Fiske Planetarium and Sommers-Bausch Observatory will celebrate National Astronomy Day on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus on Saturday, April 12, with an array of hands-on family-oriented activities.
Most of the educational events will run from noon to 7 p.m., with some continuing through 10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Astronomy Day is intended to bring astronomy to the public and is an annual event celebrated at planetariums, observatories and astronomy clubs around the world, according to Suzanne Traub-Metlay, education programs manager at Fiske Planetarium.
The actual date of National Astronomy Day is May 10, which is after CU-Boulder commencement. The campus is celebrating the event at an earlier date to allow CU students to participate.
Throughout the day April 12, observatory staff members will be available to talk about optics, light and color, spectroscopy and other astronomy topics. Beginning at 8 p.m., visitors will be able to view the night sky with observatory telescopes, weather permitting, according to Keith Gleason, manager of CU's Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Members of the Boulder Astronomy and Space Society will be at the observatory to discuss astronomy with visitors throughout the day.
The planetarium will host live star talks, a visual tour of Hubble Space Telescope images set to music and other activities. The Planetary Society, Secure World Foundation and Students for the Exploration and Development of Space will have information booths at Fiske Planetarium. Visitors will be able to purchase food from vendors on the lawn outside the planetarium.
The planetarium also will host several activities tied to "Rocket Boys," the Homer Hickam memoir featured by "One Book One Boulder County." CU-Boulder's Science Discovery staff will lead balloon-rocket launches hourly between noon and 4 p.m. At 4 p.m., author Mike Moore will read from his book "Twilight War," and will introduce a free showing of the movie "October Sky" at 5 p.m. in the planetarium.
National Astronomy Day is co-sponsored by Astronomy magazine and Meade Telescopes, who are donating prizes including an 80 mm computerized telescope. The drawing to win the telescope will be held at 8 p.m. in the planetarium during a free live concert by Boulder artists mindSpiral.
Fiske Planetarium and Sommers-Bausch Observatory are located on Regent Drive at Kittridge Loop Drive on the CU-Boulder campus. For more information call 303-492-5002 or visit fiske.colorado.edu or cosmos.colorado.edu/.