July 31, 2013 8:16 pm

Report from Astronomy Night at SpaceFest 2013

Cosmic Community inspiring kids at Spacefest

Inspiring the next generation to keep looking up. Photo Credit: Stacey David Severn.

Today’s guest post comes from StarTalk Radio Social Media Coordinator Stacey Severn. Along with her organization, the Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society, Stacey and other StarTalk Radio Cosmic Community members set up telescopes for public viewing during Astronomy Night at Spacefest 2013 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in NYC on Saturday, July 27th.

StarTalk’s Cosmic Community is really taking off! The aim of our evolving group of academic and scientific organizations, programming groups, schools and astronomy clubs is to promote excitement and interest in STEM education – and we did so with flying colors over this past weekend!

The Intrepid Museum’s NYC SpaceFest included the re-opening of the Space Shuttle Enterprise Pavilion, along with many special activities, exhibits, and astronaut guests. Cosmic Community member organizations were well-represented throughout the festivities. The Challenger Learning Center of Ramapo, NY made presentations for the educational workshops, and several astronomy organizations and sidewalk astronomers from the tri-state area joined together with their telescopes for an evening of public observing alongside the Hudson River on Pier 86, just under the Concorde.

Photo of Stargazers, with the tail of the Concorde overhead.

Stargazers in the foreground, with the tail of the Concorde overhead. Photo Credit: Navid Baraty.

Participating from the Cosmic Community were members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of NY, Sidewalk Astronomers of New Haven, Jupiter Joe’s Sidewalk Astronomy, the Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society, and Sidewalk Astronomy of NYC.

Sidewalk Astronomer Jupiter Joe and Navid Baraty at SpaceFest 2013. Photo credit: Stacey David Severn.

Jupiter Joe and Navid Baraty. Photo credit: Stacey David Severn.

When the gates opened, we were swarmed by a few hundred curious guests, eager to view the night sky. As the Circle Line party boats, kayakers, and sailboats passed by, Venus treated our guests to stunning views. We fielded lots of great questions about astronomy, the cosmos, and our equipment. The sky began to dim, and Saturn stole the show for the evening. Providing many people with their first view through a telescope, along with hearing the delight of children and adults at seeing Saturn’s rings and moons for the first time, is always exciting and fulfilling. And despite the bright New York City skies, some members were able to share views of dimmer objects, including star clusters, nebulas, and double stars, against the backdrop of the Intrepid and the twinkling city skyline.

It’s this type of public outreach that excites us, as both educators and observers, and we are grateful to Patrick Gormley and the Intrepid Museum for providing us with this opportunity to promote science education.

The awesomeness of the night was epitomized by the following words. When asked by a guest if we could show them the moon, one of our members responded, “We would have to wait till well past 11:30 for the moon to clear the tail of the Concorde.”  Seriously, when else do you get to say that?

Photo of StarTalk Radio Cosmic Community saying Live Long and Prosper.

Live Long and Prosper: The StarTalk Radio Cosmic Community. Photo Credit: Navid Baraty.

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