On April 24, Haverford’s Public Observing Astronomy Program proudly hosted the an Astronomy Night in as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival. Over 200 guests packed into the Strawbridge Observatory and adjacent fields for a variety of astronomy-related activities.
Before sunset, two Haverford students led Solar System Walk, scaled down so the sun was the size of a basketball. The tour illustrated the vast expanse of our solar system; the group proceeded across the athletic fields without reaching outermost planets.
Inside, younger guests built their own mobiles, while others mastered four levels of astronomy trivia. Older visitors participated in virtual observing through Observing With NASA (mo-www.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/OWN/Own.pl) and were excited to look at images from anything up in the sky that night. A cloud chamber demonstration helped visitors visualize the paths of high energy particles in the upper atmosphere. Another creative demo utilized marbles and fabric to illustrate Einstein’s Theory of general relativity.
After sunset, groups of visitors went upstairs to observe the clear sky through the two telescopes housed in the domes of the Strawbridge Observatory. The telescopes were popular, as guests observed Jupiter (with its Great Red Spot and some of its moons!), Mars, and the moon, to name a few.
Visitors and volunteers shared many smiles and looks of wonder throughout the evening, as the exchange of science and the intrigue of astronomy captivated many minds (both young and not-so-young). We thank all of our guests for a successful year of astronomy events and we hope to see you return for more events next fall!