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Space Place, MMSD plan celebration of 100 Hours of Astronomy

March 31, 2009 By Susannah Brooks

Few areas of science enchant us as much as astronomy. We view the stars each night; we make connections between astronomy and many other scientific fields. Rarely, though, do we get a chance to explore the heavens through organized events.

UW-Madison’s GLIMPSE survey uses the infrared capabilities of the Spitzer Space Telescope to capture astronomical images like this highly active star-forming region of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Photo: courtesy of NASA

This week, scientists and citizens from around the globe join in celebration of planets, black holes and distant galaxies. As part of the worldwide International Year of Astronomy (IYA) and its 100 Hours of Astronomy event, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Space Place and the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) present four days of activities related to the sun, moon and stars. All events are free and welcome participants of all ages.

“Most people are naturally curious about astronomy, so astronomy is a very accessible and enjoyable avenue into science outreach,” says Jim Lattis, director of the UW Space Place. “We want to satisfy that natural curiosity.”

On Thursday and Friday, April 2-3, enjoy observation sessions organized by Geoff Holt and the MMSD Planetarium. Check out stunning views of Saturn and the moon at night; safely observe the late afternoon sun using special glasses and two types of telescopes.

  • Thursday, April 2, 8-9 p.m.: Memorial High School (meet at Gammon Road side of school), 201 S. Gammon Road.
  • Friday, April 3, 4-6 p.m.: Solar observing, Memorial High School.
  • Friday, April 3, 8-9 p.m.: Mount Horeb Intermediate Center (meet in south parking lot), 200 Hanneman Blvd., Mount Horeb.

In the event of cloudy weather, April 2’s event will substitute a free planetarium program, while April 3’s events will not take place. More information will be posted online or via Twitter (@mmsdpltm).

On Saturday and Sunday, April 4-5, the UW Space Place presents two special events.

  • Join presenters in the UW–Madison Stock Pavilion, 1675 Linden Drive, to view extraordinary images from space from noon-4 p.m. on April 4. “From the Earth to the Universe” is part of Science Expeditions.
  • Stop by the Space Place, 2300 S. Park St., for “A Sun Day on Sunday with Sundaes” from 1-3 p.m. on April 5. Use telescopes to view the sun safely while enjoying kids’ activities and make-your-own ice cream sundaes.