Video Chat with an Astronomer
Engage in a twenty-minutes web-based video chat with a real-life astronomer!
You can ask them about anything: travels to telescopes on remote mountaintops, their daily schedule, or the exact nature of black holes!
How to Set Up an Appointment
We strongly encourage requests from groups: we take calls from schools and museums. We may exceptionally set up a video chat for individuals: call us to find out!
If your Video Chat appointment has been confirmed, come back on the specified day and time to toggle this menu
What You Need
Everything is taken care of within a web browser (no installation or password required).
All you need is a computer with a working microphone and loudspeakers… and perhaps a webcam for us to see you, but that’s not necessary!
If you don’t have a computer in your classroom, or have issues with microphone, loudspeakers, or Adobe Flash (required for our Video Chat, but present on most computers), let us know: we will strive to accommodate other software, or a plain telephone call.
They’ll do their best to answer any question, but please remember that no single person knows everything about the Universe!
Learn More about the Expert You Are Scheduled to Talk to
- Dr. Johannes Hirn
- Dr. Mike Reid
- Dr. Bryce Croll
- Dr. Elizabeth Harper-Clark
- Dr. Anne-Marie Weijmans
- Dr. David Law
Dr. Johannes Hirn answers questions about Particle Physics in English, French or Spanish.
You can ask him about anything from the Dark Energy to extra-dimensions via the Higgs particle.
Johannes got an Engineering Degree and a PhD from France. More recently, he earned a Master’s Degree in Science Journalism from Boston University. In between, he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Theoretical Physics at Yale University.
Dr. Mike Reid answers questions about the solar system, the life of stars, but also black holes.
Mike uses infrared and radio telescopes to study clouds of gas and dust in space to see how they form new stars and new solar systems.
He’s especially interested in how the largest stars form — the kind that eventually explode as supernovas, leaving behind exotic objects like neutron stars and black holes.
Mike received his Ph.D. from McMaster University and worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Submillimeter Array — a telescope in Hawaii — before returning to Canada to focus on education and public outreach in astronomy.
His specialty is communicating complex astronomical concepts to non-scientists. He teaches the largest first-year astronomy course at the University of Toronto, AST 101, and coordinates the public outreach activities of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Dr. Bryce Croll answers questions about exoplanets and sunspots.
Bryce uses some of the world’s largest and newest optical and near-infrared telescopes to determine the characteristics of exoplanets big and small — from Jupiter-size planets orbiting closer to their stars than Mercury does in our own solar system, to the smallest and most Earth-like planets that we’ve discovered to date.
Bryce is helping to develop the observational techniques that will one day be used to search for the the subtle signatures of extraterrestrial life in the atmospheres of habitable planets in other solar systems.
Bryce grew up in Western Canada in the cities of Calgary, Alberta, and Abbotsford, British Columbia. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto in June 2011. He is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Elizabeth Harper-Clark answers questions about star and planet formation, nebulae, galaxies.
Elizabeth recently received her PhD from the University of Toronto, working on the disruption of nebulae by the stars within them.
She completed her bachelor’s and master’s at Cambridge University, UK.
She did her master’s thesis on the gravitational stability of proto-planetary discs. During her undergraduate she spent a year at MIT on exchange and worked on interactions between objects in the Kuiper Belt and on improving detection of Near Earth Objects.
Dr. Anne-Marie Weijmans answers questions about the birth and life of galaxies, and about Dark Matter.
Anne-Marie is interested in the formation and evolution of galaxies, and her research focuses on modelling Dark Matter haloes around elliptical galaxies. She is also coordinating the summer student programme at the Dunlap Institute.
Anne-Marie studied Astronomy at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, where she also earned her PhD. She then moved to Toronto to work as a Dunlap Fellow at the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.
When she is not looking for Dark Matter, or chasing summer students around, Anne-Marie plays the oboe in the North Toronto Community Band, or can be found knitting her own socks and sweaters.
Dr. David Law answers questions about galaxies (including the Milky Way), the night sky, the history of instruments and observations before the 1900s.
David studies the shape and movements of galaxies — from our own to the ones that existed when the Universe was still young — to learn how they formed and how Dark Matter affects them.
For his work, David relies on computer simulations as well as telescopes that use lasers and Adaptive Optics.
David obtained his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Caltech in 2009 and spent three years as a Hubble Fellow at UCLA.
Outside the office, he spends the majority of his time with his wife and 2-year-old son, and enjoys woodcarving and collecting antique astronomical and navigational instruments.
But we’re just normal people who happen to do science: we’re happy to talk about anything — life, science, and society, so no questions are off-topic.
To the right are some suggestions to help your group get started with questions.
Questions about our life and work
- Where do you come from?
- What’s your job like?
- What do you do during the day?
- Do you travel often?
- How high is the tallest mountain you’ve been on?
Slightly more technical questions
- What’s your favourite thing to look at in the night sky?
- How big is the biggest telescope you’ve seen?
- What are you trying to find out and why?
- Do you work on your own or with other people?