Artist's depiction of an aurora as seen from far above Earth's surface.

Universe @ Home

The Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics will continue our popular Universe @ Home series this fall! These virtual events are intended to introduce the study of space and our Universe in a fun and engaging way, while providing a “peek behind the curtain” at modern research in astrophysics.
Each event will be presented on YouTube Live and will include a short talk on astronomy or space science, a Q&A session where you can ask questions of all kinds, and an activity that you can often try for yourself after the event ends. Events are designed for people of all ages and backgrounds, from families to seasoned scientists, and will include titles such as Black Holes, Neutron Stars, and Other Things That Go Bump in the Night and Hubble: The Extraterrestrial Observatory!  
Events will happen every other Wednesday night (8:00–9:00 PM) starting September 23rd and go through December 16th. To join, you may register at one of the links below, or simply check for the YouTube Live link posted to this site shortly before each event. You can also browse our past events by clicking the links below. We hope you’ll tune in!
For questions or more information please contact Alexander Criswell (

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When are these events?
    Fall semester events will take place from 8:00–9:00 PM every other Wednesday, starting September 23rd and going through December 16th.

  • What does a typical event look like?
    Usually, two or three presenters will begin streaming on YouTube Live at 8:00 PM. There is a live chat on YouTube available for the audience to leave comments or questions, which we will answer live throughout the event. To see an example of a past event, you can view our trial event.

  • How do I join?
    The easiest way is to click the “register” link on an event you’re interested in. If you register, we will send you an email with the YouTube Live link the day of the event, as well as any other information that might go along with it. For example, we may send you a sky map to accompany our virtual sky tour, or instructions on how to prepare for a craft. If you just want to tune in, we will do our best to post the YouTube Live link on this site before each event.

  • I missed an event live! Can I still tune in?
    Yes! All past events are available on our Universe @ Home channel.

Fall 2020 Schedule

Wednesday, September 23, 8:00 PM CDT

Black Holes, Neutron Stars, and Other Things That Go Bump in the Night

Presented by Alexander Criswell, Noah Bazan, and Andrew Toivonen

Incredibly dense objects like black holes and neutron stars can cause literal ripples in the fabric of spacetime — and we can detect them! Hear all about gravitational waves and the strange objects that can emit them, from far-flung supermassive black holes to tens of thousands of white dwarf stars right here in our own galaxy.

Activity: GravitySpy

Wednesday, October 7, 8:00 PM CDT

What Goes Bump in the Day: A Discussion on some Less-Known Processes of our Sun

Presented by Corbin Condon, Daniel Urbanski, and Ethan Roadfeldt

Ever wonder why the grass is green? How about where wind comes from? Have you ever wanted to know how the earth might end? One familiar source may be responsible for all three: The Sun. How? Well... you'll just have to come find out.

Wednesday, October 21, 8:00 PM CDT

Starlink: Stealing the Stars

Presented by Lauren Laufman, Jon Brashear, and Anjana Telidevara

Extensive satellite constellations are becoming the new norm, and the consequences are dire for modern astronomy and stargazers. Starlink has led the charge, intending to launch thousands of satellites, and other companies are following in their footsteps. Is it too late to save the night sky?

Activity: How to view Starlink, how to contribute to citizen science projects documenting the degradation of the night sky

Wednesday, November 11, 8:00 PM CST

Cosmology and Large-Scale Structure: Why Nothing Really Matters

Presented by Darcy Ballantyne, Ann Isaacs, and Alexander Criswell

The universe is not uniform! It is made of huge structures massive superclusters and voids thousands of lightyears across. This is the story of how those structures formed, why we see them, and what it means for us on our tiny blue dot.

Wednesday, November 18, 8:00 PM CST

Gamma Ray Astronomy: From Pulsars to Supermassive Black Holes

Presented by Anne Duerr, Ann Isaacs, and Anna Boldt

Description: Gamma rays are the highest energy photons in the electromagnetic spectrum, created by the densest, most energetic processes in the universe. They have so much energy that they can't be reflected and focused onto a detector like lower energy photons. Though it developed considerably later than other, more traditional, modes of astronomy, gamma ray astronomy allows us to peer into the inner workings of mysterious systems like the jets of supermassive back holes, neutron stars, solar flares, and more!

Wednesday, December 2, 8:00 PM CST

Hubble: The Extraterrestrial Observatory

Presented by Nico Adams, Josh Mays, and Avery Wold

It took nearly 50 years, billions of dollars, and a frantic in-orbit repair mission to get the Hubble up and running -- and in the nearly 30 years since it has become a household name and one of the most sought-after tools by astronomers. Hear about the history of this telescope, why it's so good at its job, and some of the astounding things it has taught us about the Universe.

Wednesday, December 16, 8:00 PM CST

The first 20 minutes of the universe in 20 minutes

Presented by Olivia Falk, Maxwell Kuschel, and Hayley Williams

13.7 billion years ago the big bang occured and in the fastest whirlwind known to humanity all reality sprung forth. The events that followed helped characterize the very matter that forms and surrounds you. To help us understand this we look at the very first sights of reality.