Last week, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum welcomed a very unusual guest (who will be staying quite a while): the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The Intrepid, which is located on the Hudson River in New York City, will be the Enterprise's new home now that the Shuttle program has officially ended.
While we usually talk about meetings where astronomers get together, there are also other meetings where all types of scientists meet and exchange ideas. The AAAS meeting is one of them. "AAAS" stands for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and it is the world's largest general scientific society.
Credit: Jonathan McDowell, SAO
This week, a new exhibit opened at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. The "Evolving Universe" exhibit showcases many images from Chandra along with other telescopes and projects that involve the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). This project, which can be found on the second floor of the museum, is a collaboration between these two branches of the Smithsonian, and gives visitors a chance to learn a little bit more about what happens at SAO's Cambridge, MA location. The exhibit will be on display now through January 20, 2012, so don't miss it.
This week, the latest incarnation of the Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP) series of meetings is happening in Beijing, China. There have been several of these meetings around the world – Munich in 2005, Athens in 2007, and Cape Town in 2010. Each of these, with a slightly different twist, have been designed to bring those of us who do astronomy outreach and communication together to discuss best practices, new ideas, emerging trends, etc.
This week, the focus will be to look at the ever-evolving landscape of modern communication and how astronomy can – and should – fit in. We are here talking about some of the latest work we’ve done in what we call “public science”. Like public art, public science strives to engage people in their everyday lives. Instead of having the general public stumble across a piece of artwork, we suggest that unintentionally interacting with science could be surprising, inspiring, and beneficial to any efforts to boost scientific interest and literacy.
And, most importantly, we are here to see old and new colleagues and to learn what else is going on around the world in astronomy communication. It’s great for CAP to be in Asia for the first time, and we are looking forward to an exciting week.
-Megan Watzke, Kim Arcand et al.
This morning, the High Energy Astrophysics Division (aka HEAD) meeting kicks off in Newport, RI. What is this, you might ask? Well, the American Astronomical Society, or AAS, is the country’s largest professional group for astronomers. And because it is so large, they have also created several subdivisions so that scientists of a particular bent can gather to talk about their areas of interest.
Ever since we publicized the "deepest note in the Universe" in 2003, I have admired outreach efforts that combine music and astronomy. These efforts have continued this summer and fall with a program by Don Lubowich, from Hofstra University, who has organised astronomy exhibits to be installed at a large number of music festivals and events. My small role in this program involved displaying images from the "From Earth to the Universe (FETTU)" exhibit on the first day of the Newport Folk Festival at the end of July, added to Don's astronomy banners which also included material from FETTU.
The International Year of Astronomy continues to reach new audiences.
Photographs from the "From Earth to the Universe" (FETTU) gallery have been viewed by people all over the world in a variety of venues since 2009. A tactile version of the FETTU exhibit, based on the book Touch the Invisible Sky by Grice, Steel and Daou, was also created in 2009 so people could explore the multi-wavelength universe non-visually, by touch.
On July 20, 2011 the tactile FETTU exhibition continued on to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. The images were examined by students attending the National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam - an innovative STEM enrichment program for high school students who are blind or have low vision. Noreen Grice was a course instructor for the Youth Slam Space Track and was on-site at the exhibition. She verbally described the color images as students explored the tactile counterparts by touch. The tactile FETTU exhibition will now be on permanent display at the National Federation of the Blind and will hopefully continue to excite a new generation of science enthusiasts.
(Photos by N.Grice)
On the evening of July 9th, as the intense heat of the summer sun on the National Mall faded into a cool breeze and sunlight gave way to a pale waxing gibbous moonlight, crowds quickly gathered at the National Air and Space Museum's public observatory for the 2nd annual Astronomy Night on the National Mall event.
DC area Astronomy Night on the National Mall changed to Saturday July 9, 6-11 PM due to weather!
For those of you in or around the Nation's Capitol this post-July 4th week, be sure to take note of a free event happening in the heart of DC. On July 8th, from 6pm to 11pm, there will be all sorts of astronomy activities - including star gazing if weather permits – on the National Mall between 4th and 7th Streets.
That's the tag line for this year's World Science Festival (WSF), currently ongoing throughout New York City. As with the previous incarnations, this year's WSF will culminate in a big science party in and around Washington Square Park on Sunday, June 5th. Once again, "From Earth to the Universe" (FETTU) will be there to help spread a little bit of the cosmos across the asphalt. FETTU can be found just to the southwest of the big fountain in the middle of the park (see the map). The good folks from NY Skies will be on hand to answer any questions you might have on the images. For those in the NYC area this weekend, try to stop by and enjoy the Big Apple's big show for science.
-Megan Watzke, CXC
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