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Celebrate 20 Years of Astronomy at the Museum of Natural Sciences

POSTPONED UNTIL SATURDAY, 2/6/2010 DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER - Revised schedule to follow Astronomy Days Event Page

Come see the big picture — of the Universe — as the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences hosts its 20th annual Astronomy Days event on Saturday, January 30 from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday, January 31 from noon to 5 pm. Check out Mars in 3D, view the sun safely through solar telescopes, launch your own rocket and meet live animals of the constellations. You can also meet a live astronaut! Retired space shuttle pilot Susan Kilrain, who has traveled nearly 8 million space miles while circling the globe more than 300 times, will talk about her amazing experiences at noon and 3 pm on Saturday. And it’s all free.

NASA joins us again this year to host several educational stations, including: Missions to Mars (with models of the Rover, Phoenix and Sojourner); Saturn and the Cassini Mission; Living on the Moon; Science of the Great Observatories (Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer); and you might even run into Galileo, the father of modern astronomy, in the flesh. NASA is also offering two free educator workshops. One explores how to access and analyze NASA satellite and observatory data from the classroom, and the other explains how to develop inquiry-based lessons using educational materials such as NASA eClips. To register, contact Kari Wouk at 919.733.7450 x502; kari.wouk@naturalsciences.org.

The Raleigh Astronomy Club, co-sponsors of the event, will host several stations including new ones on Internet Astronomy and Solar System Imaging. Enjoy universally appealing presentations from representatives of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute and the Robeson Planetarium. Kids of all ages can build and take home their own Saturn, gawk at the giant model rockets from the Tripoli Rocketry Association, or step into the inflatable star projection dome courtesy of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.

Visitors can also check the progress of TeamSTELLAR and their pursuit of the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon; meet members of “The Weightless Lumbees,” a team of students from UNC Pembroke and UNC Charlotte selected by NASA to conduct scientific experiments aboard reduced-gravity aircraft; discover the difference between a meteorite and a “meteorwrong” (eg. slag) and bring your own sample in for identification; or learn how space weather impacts your daily life.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, located at 11 West Jones Street in downtown Raleigh, documents and interprets the natural history of the state through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. Visit us online at www.naturalsciences.org. Hours: Monday–Saturday, 9am–5pm; Sunday, noon–5pm. General admission is free. The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary.