In Washington, DC, on Friday, June 6, from 6-11 p.m. visitors to the nation’s capital will be able to look to the skies with telescopes providing views of the of Sun, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars as part of the Fifth Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall. The event, sponsored by Hofstra University, will feature telescopic viewing, exhibits, hands-on activities, a multimedia presentation, and a chance to mingle with astronomers.
This free public stargazing is organized by Dr. Donald Lubowich, Coordinator of Astronomy Outreach at Hofstra University. Dr. Lubowich and local amateur astronomers will set up 20 telescopes on the Mall. Starting at 6 p.m., visitors will be able to view sunspots with the help of specially filtered telescopes. After dusk and until 11 p.m. the telescopes will provide close-up views of the Moon, Saturn with its beautiful rings, Jupiter and its moons, Mars, colorful double stars, and star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet. Free planetarium programs, Journey to the Stars (narrated by Whoopie Goldberg) and Cosmic Collisions (narrated by Robert Redford) will be shown. A 4-inch computerized telescope, donated by Celestron, will be raffled off.
Performance artists will give visitors the chance to meet famous historical astronomers. Caroline Herschel (played by K. Lynn King) was the first female astronomer credited with discovering many comets. Visitors will also get to meet the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (Dean Howarth) and his colleague, the German scientist Johannes Kepler (Jeff Jones), best known for his discovery of three laws of planetary motion.
“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.”
Representatives from some of the nation’s foremost scientific institutions will be on hand to present exciting demonstrations and activities and to answer questions about the latest astronomical discoveries and careers in science. Participating institutions include: George Mason University, George Washington University, the Hubble Space Telescopes, the International Dark-Sky Association, Montgomery College, the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the National Science Foundation, Pennsylvania State University, the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers, and the US Naval Observatory.
Close public parking is available for a fee at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center Building, entrance on 14th Street just 1/4 block North of Constitution Avenue, from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m.
For more information, visit hofstra.edu/dcstars.
Other events run by Dr. Lubowich are Hofstra’s 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.