Astronomy Night on the National Mall Brings the Universe Down to Earth
Friday June 14, 2013 from 5 – 11 pm, Washington Monument NE, 15th Street and Constitution Ave. (rain/cloud date: June 15th)
Bringing Astronomy to the Public at the Largest Astronomy Event on the National Mall
In Washington, DC, on Friday June 14, guided tours of the Capitol, monuments, and museums will give way to free guided tours of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars as the annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall, sponsored by Hofstra University, takes place from 5 to 11 pm. The astronomical extravaganza will feature optical and radio telescope observations, exhibits, hands-on activities, a multimedia presentation, and a chance to mingle with real astronomers. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held on Saturday, June 15th. Dr. Paul Hertz, Director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA, will describe NASA's astronomy program and answer questions.
This free public stargazing is being organized by Dr. Donald Lubowich, Coordinator of Astronomy Outreach at Hofstra University. Dr. Lubowich also runs Hofstra’s very successful NASA-funded Music and Astronomy Under the Stars program, which takes telescopes to concertgoers on Long Island, New York City, Newport, Rhode Island, at Tanglewood in Massachusetts, and at the Ravinia Music Festival outside Chicago.
“Bringing Hofstra’s program to the National Mall and partnering with astronomical organizations gives us a very special opportunity to encourage children to pursue their interest in science or math and to promote public understanding of science,” said Dr. Lubowich. “Gazing at the rings of Saturn or the Moon’s craters and mountains captures the imagination, no matter how old you are.”
Dr. Lubowich and local volunteers from the National Capital Astronomers, the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, the Astronomical Association of Greenbelt, the Goddard Astronomy Club, Project Jove (radio observations of Jupiter), the Rappahannock Astronomy Club, and the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers and with the assistance of Girl Scout Troop 4816 GSCNC, will set up telescopes and on the Mall, Northeast of the Washington Monument between 15th Street and Constitution Avenue. Starting at 5 pm., visitors will be able to view sunspots with the help of specially filtered telescopes and the Moon. After dusk and until 11 p.m. telescopes will provide close-up views of the first-quarter Moon, Saturn with its beautiful rings, Venus, Mercury, colorful double stars, and star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet. Visitors will get to meet an important figure from scientific history, astronomer Caroline Herschel (portrayed by K. Lynn King), the first modern female astronomer and the sister of William Hershel who discovered Uranus. Free planetarium programs, Journey to the Stars (narrated by Whoopie Goldberg) and Cosmic Collisions (narrated by Robert Redford) will be shown on a large screen. A free NexStar 102SLT Computerized Telescope (4 inch refractor), donated by , will be raffled off.
Representatives from some of the nation’s foremost astronomical and educational institutions will be on hand to present exciting demonstrations and activities and to answer questions about careers in science, celestial objects and events, and the latest astronomical discoveries including: the American Astronomical Society, Astronomy Outreach Foundation, Goddard Space Flight Center, the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (bringing radio astronomy to classrooms), Hubble Space Telescope, International Dark Sky Association, Johns Hopkins University, National Science Foundation Division of Astronomical Sciences, the University of Maryland, and the US Naval Observatory. For more information visit www.hofstra.edu/dcstars.
There is nearby parking for $13.00 from 5 pm until midnight at the Ronald Reagan Building, with an entrance on 14th Street, one-half block north of Constitution Avenue. Metered parking is available after 6 pm.