Alexei Filippenko

Alexei Filippenko

2015 MacLennan Memorial Lecture: Alexei Filippenko

Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe

Alex Filippenko, an award-winning professor of astronomy at University of California, Berkeley, will share his insights on exploding stars and the expanding universe at the inaugural Dan MacLennan Memorial Lecture on Saturday, October 17 at 7:00 pm in Saint Mary’s McNally Theatre Auditorium. One of the world's most highly cited astronomers, Dr. Filippenko was a member of both teams that revealed the accelerating expansion of the Universe, a discovery that earned team leaders the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and team members the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. Winner of UC Berkeley’s most prestigious teaching awards, and voted “Best Professor” on campus a record nine times, Dr. Filippenko has produced five astronomy video courses, co-authored an award-winning astronomy textbook, and appeared in more than 100 television documentaries.

Dr. Filippenko’s lecture Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe is the first in a series of annual astronomy lectures established by the MacLennan family to celebrate lifelong learning and the joy of discovery. After his retirement, Dan MacLennan attended astronomy classes at Saint Mary’s and discovered a new world view through the lens of Saint Mary’s University’s telescope. Using a camera purchased to photograph goldfinches and an old telescope from his target-shooting days, MacLennan captured high-quality images of sun spots and presented his work at the annual gathering of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

“While Dan was a reserved man who shunned the limelight, he quietly showed leadership in many of his life endeavours,” says Oriel MacLennan, Dan MacLennan’s daughter-in-law. “He enormously valued his time at Saint Mary's and the opportunities presented him. This inaugural lecture, stellar indeed, would have been a source of quiet gratification for him. We are happy to help in advancing this cause.”

To follow the lead of the MacLennan family in fanning the flames of scientific discovery, after the lecture concludes, guests are invited to enjoy refreshments and view the night sky from telescopes set up on the front lawn of the McNally Theatre Auditorium (weather permitting). Students and professors from Saint Mary’s Department of Astronomy and Physics and members of the Royal Astronomical Society (Halifax Chapter) will be available to answer questions.

"We are very excited to host this event and to have Alex Filippenko as a guest on campus," says Dr. Marcin Sawicki, Department Chair and professor in Saint Mary's Department of Astronomy and Physics. “We appreciate the generosity of the MacLennan family in making this possible. I can't think of a better tribute to Dan MacLennan’s passion for learning about the universe than a lecture series that, each year, will see world-leading astronomers giving public talks at Saint Mary’s University.”