Public Domain

Often in science, people don’t get credit for the work they do which – eventually – leads to a breakthrough.  Wisconsin native Henrietta Swan Leavitt actually made a significant breakthrough a century ago, and in so doing, fundamentally changed how we understand the size of the universe.

But it’s only comparatively recently that her contributions are being recognized outside the astronomy world.  Her work is the subject of our monthly conversation with astronomy contributor Jean Creighton.

NASA / Handout / Getty Images

Pluto was in the headlines a few years ago when it was demoted from official planetary status to what many now refer to as a dwarf planet.  Some still haven’t accepted that demotion.

But regardless of where you come down on the debate, the recent pictures sent back from Pluto were breathtaking.  It’s the furthest place humans have ever sent a mission with such a close pass-by. Our astronomy contributor Jean Creighton explains more about the planet and what’s next for our understanding of it:

Scientists have caught Mars crying salty tears.

Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show dark streaks flowing down Martian slopes. The streaks appear in sunny spots or when the weather is warm, and they fade when the temperature drops.


If you hear the phrase “solve for x,” and break into hives, don't fear. Jean Creighton joins Lake Effect every month to talk astronomy, but nearly everything she does is based on mathematics.

"Math can resemble in some ways another language, but we can master it to some extent. At least enough to communicate what we need," Creighton says.

She further explains how math and astronomy are interconnected:

Juraj Tóth, via Wikimedia Commons

From how we drive our cars to how we watch TV and read the newspaper, the digital revolution has affected much in our lives. The changes have been especially profound for scientific research.

Jean Creighton, director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee, talks with Lake Effect's Bonnie North the impact this has had on astronomy research.

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Every month, Lake Effect's Bonnie North chats with the director of UWM’s Manfred Olson Planetarium, Jean Creighton. From viewing constellations to what it takes to land on a comet to exoplanets, they've talked about a wide range of astronomical topics.

Rather than taking place in the studio, this month's AstroChat segment was recorded at the planetarium in front of an audience of WUWM listeners.

Creighton shared her experience of traveling to the Stratosphere, spending 20 hours there to observe young and middle aged stars with an infrared telescope.


Every month, we travel the stars with our astronomy contributor Jean Creighton. Creighton is the director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium on the campus of UW-Milwaukee.

We’ve talked about everything from visible constellations to exoplanets to landing a probe on a comet. Now that it's summer, we are talking about light - star light, infrared light.

Boswell Books

For those wanting to learn more about our planet and those surrounding us, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago has been a go-to spot. The Manfred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee is a great place to go when it’s not dark enough to see the night sky, or if you’d like to learn more about what you’re seeing.

But it’s not the only planetarium in Wisconsin.  In the tiny town of Monico there’s a unique planetarium created by a unique man. It’s the Kovac Planetarium and it is the creation of  Frank Kovac, Junior.

H. Raab / Flickr

For the last few months, Lake Effect's astronomy contributor has talked about how the things in the night sky came to be. As the weather warms up, it's time to tell a simpler story.

It’s the time of year that it’s really pretty comfortable to just go out and look up into the night sky.

Lake Effect astronomy contributor, and director of the Mandred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee, Jean Creighton describes some of the constellations in the night sky as May changes over to June:

Marjan Lazarevski / Flickr

Lately, Lake Effect has been talking with astronomy contributor Jean Creighton about how things form in the universe – things such as stars.

This month, the focus is a little closer to home, or maybe a lot closer to home. How do planets, like our own, come to be? Lake Effect astronomy contributor Jean Creighton is the director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium, and she explains that stars come before planets: