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  Introduction Jay Gallagher Biography Anne Kinney Biography Lynn Matthews Biography Linda Sparke Biography  

Professor Jay Gallagher mainly grew up in the suburbs of New York City during the peak of the space race, when thoughts about space and astronomy were hard to avoid. Having been interested in the stars by his grandmother and by really seeing the sky during a winter he spent in Manchester, Vermont, he was primed to become seriously involved in astronomy. He finally succumbed as an undergraduate at Princeton University. While a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is now a member of the Astronomy faculty, Prof. Gallagher did a Ph.D. thesis based on observations of an exploding star obtained with the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory A-2, the first robotic ultraviolet space astronomy observatory. He later became interested in galaxies. In addition to his astronomy, he is trying with less success to add to his family's gardening skills, a task made more challenging by Wisconsin's famous "four season" climate.

Most of Prof. Gallagher's astronomical work is based on observations made with telescopes on Earth and in space. His research developed while he held positions at several different places, most notably the Universities of Minnesota and Illinois and at the Lowell Observatory, before coming back to Madison. Currently he is working on a variety of research projects, including studies of the history of star formation in nearby galaxies using the Hubble Space Telescope and the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope on Kitt Peak. He is a member of the science team responsible for the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in the Hubble Space Telescope, that we used to make these Heritage Observations, and is involved in the International Gemini 8-m Telescopes project that is building advanced technology telescopes on Hawaii and in Chile.

The Spherical Cow:

Scientists strive to discover simple rules which underlie complex natural phenomena. For example, when making a model of some complex object a scientist may make some pretty extreme assumptions. For example, when asked to find the force of gravity produced by a complicated object like a galaxy, astronomers will usually start by assuming that it acts like a sphere, which in this and many other cases allows one to make approximate first solutions to complicated problems.

This tendancy to simplify gave rise to the joke of a science professor who begins a lecture, "Consider a spherical cow..." Since Wisconsin is well known to have a large population of dairy cows, it is not too surprising that the University of Wisconsin astronomers and astrophyscists selected this picture of a spherical cow made by Ingrid Kallick as their symbol for a recent national meeting of astronomers in Madison.

Learn more on the web:

University of Wisconsin-Madison Astronomy

National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Observatorie de Paris, including the Nancay radio telescope used by Matthews

The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 Science Team, headquartered at Jet Propulsion Laboratory