Friday, November 18, 2011

Mystery of the Christmas Star

The John C. Wells Planetarium at JMU and the JMU Department of Physics and Astronomy are pleased to present a special full-dome planetarium movie entitled "Mystery of the Christmas Star" beginning THIS FRIDAY & SATURDAY evenings at 7pm! This movie allows audiences to journey back 2000 years to Bethlehem in pursuit of a scientific explanation of the star the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus. This modern retelling of the Christmas story is sure to charm and captivate audiences of all ages. All shows are free and seats are first-come, first-seated! Each performance will be followed by a live star talk featuring the Harrisonburg night sky.

The John C. Wells Planetarium is located in Room 1103 of Miller Hall.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Astronomy at the Market II

If you missed Team Awestronomy at Harrisonburg's Farmers Market last Saturday... you missed another good show (wondering about our debut? it's been immortalized here)! The team had a rain (snow) check appearance for the event scheduled for October 29th, when the weather was just impossible for any solar view or relaxing conversations about the Sun, Galaxies, Binary Stars, Big Bang, the History of Astronomy, you name it, only it has to be astro-wise...

On November 5th, the day was gloriously sunny, and the expected (and existing) cold temperatures did not seem to bother anybody eager to watch the Sun in action and understand its whereabouts. And it paid off: there were three quite obvious flares a the edge of the solar circle, and two other little bunches (sunspots come in pairs, usually) smack in the middle, very clearly spotted with the ... sunspotter.

Witness the team in action:

Do you know why the team was there last Saturday, and will be there again next semester (planned for every last Saturday of the month, weather permitting)? Read this, they confessed:

Emil Christensen: The reason I wake up at eight AM on some of my Saturdays is for science. It may sound corny, but it is true nonetheless. I have a lot of fun with the team taking astronomy to the market. There is a great sense of camaraderie in our group, and it makes it that more of an enjoyable experience. Also, it gives me a chance to share what I know, and hey, who would't want to play with liquid nitrogen.

Anthony Saikin: My reasons for doing this:
-Its not everyday that you see a group of people out with a telescope, It truly sets a person's day apart from others.
-The public usually isn't that Astro-literate. It's nice to educate the public.
-The conversations wi
th people. Those who stop by often are interested in what we are doing there and sometimes the conversation will stray from Astronomy into some local science education issue, and how more opportunities for science education should be available.
-Its fun. Especially making Edible Comets, and serving them to people.

Jimmy Corcoran: I enjoy bringing Astronomy to the Farmer's Market because it's a great way to share and spread scientific knowledge within the Harrisonburg area. It surprises me everytime how many people, of every age, show their interest in science when given the opportunity.

Nathan DiDomenico: Science’s positive effects on society are numerous and sizeable. Along with other parts of our culture such as politics and fine art, science has sculpted our civilization into what it is today. Artists and politicians often have large groups of fans that they rely on for success , but the public seems removed from the process scientific discovery and therefore many feel apathetic towards the field of science. This cannot be allowed because progress in the scientific pursuits also relies heavily on how many fans it has. You don’t have to be a scientist to be a fan of science; you only need to recognize the benefits and beauty of scientific curiosity and discovery. The reason I am happy to bring astronomy to the market is because astronomy is a very astounding and wonderful field in science and I think that by talking about it with people I can play a small role in creating more fans of science.

Kyle Eskridge: Astronomy at the market is a good opportunity to get the community excited about astronomy and science in general. It is particularly good to get children excited about science because it may inspire them to one day become scientists or engineers which we could always use more of.

Thanks everyone for the smart questions and comments on how science fills up your everyday lives!