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 Zoom 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 be held on some Tuesdays at 7:00 PM (see schedule below) starting October 5th and go through December 14th. You can join the events using the given Zoom links. 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 Sarah Taft (

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When are these events?
    Fall semester events will take place on some Tuesdays at 7:00 PM (see schedule below), starting October 5th and go through December 14th

  • How do I join?
    You can join using the zoom link posted with each event.

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

Upcoming Events: Fall 2021

Tuesday, October 5, 7:00 PM CDT

The Drake Equation and Extraterrestrial Life

Presenters: Sarah Taft and John Miller

We will start this semester's Universe @ Home events by talking about the Drake equation, a famous method used to analyze and estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations that could exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. Aspects of this equation include star formation, stars that host planets, and what planetary conditions are necessary to host life.

Zoom Link

Tuesday, October 12, 7:00 PM CDT

The Death of Stars

Presenters: Derek Perera and Tyler Barna

Supernovae, violent explosions that occur at the end of stars' lives, are some of the most energetic, transient processes in our universe. Despite being such important events, they are still not completely understood. We will explore the two main types of explosions in this event.

Zoom Link

Past Events

Wednesday, April 28, 8:00 PM CDT

What's This Universe Thing Made Of, Anyway?

Presenters: Baibhav Singari, Alexander Criswell and Ann Isaacs 

What do you think of when you imagine the Universe? Do you picture stars? planets? galaxies? What if we told you that everything you pictured - everything we can see or interact with - only comprises 5% of the universe? In the final Universe @ Home of the season, we explore the other 95%. Learn about the mysterious nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, how we know they exist, and how astronomers are trying to uncover the secrets of these dark facets of our Universe...

Wednesday, April 14

The Theory of General Relativity (And You)

Presenters: Nico Adams, Maxwell Kuschel and Avery Wold

Right now, astronauts on the International Space Station are moving faster through time than you are. Similarly, your head is moving very slightly faster than your feet. These things are a result of the General Theory of Relativity, which states that Earth's gravity warps the space and time that we live in. In this talk, we'll discuss a few ways that general relativity is currently affecting you on Earth, and how astronomers have measured these effects in space.

Watch Here 

Wednesday, March 31

Light Pollution: The Loss of the Night Sky

Presenters: Anjana Telidevara, Darcy Ballantyne and Ramona White

When people think of pollution, light isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, light pollution can be just as harmful to humans and the environment. Not only do the stars become invisible when inside a major city full of bright lights, but sleep schedules of both humans and animals are negatively affected as well. Luckily, we can take action to halt the progression of light pollution and easily reverse it.

Wednesday, March 17

Earthquakes? On Mars? A Brief Overview of the InSight Lander

Presenters: Darcy Ballantyne, Jon Brashear and Anna Boldt

The InSight lander touched down on Mars in late 2018. Since then it has studied the internal heat flow and seismic activity in the red planet. The goal is to learn about the internal structure and composition of Mars, which could provide insight into the formation of other rocky planets such as Earth. We'll give an overview of some of its more groundbreaking discoveries.

Activity: In crossword and NASA Pi in the Sky activity after the talk.

Wednesday, March 3

The Cosmic Terminus: Quasars and Accretion Disks

Presenters: Corbin Condon, Dan Urbanski and Ethan Roadfeldt

The brightest shining lights in the universe glimmer from the darkest objects that populate it: black holes. However because of the massive presence of angular momentum these spheres of annihilation create whirlpools of matter, rather than it simply falling in. These material vortexes are under such strain that they glow brighter than any star. We'll discuss what angular momentum is, why black holes have it, and the circumstances that Quasars and Blasars form in.

Wednesday, February 17

Perseverance: Coming Soon to a Red Planet Near You

Presenters: Alexander Criswell, Noah Bazan and Andrew Toivonen

The latest Mars rover, chock full of cool gadgets and gizmos - including a tiny helicopter! - will be touching down on Mars on February 18th. Tune in the day before Perseverance arrives at its destination to learn all about this exciting new window into Martian history, geology, and (potentially) life! As a bonus, find out how Perseverance was named and which of the prospective names we thought should have been picked.

Wednesday, February 3

Galactic Oddities

Presenters: Ann Isaacs, Maxwell Kuschel and Anne Duerr

Welcome to the galactic menagerie! In our 2021 debut for Universe @ Home, we're talking about the weird ones - galaxies that are strange, deformed, out of place, or could even be missing their dark matter! Afterwards, ask questions about these cosmic curiosities before learning how you can help astronomers classify real galaxies through Galaxy Zoo.

Activity: Galaxy classification in Galaxy Zoo

Watch Here