Jo Cline Memorial Astronomy Lecture

The Cline Observatory Jo Cline Memorial Astronomy Day Lecture featuring a prominent researcher in astronomy, astrophysics, or planetary science. The lecture is held each fall in Koury Auditorium at GTCC’s Jamestown Campus – it is free and open to the public.

First Pictures of a Black Hole! Imaging a Black Hole with the Event Horizon Telescope

Virtual Lecture, Friday 24 September, 7:30 p.m., by Dr. Sheperd S. Doeleman (Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/Event Horizon Telescope)
black hole in M87 galaxy
The polarized view of the black hole in M87.
The lines mark the orientation of polarization,
which is related to the magnetic field around
the shadow of the black hole.
Credit: EHT Collaboration

Black holes are cosmic objects so small and dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull. Until recently, no one had ever seen what a black hole actually looked like.  Einstein's theories predict that a distant observer should see a ring of light encircling the black hole that forms when radiation emitted by infalling hot gas is lensed by the extreme gravity near the event horizon.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a global array of radio dishes linked together by a network of atomic clocks to form an Earth-sized virtual telescope that can resolve the nearest supermassive black holes where this ring feature may be measured. On April 10, 2019, the EHT project reported success: "We have imaged a black hole, and have seen the predicted strong gravitational lensing that confirms the theory of General Relativity at the boundary of a black hole." This talk will cover how this was accomplished, details of the first results, as well as future directions that will enable real-time black hole movies.

Shep Doeleman is founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, a synchronized global array of radio dishes that achieves the highest angular resolution possible from the surface of the Earth. He led the international EHT team that recently succeeded in making the first image of a black hole.

Doeleman received his bachelor's from Reed College, then spent a year in Antarctica conducting space-science experiments at McMurdo Station on the Ross Ice Shelf. He completed a Ph.D. in astrophysics at MIT, then joined the MIT Haystack Observatory where he developed a research program of millimeter/submillimeter-wavelength interferometry and carried out observations that detected the first event horizon scale structures in supermassive black holes.

After serving as the observatory's assistant director, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012 and moved to the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian that same year. He is a Harvard University Senior Research Fellow and co-founded Harvard's Black Hole Initiative – the first center dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of black holes. He received the Lancelot M. Berkeley Prize and the Bruno Rossi Prize from the American Astronomical Society for his EHT work. He now leads the next-generation EHT project supported by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Visit the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) website.

The Jo Cline Memorial Astronomy Day Lecture is made possible, in part, by an endowment established by Don Cline in September 2015 with an initial funding goal of $50,000. Interest from the endowment provides annual ongoing support of the Jo Cline Fall Astronomy Lecture Series. Cline will match, dollar for dollar, contributions made to this fund until our goal is reached. Please consider honoring Jo’s memory by contributing to the fund. For information about, and donations to, the Jo Cline Endowment, visit our Support the Observatory page.

North Carolina Astronomers’ Meeting (NCAM)

Cline Observatory also hosts the annual technical meeting of North Carolina astronomers in association with Fall Astronomy Day. This event is open to professional astronomers and their students, and is not an open public event. The 2021 edition of NCAM will be Saturday, 25 Sept.

Past Lectures


No Lecture held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic


Cathy Olkin, SWRI, "Exploring the Outer Reaches of Our Solar System"


Gabriela González, LSU/LIGO, “Einstein, Gravitational Waves, Black Holes, and Other Matters


John Mather, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, “The History of the Universe from the Beginning to the End: Where Did We Come From, Where Can We Go?”


David Charbonneau, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “How to Find an Inhabited Exoplanet”


Sean Solomon, Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute, and Principal Investigator for the Mercury MESSENGER Mission, “The MESSENGER Spacecraft Mission to Mercury: Surprises from the Innermost Planet”


Jocelyn Bell Burnell, University of Oxford, “The Last and Next 100 Years in Astronomy“


Don Winget, University of Texas at Austin, “Small Stars in a Large Context:  All Things White Dwarf”


Bob Benjamin, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, “A Visitor’s Guide to the Milky Way Galaxy


Francis Halzen, University of Wisconsin-Madison / IceCube, “Ice Fishing for Neutrinos


Giovanni Fazio, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics / Spitzer, “Viewing the Universe with Infrared Eyes:  the Spitzer Space Telescope


Hal Levison, Southwest Research Institute, “What Planets Are and How they Form


Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard / Swift Mission, “Black Holes:  From Einstein to Gamma Ray Bursts


Michael Turner, University of Chicago, “The Dark Side of the Universe


Scott Ransom, NRAO-Charlottesville, “The Stellar Undead


Jeff Hester, Arizona State University, “From the Big Bang to Big Brains:  the Evolution of Structure in the Universe


Paul Butler, Carnegie Institute, “Extrasolar Planets:  a First Reconnaissance


Prasun Desai, NASA Langley, “Mars Exploration in the Coming Decade


Steve Murray, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics / Chandra, “X-ray Astronomy Comes of Age:  the Chandra x-ray Observatory View of the Cosmos


Jay Bergstralh, NASA Langley, “The Galilean Satellites of Jupiter


Virginia Trimble, Univ. Cal-Irvine / Univ. Maryland, “Cosmology:  Man’s Place in the Universe


Robert Kirshner, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “The Universe:  Big, Old, and Accelerating


John Wood, NASA Goddard, “Resolution:  Latest Results from the Hubble Space Telescope


Bruce Carney, UNC-Chapel Hill, “How Old is Our Universe?