Wednesday, October 4, 2023

MTSU’s Friday Star Parties: Off to a Stellar Start


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Story by Delaney Rohrs | Contributing Writer

Photos from Middle Tennessee State University

To many, the great mysteries of space will always be just that – mysteries. However, if you are looking to expand your knowledge about some interesting topics, there are still three more special lectures and telescope viewings being held this semester by Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy that may cure your curiosity.  

Dr. Abdi Samarbakhsh

Last Friday, Sep. 1, the department welcomed back their Friday Star Parties for the Fall 2022 semester with a kick-off lecture by Abdorreza “Abdi” SamarBakhsh on the topic of “The Unprecedented Accuracy of Omar Khayyam’s Jalali Calendar.”  

In the hour lecture, SamarBakhsh discussed the the life of Omar Khayyam and his contributions to astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and poetry. 

“As an astronomer, he calculated the duration of the solar year with remarkable precision and accuracy, and designed the Jalali Calendar, which is a solar calendar with a very precise 33-year intercalation cycle,” SamarBakhsh said. “His calendar is far more exact and precise than the Gregorian calendar. We will learn why his calendar is so special and how it compares to several other calendars.” 

SamarBakhsh was not only an extremely knowledgeable lecturer but also notably passionate and charismatic, making a complex subject a pleasant and approachable experience for those who lack a strong background in physics or astronomy. 

“You should always be curious,” he said many times throughout the lecture, advice all in attendance seemed to take away leaving the session.  

The remaining Friday Star Party sessions will include topics such as “Meteorite Scars in Tennessee,” led by assistant professor Jana Ruth Ford on Oct. 7, “Cosmology and the Big Bang,” led by Professor John Wallin on Nov. 4, and a session led by lecturer Irina Perevalova Dec. 2. 

Friday Star Party schedule for 2022

To contact Lifestyles Editor Ethan Pickering, email

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