NASA’s chief scientist to talk about the Moon in Poughkeepsie

Dr. James Green, chief scientist at NASA, will give the first presentation on “The Importance of the Moon: Past, Present and Future.” (NASA | Carla Cioffi)

Update: This program has been cancelled due to inclement weather. 

In times like these, when hard science is under siege by politicians and lobbyists whose financial interests tend not to be served by the collection and unbiased analysis of actual data, it’s a tonic to immerse oneself in activities that bring home how much fun science can be, even for a layperson. In fact, it’s the ideal time for the return of the Vassar Brothers Institute’s annual Science in Your Life lecture series. The Wednesday evening talks take place in Poughkeepsie, in the auditorium at Our Lady of Lourdes High School, and admission is always free. As in the past, each program will consist of an understandable talk by a scientist involved in research on the topic, and an opportunity for questions from the audience. And each one is preceded by a live musical performance.


The first Science in Your Life lecture for 2019 takes place on January 30, beginning with a mini-concert from the Vivace Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. At 8:15, Dr. James Green, chief scientist at NASA, will give a presentation on “The Importance of the Moon: Past, Present and Future.”  

Scientists believe that the Moon was formed out of a collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized planet named Theia at a very early stage of the development of the solar system. From then on, the Earth and the Moon’s evolution have been intertwined. The Moon has kept the Earth’s rotational axis pointing in the same direction, providing a significant level of stability for the Earth’s climate. Today, the Moon holds many fascinating mysteries for scientists to explore. 

On February 6, music will be provided by the Arlington High School Jazz Machine. “Conquering Lyme Disease: Solutions through Science” will be the topic of the talk by Brian Fallon, MD, director of the Lyme & Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center. He will review recent scientific advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention that will help to stem the tide of this most challenging disease.

The final program on February 13 gets underway with a performance by the Arlington High School Philharmonia. Dr. Daniel Ksepka, curator at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, will then deliver “March of the Penguins: New Discoveries from the Southern Hemisphere.” The fossil record reveals many unexpected surprises in the history of these remarkable birds: “giant” species (more than a foot taller than living emperor penguins), spear-billed species with long pointed beaks, “svelte” long-flippered species and even penguins with red and grey feathers. Today, penguins have reached what appears to be their lowest historical point in species diversity, reinforcing conservation concerns for imperiled populations.

Learn more about the Science in Your Life Lecture Series at

Science in Your Life lecture series, Wednesday, Jan. 30, Feb. 6 & 13, 7:30 p.m. music, 8:15 p.m. lecture, Free, Our Lady of Lourdes High School, 131 Boardman Rd., Poughkeepsie,