RR Lyrae Stars, Metal-Poor Stars and the Galaxy
January 23-25, 2011,
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
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
Due to limited seating in the Carnegie Observatories Lecture theater
we advise those interested in attending to register early.