We need to spread the word! Too few kids and adults from across the region have enjoyed an excellent, but little known, monthly event in Arlington. Since February 2011, Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium has presented Sunday Science lectures, covering a wide range of science topics. With informative and stunning graphics, the topics covered are current and of widespread interest. They are presented by local scientists affiliated with the U.S. Naval Observatory, NASA, the Smithsonian Institution, George Mason University, and other organizations. Members of the audience interact with the speakers during a follow-up questions and answer session. I have attended most of these events and have been more than impressed!
Until November 2011, the Sunday lectures took place in Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium. After the renovations, currently in progress, these events will be held there again. One of the temporary interim sites is Walter Reed Recreation Center in Arlington. Supporters can keep current on upcoming lectures and other Friends’ events at www.saveplanetarium.org and by signing up to be added to the Friends’ email list at email@example.com.
Here is a listing of the lectures, from the beginning, to give an idea of the broad scope of topics (mostly astronomy-oriented) and of the range of excellent presenters. I am checking into some of the segments that may have been videotaped for future posting. The links provide additional information.
February 27, 2011—“Are We Alone? The Search for Life Beyond Earth,” Alice Monet, retired veteran astronomer from the U.S. Naval Observatory, and president of Friends of the Planetarium, discussed how scientists search for life beyond our Earth.
March 27, 2011—“Does Anyone Know What Day It Is?” Jennifer Bartlett, astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory, discussed calendar systems used over the millennia for astronomical observations.
June 5, 2011—“Astronomy on Ice,” Dr. Roopesh Ojha, U.S. Naval Observatory, shared his adventures and work in an astronomical observatory at the South Pole.
July 17, 2011—“Beyond Atlantis—Where Does Space Exploration Go from Here?” Heather Goss (Managing and Arts Editor at DCist.com, correspondent at Aviation Week, avid astronomy enthusiast, and space editor) discussed the final space shuttle launch and current big projects in space exploration—adventures that will carry the American space program forward.
September 18, 2011—“A Whole Lotta Shaking Going on!” Jonathan Harmon, Director of Arlington’s Planetarium, and Alice Monet presented information on earthquakes, focusing on the August 23rd 5.8 magnitude earthquake whose epicenter was in Mineral Virginia. Jonathan had visited the site and shared his photos.
October 2, 2011—“But Why Don’t You Just Google It? Or What Scientists Really Do.” Dr. Geneviève de Messières, astronomy educator at Smithsonian Institution, talked about the pathways for becoming an astronomer or other type of scientist and how scientists contribute to much of the information we take for granted because it’s readily accessible on the internet.
November 6, 2011—“Citizen Astronomers.” Amy Fredericks, astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory, discussed how amateur astronomers can contribute to the field of astronomy.
January 22, 2012—“Pixels on the Patio; Digital Astro-Imaging from Your Back Yard.” Geoff Chester, of the U.S. Naval Observatory and a member of NOVAC, shared how he uses simple digital devices to record astronomical objects with great results.
February 25, 2012—The City Dark, award-winning documentary by Ian Cheney about light pollution and our disappearing night sky. This special event (the Northern Virginia Premiere Screening) was held on a Saturday in place of a Sunday Science program. See the previous blog entry for more information. Nearly 200 people attended the event, which raised funds for Friends of the Planetarium and awareness of this topic—of interest to many communities.
The Next Lecture:
March 18, 2012—“Cosmic Collisions.” Dr. Jessica Rosenberg, astronomy professor at George Mason University, will tell us what happens when galaxies, each with their multi-billions of stars, cross paths. Most of us are familiar with the name of our spiral galaxy, the Milky Way, but most people don’t realize how HUGE it is. And that there are hundreds of billions of other galaxies, many of which may collide with a neighboring galaxy at some point. Definitely a mind blowing topic.
Find out about Cosmic Collisions on March 18th at
- Walter Reed Recreation Center, 2909 S. 16th St., Arlington, VA 22204
- 4:30 p.m.
- Recommended for ages 9 and up.
- This program is free to the public, but donations are welcome.
Donations, which support public planetarium programming, can be sent to Friends of the Planetarium, PO Box 7029, Arlington, VA 22207.
Providing a range of astronomy-related programs of interest to the general public is one of the mandates of the Friends of the Planetarium. These one-hour events contribute to that goal. The lectures have been incredible and are not to be missed. Help us spread the word and join the Friends of the Planetarium for some remarkable Sunday afternoons. And if you, or someone you know, has a science-oriented presentation to share that is suitable for ages nine and up, let us know.
–posted by Pam Juhl
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Add a comment: What topics would you like Friends of the Planetarium to include in the Sunday Science lectures? If you have attended one of the lectures, please share your comments.