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Science Lecture Series to be Named for UI Astronomer

James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series to replace "World of Science" talks

Friday, January 12, 2018
Since the early days of the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, there has been a "World of Science" lecture series under the dome. The series has served as a conduit for the scientific community to present their research to the general public. Talks usually take place the first Friday of the months that Parkland College classes are in session at 7 p.m. Dr. James B. Kaler

Staerkel Planetarium announces it is renaming the series the "James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series" in honor of one of its longtime annual presenters, a retired UIUC astronomer and distinguished science author.  

"This is something I have wanted to do," planetarium Director David Leake said. "When I inherited the series during my early days at Staerkel, I was given instructions, 'Call Jim Kaler first!' And I did, every year. Jim never turned me down. He became a fixture in the series and, nearly every year, he sold the place out."

Leake added that Dr. Kaler most likely gave his last talk for the newly named series this past December.

"Jim has a gift of being able to take difficult astronomical concepts and relate them to a general audience," Leake remarked. "Though his research was important, he never forgot the public outreach aspect. It was very important to him and something I always admired." One of the series' most prolific presenters, Kaler gave between 20 and 25 talks over the years, Leake estimates.

Kaler came to the University of Illinois in 1964 after earning his PhD from UCLA. He has published over 120 papers and authored nearly 20 books, his latest being "From the Sun to the Stars." In 1989 he gave an "astronomy update" presentation to delegates at a planetarium conference in Champaign only to be invited back each year for the next 20 years. Kaler won the prestigious American Astronomical Society's Education Prize in 2008 and has an asteroid named after him.  

The lineup of speakers in the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series is available at www2.parkland.edu/planetarium/lectures.html. The talks are open to the general public and the cost is $2 per person at the door. 

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