Community Astronomy Night Brings Young People, Scientists Together to Explore Night Sky

3/27/20243 months ago

young people learn how to use a telescope

On Wednesday March 20, young people and families gathered at the Cambridge Public Library to learn about astronomy and explore the night sky at Community Astronomy Night.

The event was hosted by the Cambridge STEAM Initiative in partnership with the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA), Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), and the City’s Office of Workforce Development.

Though the evening’s skies were cloudy, participants’ curiosity remained bright as they:

  1. Built Galileoscopes – the same type of telescope (refractor telescope) used to view what astronomer Galileo Galilei saw 400 years ago, including craters of the Earth’s Moon, four of Jupiter’s moons, and Saturn’s rings.
  2. Created Planispheres to find and identify constellations in the night sky at any time and date
  3. Learned about the upcoming Solar Eclipse on April 6 and picked up "eclipse glasses" to safely view it.

Interns from CfA’s Science Research Mentoring Program (SRMP), all students at CRLS, served as the Galileoscope instructors with guidance from CfA faculty. Instruction in Planisphere construction and usage was provided by Tal SebellShavit, CRLS Physics and Astronomy teacher.

SRMP provides an opportunity for students from CRLS to work on a year-long independent research project in astrophysics under the guidance of a CfA astrophysicists. Students learn what it is actually like to conduct real, cutting-edge research and work closely with living scientists from diverse backgrounds. CRLS student and faculty liaison stipends for the SRMP program are funded by Cambridge STEAM Initiative and the Office of Workforce Development.

Want to learn more about the impact of SRMP? Tune into the latest episode of the STEAM Rises podcast, "Wobbles and Wonder - Mentoring in an Astrophysics Program" featuring SRMP's Daniel Yahalomi as the podcast guest! The episode shares Daniel's reflections on life as a scientist, mentorship, and the promise of bringing diverse groups of students together to study astrophysics. While you think about the stars and all things celestial, don't forget that there is a solar eclipse on Monday April 8! Stop by any Cambridge Public Library branch on April 1 to pick up a pair of eclipse viewing glasses!