Astronomy Night on the National Mall

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Sunset. Everything is ready, just waiting for the dark side The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in cooperation with Hofstra University, organized yesterday an open and free star party, on the National Mall, in Washington, DC. This event is actually part of a bigger initiative to bring people to the telescopes while listening to music, called "Music and Astronomy Under the Stars". On Flickr you can see some of the pictures I made.

The moment I knew about it, I contacted them and offered my help. NASA Goddard was also very kind to provide me with some EPO material to give away (DVDs, stickers, and 3D postcards, people love the these postcards). Thanks!

There were like 20 telescopes, of all sizes, and a screen where they projected a video an music to create a magic combination. Being at the Mall, it wasn´t surprising to see many runners or by walkers stopping and staying, with a big smile, to see the stars, the Moon or Saturn.

Saturn. Seeing Saturn for the first time is a good example of the effects of Astronomy outreach. You cannot contain some degree of excitement or joy, specially kids. You most probably know what you are going to see, you have seen it many many times. The planet with the rings, the one on the right. It should not take you by surprise. Moreover, when using the telescope, it will most probably be smaller than you thought. But it doesn´t matter. Once you see it, you are trapped on its beauty and, more magically, on its significance. There it is, a whole giant planet, not a picture from Hubble, not a video, not a drawing or a speech, this is the real thing. You are looking at a huge planet, a live image... I am always glad to attend Star Parties.

So, ask your friends: who hasn´t seen Saturn yet?. Bring them to a telescope, put some music like these guys are doing for extra points, and show them the planet. While they are looking, tell them some words about it. There you go. Look at their face, that is the drive for science.

Update: Phillip Larson, from the OSTP contacted me to add my pics to the White House Blog. Their tweet also announced it. I am glad, and proud, to help  them. Anytime OSTP!.

Update 2: IYA2009 secretariat asked me tow rite a short report. Here it is:

Kids using the Galileo replica

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