ECU faculty inspire science on National Mall

Summers are warm but certainly not lazy for ECU faculty. Many ECU Faculty use this time as an opportunity to reach beyond the campus and inspire and excite people of all ages in learning and doing science.

In Washington D.C. the annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall, hosted by Hofstra University and funded by NASA through the Music and Astronomy Under the Stars program is one such opportunity that engages an estimated 10,000 people.

Dr. Sharon Schleigh, faculty member in the Department of Mathematics, Science & Instructional Technology Education (MSITE) was invited to join a group of astronomers from the nation’s foremost scientific institutions, organizations and universities to present exciting demonstrations and answer questions about the latest astronomical discoveries or careers in science.

The annual event begins during the daylight hours by engaging visitors to the National Mall in hands-on astronomy activities, demonstrations and presentations. Visitors have opportunities to use solar telescopes, watch planetarium shows, and ask astronomers questions about topics of interest and possible career choices. Visitors continue to join the event late into the evening and as the day progresses to night, astronomers set up a variety of large telescopes across the Washington D.C. National Mall to allow participants to view local objects in the night sky such the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and spectacular objects such as colorful double stars, star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet, and some favorite nebulae such as Orion Nebula, the Ring Nebula and the Dumbbell Nebula.

“Bringing astronomy 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 captures the imagination, no matter how old you are.”

Participating Science Organizations: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Physics Teachers, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Carnegie Institution for Science, Celestial Chart, Center of Physics & Astronomy Education Research, E-planetarium/Discovery Dome, International Dark Sky Association, NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center, Lunar and Planetary Institute, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, National Science Foundation, Naval Research Laboratory, #Popscope, Society of Physics Students, Space Telescope Science Institute, US Naval Observatory, and the Washington Area Astronomy Meetup.

Participating Colleges and Universities: American University, Catholic University of American, East Carolina University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Montgomery College, Rice University.

Participating Astronomy clubs and related organizations: Amateur Observers’ Society of New York, Astronomical Association of Greenbelt, Goddard Astronomy Club, National Capital Astronomers, Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, Rappahannock Astronomy Club, and the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers.

Organizations that have supported the AFNM to spread the word to their members and the public via social media include: the American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Astronomers Without Borders, Astronomical League, Astronomical Society of the Pacific/Night Sky Network, Astronomy Magazine, National Academies of Science, Marian Koshland Science Museum, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, National Science Teachers Association, Nerd Nite DC, Sky and Telescope Magazine, Sidewalk Astronomers, Society for Science & the Public.