Celebrate National Astronomy Day at Olin Observatory

The Connecticut College Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics — together with the Thames Amateur Astronomical Society — will host a celebration of National Astronomy Day on Saturday, April 25, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. in the Olin Observatory and Science Center.

Participants will enjoy binocular and telescopic views of the moon, the gas-giant Jupiter, the beautiful Great Nebula in Orion and other heavenly objects. And they’ll have several opportunities to hear from guest speakers, including:

  • R. M. "Max " Maxwell, an avid amateur astronomer and longtime member of the Thames Amateur Astronomical Society, will explain “How to Use a Star Wheel” at 7:45 p.m. and again at 8:45 p.m. The star wheel is a simple tool that helps you see what stars are up in your night sky. After this presentation, if it is clear, there will be star and constellations tours so you can practice your sky navigation.
  • Lorraine Allen, professor of physics at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, who will discuss “The Sun's Dynamic Magnetic Field” at 7:45 p.m. and again at 9:15 p.m.
  • Leslie Brown, associate professor of physics and astronomy, will deliver “First Contact! Pluto,” a special talk on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, at 8:30 p.m. and again at 9:20 p.m.

“We’re very excited about this spring’s program because the weather is warming up and casual observing of the wonders of the night sky is much more pleasant now compared to the winter months,” said Brown. “And the New Horizon’s mission is just now starting to send back new data and detailed images of Pluto which, in the coming months, will undoubtedly revolutionize our thinking about this distant member of our solar system.”

Throughout the evening, there will be hands-on astronomy activities for the kids and computer demonstrations of astronomy software. Experts will be available to answer questions about astronomy, telescopes and telescope equipment.

The event is free and open to the public. It will proceed as scheduled regardless of clouds or rain, although stars and planets may not be visible in poor weather.

For more information, contact Brown at 860-439-2345.

April 17, 2015