Contact: Tonya Lowentritt
Date: March 28, 2013
SCOPING THE SKIES – The Southeastern Channel's "Northshore Gems" host Rob Moreau explains the upgrade work at LIGO as part of the latest episode which will debut at 8 p.m. Saturday night. The new episode highlights the high-tech LIGO observatory in Livingston Parish and the Pontchartrain Astronomy Club in Washington Parish.
HAMMOND – In its latest version of "Northshore Gems," the Southeastern Channel, Southeastern
Louisiana University's educational access station on Charter Cable, looks through
the north shore's telescope into the heavenlies.
The award-winning series about tourist and travel gems on the North Shore explores the high-tech LIGO facility near Livingston, one of four laboratories in the world measuring gravitational disturbances in outer space, along with the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society, which offers an observatory for stargazing near Franklinton.
The new program debuts at 8 p.m. Saturday and will re-air at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Monday, 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Friday.
"This new episode uncovers some fascinating, hidden gems to visit on the North Shore," said Southeastern Channel general manager Rick Settoon. "Many viewers in this area have no idea that both a space observatory of major global importance and a fun astronomy club are hidden in rural areas nearby."
LIGO, which stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory, is located area near Livingston as one of two facilities in the country using lasers to measure changes in gravitational waves caused by cataclysmic events in outer space, such as star collisions and black holes.
The site was built by a team of scientists from the National Science Foundation utilizing an interferometer measuring device and powerful lasers traveling along two four-kilometer tracks positioned at right angles.
"Northshore Gems" host Rob Moreau explores the facility with staff scientists to discover how the process works and the science educational opportunities available for schools and the public.
MIT professor emeritus Rainer Weiss, an original pioneer of gravitational wave study who designed LIGO several decades ago, explains the scientific process to Moreau in an interview.
Also included is a walking tour with staff scientist Brian O'Reilly of Ireland, who discusses the 200-watt laser and current multi-million dollar upgrade to increase its sensitivity 10-fold.
William Katzman, LIGO's science education director, describes exciting interactive tours available to the public and how physics students, teachers and classes from kindergarten through university level benefit from studying at the laboratory.
Southeastern physics professor Sanichiro Yoshida, a former LIGO scientist, and student Sean Craft discuss their research project with two other physics students designing and assembling a 60-hertz antenna to measure electromagnetic environmental changes at LIGO.
In the second half of the show Moreau travels to the Sandras Paulk Memorial Observatory site near Franklinton in rural Washington Parish to reveal the stargazing activities of amateur astronomers in the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society.
Moreau tours the observatory, peering through its telescope, and walks through an observing field with over 20 society members and their telescopes, discussing their regular viewings of planets, galaxies and nebulae.
Walter Sarrat, the site manager, shows how the society accommodates members and their families overnight at the observatory with new dormitory and camping facilities along with provisions for power and cooking.
The new "Northshore Gems" episode was produced, videotaped and edited by Southeastern Channel staff member Byron Caplan.
The Southeastern Channel, named "Best College TV Station in the South," can be seen on Charter Cable Channel 18 in Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Livingston parishes and on Channel 17 in Washington Parish. Its live 24/7 webcast and video on demand are viewed in 46 states and 47 countries monthly at www.southeastern.edu/tv.