If you're always looking to the stars, you'll want to mark your calendars for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences' Astronomy Days later this month.
The free event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29. The weekend features special guests, presentations and lots of hands-on activities designed for all ages.
Some highlights, according to a press release ...
- Special guests this year include Kuiper Belt discoverer Dave Jewitt. Jewitt was awarded the Kavli Prize in astrophysics and the Shaw Prize in astronomy - second in prestige only to the Nobel Prize. The Kuiper Belt is a doughnut of icy bodies orbiting beyond Neptune. Confirming the belt's existence revolutionized scientists’ view of Earth’s neighborhood, leading to Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet and helping astronomers reconstruct the solar system’s turbulent early history. Jewitt will discuss the “Effect of the Sun on Earth,” at 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, and 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29.
- Solar eclipse expert Jay Pasachoff, a Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College and the author of textbooks and tradebooks in astronomy, physics, mathematics and other sciences, also will be there. He will present a talk on “This August 21st Solar Eclipse” and identify the best places to see it in North Carolina, as well as show photos of past eclipses, at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 29.
- NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Marc Fusco will take a humorous look at the good and bad science in recent space movies.
- Aspiring rocketeers can gaze at the 40-foot working models of the Tripoli Rocketry Association.
- Sun worshipers can peer at the Sun (safely) through solar telescopes provided by the Raleigh Astronomy Club.
- All visitors can make and blast off their own bottle rocket on the Museum plaza, meet live animals of the constellations (like the bearded dragon, which represents the constellation Draco), find out how much they weigh on different moons and planets, or don an astronaut outfit and have their picture taken with Cary Space Innovation and Design Camp.
The museum's website has the full schedule. Just across the plaza from the natural sciences museum, the N.C. Museum of History's annual African American Cultural Festival also is on Jan. 28, so visitors can pop between the two.