Edna DeVore

Edna DeVore
Director, Center for Education

Science and astronomy educator Edna DeVore is the Director of Education at the SETI Institute. She’s been a researcher, planetarium director, teacher, and curriculum writer, and currently is busy with projects related to education and SETI. Notable among these are the “Life in the Universe” curriculum materials for students in grades 3-9 and a high school course, “Voyages Through Time”.

Edna also co-directs the education and public outreach programs for two NASA missions: SOFIA and Kepler. SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) is a modified 747 commercial jet that will carry a large (2.5 m) telescope up to 45,000 feet to observe the universe in infrared wavelengths – a part of the spectrum which cannot be seen from the ground. The Kepler Mission is a space-based telescope that will hunt for Earth-sized planets in orbit about Sun-like stars.

Edna says she was fascinated by the sky in the summers of her childhood near California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Brilliant stars and the glittering Milky Way shimmered overhead from her front yard, unsullied by street lights. The sky was a part of the evening’s entertainment. Then, as an undergraduate, she took physics and encountered astronomy. That led Edna to work in planetariums, further education, and eventually her current work at the Institute. Now she’s bringing the excitement and knowledge of science to new generations. It’s hard to think of anything more important.

Andrew Fraknoi

Andrew Fraknoi

Andrew Fraknoi is the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College in Los Altos, California. Fraknoi was the Carnegie Endowment for Higher Education's 2007 California Professor of the Year. He was the founding co-editor of the journal "Astronomy Education Review," is lead author of the "Voyages Through the Universe" college textbooks series, and was Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for 14 years.

  • Chair, Astronomy Department, Foothill College (1992 - present)
  • Selected 2007 California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Endowment for Higher Education
  • Founder and co-editor, Astronomy Education Review (2001 - 2010)
  • Lead author, Voyages Through the Universe, college textbook series from Brooks-Cole (1997 - present)
  • Member, SETI Institute Board of Trustees (Vice-Chair 2010-2012)
  • Executive Director, Astronomical Society of the Pacific (1978 - 1992)
  • Adjunct Professor of Astronomy & Physics, San Francisco State University (1980 - 1991)
  • Founding Editor, The Universe in the Classroom newsletter on teaching astronomy (1984 - 1991)
  • Winner, Annenberg Foundation Prize for Astronomy Education, American Astronomical Society (1994)
  • Asteroid 4859 named Asteroid Fraknoi (1992) by the International Astronomical Union
  • Fellow, California Academy of Sciences (2003 on)
  • Winner, Klumpke-Roberts Prize of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for astronomy popularization (1994)
  • Winner, Gemant Prize, American Institute of Physics (2007)
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (2011)

John Gertz

John Gertz
Trustee Emeritus, Former Chairman

John Gertz is the president and CEO of Zorro Productions, Inc., which he founded in 1977. He has been responsible for four Zorro motion pictures including Zorro, the Gay Blade (1982), The Mask of Zorro (1998), and The Legend of Zorro (2005), the last two starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta -Jones. Also under his tenure, seven different ZORRO TV series have been produced, as well as about twenty ZORRO stage productions. Zorro Productions has executed over a thousand license agreements in such diverse areas as book and comic publishing, theme parks, commercial endorsements, apparel, food products, computer games and toys. Zorro Productions does business in many countries around the world through a network of some 35 agencies. In 2005, together with world renowned author, Isabel Allende, ZPI released a novel about the genesis of the ZORRO character. It hit the NY Times bestseller list and has been published in some 30 languages.  Gertz is an avid amateur astronomer, past-president of the Berkeley Jewish Community Center Board, and various other non-profit boards. He earned his M.A in psycholophysiology from Haifa University, and his B.A. in comparative mythology and religion at UCLA and Prescott College.

Targeted Star Search

Selecting Target Stars

Life as we know it developed on a planet orbiting a G2 V star, the Sun. The cryptic “G2 V” designation is the Sun’s “spectral type.” Based on a star’s spectrum, astronomers group stars by temperature. From hottest to coolest, the spectral classes are O, B, A, F, G, K, and M. Each class is subdivided into ten and numbered from 0 to 9. The Sun is a G2 star. The “V” is the Roman numeral for five and designates the Sun’s luminosity class. Stars in luminosity classes I, II, and III are “giant” stars, very luminous and nearing the end of their life as a star. Class IV stars are “sub-giant” stars that are just entering “old age” and as the name implies, large but not giant. Stars in luminosity class V, like the Sun, burn only hydrogen in their cores and are relatively stable.

It is generally agreed that stars with spectral types from about F5 through K5 may be suitable hosts for habitable planets. Some recent studies indicate the some cooler stars, perhaps to spectral type M4, also may host habitable planets.

The HabCat Catalogs

In 2003, Margaret Turnbull and Jill Tarter published two lists of selected stars. The Nearby Habitable Systems (HabCat1) was created from the Hipparcos Catalogue by examining the information on distances, stellar variability, multiplicity, kinematics, and spectral classification for the 118,218 stars contained therein. They also made use of information from several other catalogs containing data for Hipparcos stars on X-ray luminosity, Ca II H and K activity, rotation, spectral types, kinematics, metallicity,

and Stromgren photometry. Combined with theoretical studies on habitable zones, evolutionary tracks, and third-body orbital stability, these data were used to remove unsuitable stars from HabCat, leaving a residue of stars that, to the best of our current knowledge, are potentially habitable hosts for complex life. The resulting HabCat1 catalog contains 17,133 well-selected “habstars”.

Since we need about one million target stars to fully utilize the capability of the ATA, a second catalog of stars was derived from the Tycho-2 Catalogue of 2.5 million stars. Unlike the Hipparcos stars, the Tycho stars did not have distance measurements. The approximately 250,000 stars of HabCat2 were selected primarily by their colors (brightness in blue and “visual” filters) and proper motion (motion across the sky).

You can download the HabCat1 list below. Here’s a peek at the first few entries and an explanation of the columns..













































B+19 5185
























B- 4 6001













HIP – Hipparcos Catalogue number

RA – Right Ascension (J2000) in hours, minutes, and seconds Dec – Declination (J2000) in degrees, minutes, and seconds v_mag – visual magnitude (apparent brightness) a star with v_mag less than 6 is visible to the eye with a dark sky parllx – parallax angle (in milliarcseconds) of motion of star due to Earth’s orbit around the Sun Distance in parsecs = 1000/parallax Distance in light years = 3262/parallax

B-V – Color Index, the difference in brightness measured in special Blue and Visual filters

HD – Henry Draper Catalogue number

BD – Bonner Durchmusterung Catalogue number

The HabCat1 list is in tab delimited text format.


SETI on the ATA: Galactic Center Survey

The region near the center of our galaxy contains the highest concentration of stars in the sky, yet has only been searched for ETI signals at a few “magic” frequencies. We will search a large area near the galactic center over the entire “waterhole” frequency range, from 1420 to 1720 MHz. This frequency range is defined by the spectral lines for the dissociation products of water, the sine qua non for life as we know it. This band also includes the minimum background noise due to synchrotron emission from the galaxy and the cosmic microwave background radiation. It is the “cosmic quiet zone” where we can best listen for a faint whisper across the interstellar expanse.

We will search for narrowband signals from ET in a 2 degree by 10 degree area including, but not centered on, the center of our galaxy. (For scale: the Moon is half a degree in diameter, so it would take “80 Moons” to cover the survey area.) This region near the galactic center contains perhaps 40 billion stars within a distance of about 25,000 light years of the Earth.

The survey area will be covered by pointing the array at 80 positions and steering the phased array beams within the central one half degree square portion of the FOV. Figure 1 shows the FOV (at 1420 MHz) and two beams, observing two different positions at the same frequency at the same time to help exclude radio interference. The white squares show the half degree squares enclosing about half of the pointing positions in the survey. The background image is a radio picture taken at 300 MHz using the Very Large Array. It demonstrates the potential for commensal radio astronomy imaging at other frequencies with the ATA. A more familiar view of the Milky Way is shown in Figure 2.

figure 1 Figure 1. The white squares are 0.5 degree on a side and show half the area to be covered in the Galactic Center Search.. The yellow circle is the field of view of the array at 1420 MHz. The yellow ovals show the size of the phased array beams. The Moon is shown for scale. The background image shows radio emission from our galaxy. (Kassim, LaRosa, Lazio, and Hyman; ASP Conference Series, Vol. 186, 1999).figure 2 Figure 2. The red rectangle shows the approximate location of the search area in this optical image. The constellation of Sagittarius is visible in the evening sky in July. (Credit: W. Keel, U. Alabama, Tuscaloosa and Cerro Tololo, Chile.)


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