Astronomy Days 2015

Posted in Outreach on January 26, 2015 – 8:27 PM
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This past weekend was the annual Astronomy Days event at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the Nature Research center. This annual event is one of my favorites and I volunteer throughout the weekend. It’s a chance for everyone to interact with astronomy on many levels. I’m fortunate to be part of such a great club, the Raleigh Astronomy Club, which anchors the event. The event drew over 14,600 people and featured exhibits by NASA and JPL, unversity science departments, as well as many other organizations showing off everything from meteorites to rockets. There were craft projects and lots of hands on activities. Congratulations to everyone involved, a special thanks to all the museum volunteers who really make the event successful.

Here, my son does some Solar Observing during a break on Sunday.
Solar Observing

The Raleigh Astro club ran about 11 exhibits including exoplanets, telescopes on display, scale of the universe, solar observing, “age, weight, and jumping on other planets”, astrophotography and others. I also served as “Ask the Astronomer” for a good part of the weekend which allowed me to share some pictures I had taken and give people information about the club and our upcoming events. Astronomy definitely gets people’s imagination going and looking through a telescope seems to be a very special and memorable experience. And I have a message for the International Astronomical Union (IAU)… Even after about 9 years, there is still outrage over Pluto’s demotion. I fielded many questions about Pluto’s designation. I was stumped a few times, but particularly memorable was someone asking about Milankovitch Cycles had me scratching my head – I had never heard of this before.

Throughout the weekend there were many talks. The featured speaker was Andrew Feustel, a NASA astronaut with many hours of spacewalking experience. There were many other talks, including excitement from a scientist on the New Horizons mission, which is approaching Pluto for a July flyby. A club member, a professional astrophysicist, gave a popular talk on black holes. I presented on “Types of Telescopes” and “Astronomical Spectroscopy.” Perhaps I need to simplify the message a bit, but I know a few people in each talk who were helped or interested and wanted to know more.

My son, Jack, was with me the entire weekend this year. He helped around at a number of stations, and even filled in as the resident astronomer for a bit.
Jack the Astronomer

As always, it was a great event. I really enjoying seeing kids, young and old, take an interest in the world around them… and beyond.

This entry was written by matted, filed under Outreach.
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