Astronomy Day 2010

Todays blog post is from Cynthia Gustava, who is planning the events surrounding Astronomy Day 2010. Come down to the George Observatory this Saturday and learn all about astronomy and our amazing facility in Brazos Bend State Park

The George Observatory, a satellite facility of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, will again host its annual Astronomy Day activities. The event is this Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010.  We’ll officially open the doors to the public at 3 p.m., and events will begin to wind down at around 10:30 p.m.

Before opening the doors to the public at 3 p.m., we will be heading up a telephone contact with the International Space Station (ISS), which will be broadcast and recorded. The pass of the ISS is (at this writing) expected to be some time around 11:30 a.m. One scout troop and one school group coming in for an early Challenger Center mission will participate in this contact and ask questions of the ISS crew. We are encouraging all volunteers to be up on deck to listen to this special event, which will take approximately 10 minutes.

The observatory is home to three high-quality telescopes, including the multi-million dollar, 36-inch diameter Gueymard telescope, which is used regularly for scientific research. The 11-inch refractor mounted on one side of the Gueymard telescope was donated to the George Observatory by Preston and Donna Engebretson of Houston and has proven to be a wonderful addition to the retinue of telescopes housed in the domes. The 11” refractor telescope provides impressive views of planets and deep sky objects alike.

The astronomy clubs from Houston and Beaumont come together this one day of the year for the purpose of sharing with the general public as much information about astronomy as possible in one day. Local area amateur astronomers are part of the lecture agenda taking place indoors with talks starting at 4 p.m., and running every hour until 10 p.m. There are also outdoor presentations by amateur astronomers every half hour until dark, learning tools for the young and old, kid’s activities, face painting, button making, night sky constellation tours and the opportunity to impart your knowledge of night sky objects to the public. Tables will be set up in the downstairs lobby and foyer by HCC Southwest Campus, the Night Sky Network, Land Sea & Sky, Advanced Telescope Repair and the usual Astronomy “club” table. Be sure to visit the new NASA pop-up displays set up downstairs in the main area. These will display images and information on the ISS and the Hubble Space Telescope. The theme this year for the astronomy t-shirts, and for the entire event, will commemorate the 20th birthday of the Hubble telescope. 

Consider bringing your solar-filtered telescope to set up on the deck in the afternoon hours to provide safe viewing of the Sun. Also in the afternoon, a simulated spaceship flight to the Moon in the Challenger Center will be open to the public.

If you are new to the area, the George Observatory, located within Brazos Bend State Park, is about one hours’ drive southwest of Houston. The Brazos Bend State Park is a fascinating blend of lakes and trails, with alligators, small animals and wild birds of many types. The Park and the George Observatory can be reached in two ways. Maps and driving directions are available here.

We hope you can join us for a day of astronomy and fun!

Cynthia Gustava
Astronomy Day Coordinator


Webisode: A Wild Ride [Hubble 3D]

The shuttle that NASA uses is often referred to as “The Flying Brick” because they land it without using any engine power. Because it is so difficult to both fly and land, astronauts prepare for their space flights using a replica cockpit. The simulator, which has the exact same controls as the actual space shuttle, can duplicate errors and system failures that might plague a crew on an actual mission.

Learn about the flight simulator in this week’s webisode:

Check out Hubble 3D in the Wortham IMAX Theatre. This stunning 3D film reveals the cosmos as never before, allowing viewers of all ages to explore the grandeur of the nebulae and galaxies, the birth and death of stars, and some of the greatest mysteries of our celestial surroundings. If you come on Tuesday after 2 p.m., tickets are just $6!

Did you miss the first four webisodes?
Astronaut Mike Massimino (he’s on Twitter!) takes us on a tour of the spaceship and explains how they train for missions.
Mike explains how difficult it is to get into space suits.
See the largest swimming pool in the world and how the astronauts use it to train for space walks.
Learn about the first mission to repair the Hubble Telescope.

Webisode: Space is an Open Book Exam [Hubble 3D]

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Telescope. To celebrate 20 years of amazing images and deep-space discovery, we’ve got an all-new Hubble 3D webisode!

Check out the video below for a fascinating tour of the space shuttle simulator with astronaut Mike Massimino (he’s on Twitter!) Find out why NBA players would feel uncomfortable on the shuttle, how astronauts deal with a space bathroom, explore the flight deck, and learn why space is like “an open book exam.”

Want to celebrate the Hubble’s 20th?
Check out Hubble 3D in the Wortham IMAX Theatre. This stunning 3D film reveals the cosmos as never before, allowing viewers of all ages to explore the grandeur of the nebulae and galaxies, the birth and death of stars, and some of the greatest mysteries of our celestial surroundings.

Did you miss the first three webisodes?
Mike explains how difficult it is to get into space suits.
See the largest swimming pool in the world and how the astronauts use it to train for space walks.
Learn about the first mission to repair the Hubble Telescope.

Webisode: Getting Dressed [Hubble 3D]

As we gear up for the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Launch (April 26), this week we bring you another webisode from behind the scenes of the IMAX film Hubble 3D. In this week’s episode, astronaut Mike Massimino talks about the difficulty of getting into his space suit. It takes two people just to help him pull his pants on!

Did you miss the first two webisodes?
See the largest swimming pool in the world and how the astronauts use it to train for space walks.
Learn about the first mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. 

Don’t miss your chance to see Hubble 3D in IMAX. Hubble 3D will also reveal the cosmos as never before, allowing viewers of all ages to explore the grandeur of the nebulae and galaxies, the birth and death of stars, and some of the greatest mysteries of our celestial surroundings. Click here to read about the Hubble Telescope and to view the trailer for Hubble 3D in IMAX.