk: Statistics Meets Astronomy


Link to Facebook Event page:

Big data permeates every facet of modern society, and astronomy is no exception! What do astrophysicists do with the massive amounts of information being constantly recorded by telescopes? To find out, join ASX for our first-ever, socially-distant online Star Talk on Wednesday, July 8. From analysing the behavior of single stars to calculating the mass of the Milky Way, Professor Gwendolyn Eadie will be elucidating the ways in which statistics meets astronomy! As always, everyone is welcome!

Lecture Abstract:
Statistics meets Astronomy: Challenges in Time and Space

Astronomy, like so many other disciplines, has entered an era of big data — large telescopes and all-sky surveys are bringing in petabytes amount of data on a daily basis. The hope is that these large data sets will help us not only untangle mysteries of the universe but also help us discover new phenomena. At the same time, these data sets often come with challenges that require sophisticated statistical analysis. In this talk, I will summarize some of the exciting science being done by my Astrostatistics Research Team at the University of Toronto, from studies of individual stars, to open star clusters and the entire Milky Way Galaxy.

About the Speaker:
Dr. Gwendolyn Eadie is an Assistant Professor jointly-appointed between U of T’s David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Department of Statistical Sciences. Prof. Eadie is an expert in astrostatistics, and is currently applying modern statistical methods to the study of the Milky Way.

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Dozens tune in to historic crewed rocket launch, jointly streamed by the ASX and UTAT

ASX and UTAT co-moderate event, with rocketry lead answering audience questions

By: Adam A. Lam

A new era of space flight began with the blastoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on May 30, livestreamed to an audience of over 3 million — including over 25 participants tuning in to a watch party by the Astronomy & Space Exploration Society (ASX) and the University of Toronto Aerospace Team (UTAT).

The flight of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station was the first in history undertaken with a spacecraft designed and built by a private company. The success followed a first attempt scrubbed due to weather on May 27 — also watched by over 45 participants in a first watch party on Zoom by the ASX and UTAT.

Leading up to the successful launch, Jacob Weber, the Hybrid Engine Propulsion Lead from UTAT’s Rocket Division, fielded questions from participants about the science and engineering of the rocket launch during both watch parties.

Posting questions in the Zoom chat, audience members asked about topics such as the impact of weather on launch safety, the extent of automation of the rocket’s launch, and why white vapour was billowing out of the spacecraft before liftoff.

Audience members learned about the importance of weather monitoring to avoid excessive wind shear during a launch, which could damage the rocket and capsule in flight. Weber also noted the importance of “favourable conditions downrange” for the astronauts’ recovery, in case of an aborted mission mid-flight.

Weber also explained that the rocket’s launch was fully automated. He noted that, similar to UTAT’s rocket, the liquid oxygen, which is used to burn rocket fuel, needs to be vented out as it heats up during the launch.

In addition to technical questions, participants also asked lighthearted ones, such as if Weber would go to space (“definitely”) and what he would say to an angry Martian telling him to get off his lawn (“I’m not sure what I’d say”).

Upon the successful launch of the rocket, the chat erupted with cheers, as the two astronauts with sci-fi-inspired spacesuits departed in the first launch from US soil in nine years. Behnken and Hurley eventually arrived safely at the International Space Station after a 19-hour flight.

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UTAT Space Review

Thanks to everyone who tuned into last week’s collaboration event with UTAT! If you have time, check out the UTAT space review:

The UTAT Space Review is a news site by the University of Toronto Aerospace Team with the goal of educating and informing students about all things space. Covering everything from recent and important events, to detailing historical space achievements, to providing updates from UTAT itself, the UTAT Space Review aims to become your go-to for space news and education.

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