Star Party at the White House and Other Upcoming Events

Article written: 5 Oct , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

On Wednesday, Oct. 7, there will be an historic first at the US president’s home: a star party. From a White House press release:

“The President and First Lady will host an event at the White House for middle-school students to highlight the President’s commitment to science, engineering and math education as the foundation of this nation’s global technological and economic leadership and to express his support for astronomy in particular – for its capacity to promote a greater awareness of our place in the universe, expand human knowledge, and inspire the next generation by showing them the beauty and mysteries of the night sky.”

About 20 telescopes will be set up on the White House lawn focused on Jupiter, the Moon and select stars, and supporters of the International Year of Astronomy are encouraged to follow this event, and host their own star parties to follow the example set.

There will also be interactive dome presentations, and hands-on activities including scale models of the Solar System, impact cratering, and investigating meteorites and Moon rocks. If haven’t been invited, you can participate by watching on NASA TV, or streaming on the White House website, starting at about 8 p.m. EDT. Even if clouds or rain intervene to prevent telescopic viewing, attendees will still have plenty to do.

The White House Star Party is just one of many family-friendly astronomy events and activities happening this fall. Among the others:

* October 4-10 World Space Week

* October 9NASA’s LCROSS impact on the Moon

* October 13– Hubble’s Amazing Rescue premieres on PBS on NOVA

* October 9-23Great World Wide Star Count

* October 19-25 — Fall Astronomy Week, including Fall Astronomy Day on Saturday, October 24, organized by the Astronomical League.

* October 22-24 — IYA2009 Galilean Nights global star party ()

* November 10-30 NASA’s Great Observatories image unveiling



10 Responses

  1. Astrofiend says

    Awesome. It’s been a while since an American president actually overtly and publicly acknowledged the value of pure science for science’ sake, rather than publicly ignoring any non-technological aspects so as not to not overly worry core constituents in the bible-bashing-belt that there may be any deep significance in this whole ‘science thing’. Sigh – I guess that’s what it takes to scale the political heights in America these days.

    Now I say to the American pollies – a star party is a nice gesture, but nothing says you’re serious like the Benjamins!

  2. Audrey Fischer says

    This is very cool it’s actually happening! Hope to see this as an annual White House event. Where ever you celebrate IYA, share a hug and discovery of the Universe together.

    …and I think an observatory would be an excellent addition to the White House… don’t you?
    Hmm, an observatory… the first step toward dimming the lights of light pollution.

    Happy IYA… (and consider yourselves hugged)!

  3. What an excellant idea, it will be a long time before we get scopes on the lawn at No 10 Downing St., or Buckingham Palace.

    The Queen does hold regular garden parties so a set of Solar Scopes would certainly attract attention!!

  4. Isabelle C. says

    It’s gonna be great… Here a story about another US President who appreciated Astronomy to adjust the sense of proportions…

    Quote
    At Saramore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt and I used to play a little game together.
    After an evening of talk, we would go out on the lawn and search the skies until we found the faint spot of Light-mist beyond the lower left-hand corner of the great Square of Pegasus. Then one or the other of us would recite:

    That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million suns, each larger than our sun.”

    Then Roosevelt would grin at me and say: “Now I think we are small enough!”

    From: “The Book of Naturalists, Knopf”

  5. ealicea says

    That is great news! I agree with Audrey, this should be an annual event.

    Now let’s see how long it takes someone to cry “Indoctrination!”

  6. Jon Hanford says

    What a great idea to get people interested in astronomy and science in general. Sorta reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln visiting the US Naval Observatory during the Civil War to look at Mars & Saturn with future Martian moon discoverer Asaph Hall. This might also be a good occasion to introduce the attendees of the problem of light pollution, many of whom are totally unaware of this problem (look at the targets selected for observation, not any that would suffer under Washington’s ‘light dome’). Still, a good program to inspire future scientists and engineers.

  7. Sili says

    Is any attempt being made at reducing light pollution for the occasion? – And perhaps highlighting that issue – as well as the concomitant energy waste?

  8. Jon Hanford says

    Right on, Sili !

  9. SuperKevin says

    Maybe the president will take a liking to it and throw some more money toward space technologies 😉

  10. William928 says

    What a wonderful event! But sadly, as ealicea points out, it won’t be long until the religious right are castigating the President for spoiling the youngsters minds.

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