RIT Astronomer Moonlights as Local Musician

Joel Kastner and his two bands play the Lovin’ Cup, Feb. 12 and March 8

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“Stardust” is a scientific term referring to dust grains that are formed by the cooling gases ejected by stars. It’s also a fitting name for the jazz group led by Rochester Institute of Technology imaging science professor and astronomer Joel Kastner—one of two bands in which he plays lead guitar on a regular basis.

Kastner will play shows with The Powells, an Americana blend of rock, folk and country, from 9 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Feb. 12, and with Stardust from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 8. Both shows are at Lovin’ Cup at RIT’s Park Point on Jefferson Road.

Kastner’s professional life in astronomy is focused on studying star and planet formation, as well as the dying stages of stars like our Sun. One of his goals is finding new ways to discover newly formed planets outside our solar system.

Although he has been playing guitar since his early teens, Kastner chose not to focus on his own star formation—that of rock star. Instead, he followed in the footsteps of his father, a physicist and amateur astronomer. He is now a professor at the Center for Imaging Science at RIT, where he teaches classes in imaging science and astrophysics. He has a degree in physics from University of Maryland and holds a doctorate in astronomy from University of California at Los Angeles.

“Growing up we always had a telescope in the backyard,” he says. “I just found it natural to be studying the stars and trying to further the science.”

Kastner is the author or co-author of more than 80 papers in astronomical literature over the past 10 years. He has served on review panels for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatories.

To learn more about his recent work, visit www.rit.edu/news/?v=46540.

For more information on the venue, visit www.lovincup.com.