/NASA Engineer to Headline International Astronomy Day Programming

NASA Engineer to Headline International Astronomy Day Programming

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Saturday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium at the Museum of Science & History will present activities and programming for International Astronomy Day.
Mechanical engineer Peter Chitko, a 28-year veteran of NASA, will headline the event with a multimedia presentation that documents the path that ultimately resulted in man’s first steps on the moon.  Join Chitko as he presents From Gemini to the Moon: How Did We Get There? at 3 p.m. in the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium.  The presentation, free with museum admission, will  recount the excitement and emotion of the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo missions.  **Please note: Chitko will be available for interviews immediately before and after his presentation.**

Space Songs, a cultural collaboration between MOSH and Players by the Sea, will be presented in the Planetarium at 11 a.m.  And, at 1 p.m., John Anderson, Ph.D., senior physics lecturer at the University of North Florida and member of the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium Advisory Board, will present Are We Alone in the Universe? Dr. Anderson will survey mankind’s attempts to answer the question as he explores how the Kepler Space Telescope contributes to finding the answers.  Both presentations are included with museum admission.

Also in the Planetarium, will be a special engagement of IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System, a program designed for visitors curious about unmanned missions and the nature of the edge of our Solar System at 1 p.m.; Skies Over Jacksonville, a live tour of Jacksonville’s current night sky at 2 p.m.; a sneak preview of Two Small Pieces of Glass, a National Science Foundation production that documents the history of the telescope and its discoveries at 4:30 p.m.; and a Cosmic Concert, Laser Mania, at 5 p.m.  Each program is $5 per person for the first show and $1 per person for each additional show.

Ongoing programming and activities will include a Telescope Repair Clinic that will allow visitors to bring in their telescopes to get advice from NEFAS members on how to operate them and suggestions on how to fix them.  (While some telescopes may be able to be fixed, it is not guaranteed.)  NEFAS will also lead Solar Viewing on the museum’s lawn, weather-permitting.  And, local artist Don Trousdell will take visitors on a tour of his exhibit, Children of the Universe, on display in the Wachovia Community Conference Room through May 30.  Activities geared toward children will be ongoing throughout the day.  Children will be able to create sun dials, solar viewers and more.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to record their memories of astronomy-related topics.  They will be able to reminisce about the triumphs and tragedies of shuttle missions by recording their stories which will become part of the community project, Voices of the First Coast.  The oral history project is a cultural collaboration between WJCT and the Jacksonville Public Libraries.

In the evening, an educator from the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium will lead a Sky Walk at Bird Island Park in Ponte Vedra Beach at 8:30 p.m. Sky gazers will explore what is visible in Jacksonville’s night sky with the naked eye, then examine it up close using a telescope.  Bird Island Park is located directly behind the Ponte Vedra Library located at 101 Library Park Boulevard.  For information about the Sky Walk, contact Bird Island Park at 904.469.PARK (7275).

The Museum of Science & History (MOSH) is located at 1025 Museum Circle near Friendship Park. MOSH, first chartered in 1941, inspires the joy of lifelong learning by bringing to life the sciences and regional history. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.  Admission is $10 for adults, $8.50 for active and retired military, $8 for children ages 3 through 12.  There is no admission fee for children 2 and under or museum members. Admission is $5 on Fridays.