WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Astronomy Days returns to Museum of Natural Sciences

Posted January 23

Learn more about icy visitors like C/2002 V1 (NEAT), seen here taken in an image taken by a 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz. in May 2004. (credit: NASA)

Astronomy Days returns to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences this weekend. This two-day event is free and fun for the whole family whether you are a seasoned amateur astronomy or just curious about the night sky. 

This year’s theme is comets. For the younger explorers, there will be face painting and a chance to meet the (real) animals of the constellations.

Kids of all ages will enjoy making and launching their own bottle rockets and visiting dozens of exhibits hosted by area astronomy clubs, university physics departments, and more. 

A variety of speakers from area museums, universities and NASA representatives will be giving talks throughout the weekend. Subjects cover everything from the search for planets outside our solar system, to human missions to Mars, to the ever-popular question: “Is Pluto a Planet?” and much more. 

Dr. Rachel Smith, the museum's director for Astronomy & Astrophysics, will share a fascinating talk on life in our Solar System and beyond. Assistant Director Dr. Patrick Treuthardt will share his research into galaxies.

I’ll be kicking things off Saturday morning in the WRAL Auditorium with an overview of comets and near-earth objects. I’ll also have other talks throughout the weekend on the weather conditions throughout our solar system and a preview of NASA and other agency missions coming in 2014. 

Former Cosmonaut Candidate, Dr. Yuri Karash, will join us to share his experiences and bring us up to date on the current state of the Russian Space program. There will be a number of workshops for all levels.

If you are interested in astronomy but don't know where to start there are workshops aimed at adults and families. There will also be workshops for young people who aren’t quite sure if they are cut out to be engineers or scientists (hint: you are). 

Experienced amateur astronomers can learn how to get involved in astro-imaging.

Be sure to send your results to Mike Maze, he’s always looking for aMazing photos to feature on the WRAL News at 5pm. 

More information on Astronomy Days and a complete schedule is available on the museum website. Follow @AstronomyDays on Twitter for the latest updates.

Tony Rice is a volunteer in the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador program and software engineer at Cisco Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @rtphokie.

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