RR Lyrae Stars, Metal-Poor Stars and the Galaxy

January 23-25, 2011,
Carnegie Observatories,
813 Santa Barbara Street, Pasadena, California, USA

Notice: we are nearing the capacity of the lecture theatre. Interested participants should register before all the spaces are filled.

Extended deadline for poster abstract submission is January 8, 2011
Deadline for hotel reservation at the group rate is January 8, 2011


In 1959 George Worrall Preston, III, completed his PhD thesis on "A Spectroscopic Study of the RR Lyrae Stars", where he introduced the Delta-S method to the world and showed that RR Lyrae do not all have the same metal content. At that time the idea that some stars were metal-poor was a relatively new concept (Chamberlain and Aller 1951), which drew skepticism from a number of prominent stellar spectroscopists. George's work on the RR Lyrae stars made it very difficult to explain spectral differences as due to temperature alone; metal content must also play a role. Thus, George's RR Lyrae work enabled the study of distance and composition, crucial for understanding the Galaxy, and was an important step toward current ideas in chemical evolution.

In the 1980s George Preston and Stephen Shectman began a project to find the most metal-poor stars in the Galaxy. After inspecting more than a million stars on Schmidt objective prism plates, following them up with low resolution, and finally, high resolution spectroscopy, George and Shec found a sample of extremely metal-poor stars, down to 1/10,000 of the solar metallicity. This sample of stars provides a fossil record of the earliest phase of chemical enrichment in the Galaxy. The work has had profound impacts on nucleosynthesis and chemical evolution and has revived the field of high resolution stellar abundance analysis.

Recently, George has returned to the field of RR Lyrae research. In particular, he has used the echelle spectrograph, on the duPont 100-inch telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, in a novel project to follow the changes in the high resolution spectral features of a number of RR Lyrae stars with a cadence of a few minutes. This is a new way of looking at RR Lyrae stars, and will clearly play an important role in future understanding

George's impact on astronomy goes beyond his scientific papers. Those that know him are aware of his ebullient personality. He is great to work with and he makes work fun. His advice on astronomy is just that: to have fun.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, and given his scientific contributions over the years, it is appropriate that we celebrate George. That is the main motivation for this conference. However, recent advances in RR Lyrae research now coming from satellite data provide a compelling scientific reason to review this field with a conference, and work on metal-poor stars continues to be at the forefront of astronomical and nuclear physics research.

Due to limited seating in the Carnegie Observatories Lecture theater we advise those interested in attending to register early.