The Cockefair Chair was established in 1964 to honor Carolyn Benton Cockefair, an exceptional teacher who devoted her life to education. The chair’s activities continue as a monument to Mrs. Cockefair’s belief that a community needs “open and responsive minds” if it is to be politically and socially healthy, and serves those goals by bringing scholars, writers, and public intellectuals to UMKC in a continuing education program.
In Fall 2021, the Cockefair Chair presents three fascinating courses.
The stars as points of light have been known and observed since ancient times, and the Greeks cataloged and named many of them. But the stars didn’t really DO anything except go around once a day, so very little was added to our knowledge of them for 1800 years. They were mapped into gorgeous star atlases in the 17th century, but no one had any idea what stars really are, until the 18th century when it was discovered that stars move relative to one another. In 1838, the distance to a star was finally measured, and their remoteness became apparent. By 1859 we learned that light from stars carries a code, in the form of dark spectral lines, that tells us what stars are made of. By 1913, we knew stars come in a great variety of sizes and temperatures, and by 1920 it became clear that stars must be continually born in vast galactic dust clouds and are just as continually dying out, sometimes violently. The 1950s brought us awareness of really peculiar stellar forms – black holes, pulsars, quasars — and the stars continue to surprise us, down to the present day. We will discuss how we came to understand the composition, birth, evolution, and death of stars, and learn about some of the great stellar astronomers and astrophysicists, such as Edmond Halley, Friedrich Bessel, Henry Norris Russell, Maarten Schmidt, and Stephen Hawking. As always, there will be an abundance of illustrations to accompany the discussion.
- Dr. Bill Ashworth, Associate Professor Emeritus
- Department of History
- Wednesdays, 10:30 – noon
- Nov 3, 10, and 17
- Synchronous online Zoom sessions only
- This course is co-sponsored in partnership with the Linda Hall Library
Registration and location information will be provided at a later date.