Astronomy Days launches this weekend at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh and will feature Christina Hammock Koch, a North Carolina native who is one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class.
The two-day event is a collaboration with NASA and the Raleigh Astronomy Club. The free event runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, at the Raleigh museum.
Koch is a graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham and N.C. State University, where she earned bachelor's and master's degrees. She also graduated from the NASA Academy program at Goddard Space Flight Center in 2001, and has spent more than 10 years gaining experience both in space science instrument development and remote scientific field engineering, according to the museum's website. In June 2013, Koch was selected as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class and recently completed astronaut candidate training. She will speak at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Saturday, and 2 p.m., Sunday, at the museum's theater.
Also part of the weekend: Senior astronomer and director of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute Dr. Seth Shostak will talk about his efforts to search for aliens. He will speak at 3 p.m., Saturday, and 3:30 p.m., Sunday.
Astronomy Days includes other hands-on activities, demonstrations and displays that focus on space and astronomy. For instance, visitors can peer through solar telescopes to see the sun (safely) and make a bottle rocket to blast off on the museum plaza.