Dr. Judith Pipher takes us through her early years as a girl charting the stars, her education and training, and her career as a trail-blazing professional astronomer. In this interview, “The mother of infrared astronomy” tells us about inventing and using the specialized cameras that dramatically expanded the reach of telescopes, enabling us to glimpse distant reaches of the universe and better understand its history. Along the way, we hear what its like to discover and nurture one’s intellectual passion while working as a woman in what continues to be a mostly male field. Her stories and reflections form an inspiring constellation of their own: a picture of women in science in the twentieth century and beyond.
With colleague Dr. Larry Helfer, and graduate student Terry Herter, we
stand by the Cornell mid-infrared spectrometer mounted on the KAO, on
which we obtained important spectroscopic information on multiple star formation regions.
With Colleague Dr. Graeme Duthie, and Graduate Student Jerry Krassner, we are installing our Rochester-built Lamellar Grating Interferometer on the KAO’s – Kuiper Airborne Observatory’s telescope. The KAO flew to an altitude above 40,000 ft. to follow astronomical sources for which we acquired spectra at wavelengths of 50 – 300 microns (0.05 -0.3 mm) of diverse objects such as the Orion Giant Molecular Cloud, and Jupiter. The KAO’s C141 airplane had a 36″ telescope mounted in its fuselage. See http://science.nasa.gov/missions/kao/
All the astronomy images are observations obtained on the Spitzer Space
Telescope. Launched in 2003, the camera for which our group developed
some of the sensor arrays, is still gathering images. See
for details on Spitzer. All of the images of star forming regions shown here were gathered on Spitzer and are available here. The images are false color images, where each color
represents a specific infrared color (wavelength). On the Spitzer
website, you can search for these four objects W5, Rosebud NGC 7129, Rho
Ophiuchi Cloud, Eagle Nebula M16 for detailed information. The Rosebud
was provided by my then graduate student, Rob Gutermuth he presented it
to his fiancé on Valentine¹s Day that year.
Daniel Hastings: Recording Bree von Bradsky: Editing