McDonald Observatory brings Astronomy Day to Texas kids, Internet audience on May 4

2 May 2006

FORT DAVIS, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory will celebrate Astronomy Day on May 4 by bringing an interactive, live program to thousands of students across the state, which anyone can watch at home via the Internet.

The international observance of Astronomy Day will occur two days later, on May 6.

The event is made possible by the Connect2Texas program of the state’s Education Service Center Region XI, based in Fort Worth.

“I am delighted that McDonald Observatory will reach so many students on May 4,” said Dr. David L. Lambert, director of McDonald Observatory. “We are proud of our educational activities and I hope that parents and grandparents will follow along on this special day.”

The presentation will include a tour of the Observatory, a live exploration of the Sun and its features using McDonald telescopes (weather permitting), and a question and answer period between students and the Observatory’s presenter, education coordinator Marc Wetzel. The questions will come from classrooms selected in advance from the more than 180 classrooms across the state that will be connected to the Observatory via live videoconference.

Linda Krouse, director of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s Noble Planetarium, will also answer questions from the students.

The presentation is aimed at Texas students in grades 5-8, and is aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for science for each of these grade levels. Teachers can download pre- and post-conference materials for use in their classrooms from http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/astroday06.

The entire presentation will be made three times on May 4, so people wishing to watch it online from home have three opportunities to view it. The hour-long program will begin online live at 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m.

To view the presentation on May 4 via Internet:

  1. Visit the web site http://starbak.esc11.net
  2. Find the section called “Today’s Live Programs”
  3. Click on the program title “Astronomy Day” (a new window will open)
  4. Look toward the upper right and click on “View Program” next to the Windows Media icon
  5. The program will begin playing in Windows Media Player

The first Astronomy Day happened in 1973, when the Astronomical Society of Northern California created the day to celebrate astronomy and introduce the hobby of skywatching to those who had never before looked through a telescope. Today, the event is celebrated across the U.S. and other parts of the world. The Astronomical League, along with about a dozen co-sponsoring organizations, helps astronomy clubs and others plan and publicize Astronomy Day events each year.

Some funding for McDonald Observatory’s Astronomy Day program was provided by NASA through a grant from the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Amon G. Carter Foundation of Fort Worth, and the F. B. Doane Foundation of Chicago. Funding for the Observatory's videoconferencing equipment was provided by Richard King and Video Call of Austin.

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Notes:

For more information on Education Service Center Region XI’s Connect2Texas program, visit http://www.Connect2Texas.net.