Tag Archives: George Rieke

Lots of great choices for astronomy events this week

There are tons of great astronomy events on the calendar this week, topped by the opening of the Museum of Flight’s Apollo exhibit and a visit from the Night Sky Guy.


ApolloA couple of years in the making, the new Apollo exhibit opens Saturday, May 20 at the Museum of Flight, though museum members can get an early sneak-peek Wednesday evening. The exhibit includes the F-1 engine parts fished out of the Atlantic Ocean by Bezos Expeditions, an intact F-1, and many more great space exploration artifacts. Check out our recent article and podcast previewing the exhibit.

The Museum will also hold its annual Space Fest over the weekend with a variety of presentations, exhibits, and discussions focused on Apollo and the Moon.

The Night Sky Guy and Mars

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is in Seattle for three talks at Benaroya Hall. Titled “Mankind to Mars,” the event will be an exploration of what it will take to get humans to the Red Planet. It’s produced in conjunction with the Mars miniseries created by the National Geographic channel. One show was Sunday afternoon, and Fazekas also appears on Monday, May 15 and Tuesday, May 16, both at 7:30 p.m.

Fazekas is the author of Star Trek: The Official Guide to Our Universe: The True Science Behind the Starship Voyages (National Geographic, 2016).

AstronoMay at PacSci

Pacific Science CenterAstronoMay is under way at the Pacific Science Center, and a couple of interesting events are on the calendar for this week. Astronaut Nicholas Patrick will host a viewing and discussion of the film A Beautiful Planet 3-D at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 16. The film is a portrait of Earth from space captured by the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Patrick will introduce the show and lead a Q&A session after. He’s now with Blue Origin; see our article about Patrick’s recent talk at Astronomy on Tap Seattle. Admission is $10, or $5 for science center members.

Then learn the ABCs of total solar eclipses, and get ready for the one that will be visible in parts of the United States in August, with Dennis Schatz, nationally recognized astronomy educator and Pacific Science Center senior advisor. Total Solar Eclipse 101 happens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 17. Cost is $5, free for members.


RiekeNASA’s next great space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is scheduled for launch in October 2018. George Rieke, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona and science team lead for the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) that will fly onboard the scope, will speak at the University of Washington astronomy colloquium at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 18. The talk will focus on the capabilities of JWST, emphasizing the advances over present (and even some future) facilities, with examples of the science it will enable.

Club events

Rose City Astronomers will hold their monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 15 in the OMSI auditorium in Portland. It will be their annual swap meet and astronomy information fair. The club, along with OMSI and the Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers, will host public star parties at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at both Rooster Rock State Park and L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park.

The Island County Astronomical Society will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 15 at the Oak Harbor Library.

The Seattle Astronomical Society monthly meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 17 in room A102 of the Physics/Astronomy building on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Guest speaker Woody Sullivan, professor emeritus of astronomy, will talk about the contributions of William and Caroline Herschel to our understanding of comets. Sullivan is working on a biography of William Herschel.

The Tacoma Astronomical Society plans one of its free public nights for 9 p.m. Saturday, May 20. The topic for the indoor presentation will be black holes. If the weather cooperates they’ll break out the telescopes for some observing.


Theodor Jacobsen ObservatoryThe bi-monthly open house at the UW’s Theodor Jacobsen Observatory is set for 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 17. The topic for the evening’s astronomy talk has not been published. It’s a good idea to make reservations early, as these typically are filled up. Volunteers from the Seattle Astronomical Society will conduct tours of the observatory dome and, weather permitting, offer a look through its vintage telescope.

Planetarium shows

The Bellevue College Planetarium will run a public show about black holes at 6 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. The show will include animations of the formation of the early universe, star birth and death, the collision of giant galaxies, and a simulated flight to a super-massive black hole lurking at the center of our own Milky Way Galaxy. It’s free, but reservations are suggested. See the website for registration info and other details.

The Willard Smith Planetarium at the Pacific Science Center offers a variety of shows every day. Their full schedule is posted on our calendar page, where you can also scout out more future astronomy events.


TJO events return in a busy week

The return of the Theodor Jacobsen Observatory open houses and no less than five astronomy-club events highlight a jam-packed astro calendar for the coming week.

Theodor Jacobsen ObservatoryA welcome sign of spring is the return of the open houses at the Theodor Jacobsen Observatory on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Astronomy talks and observing through the observatory’s vintage 6-inch Brashear telescope on a Warner & Swasey equatorial mount will happen on the first and third Wednesdays of the month from April through September. The first of the year will be this Wednesday, April 5, beginning at 8 p.m.

Observatory director Dr. Ana Larson will talk about the cause of the phases of the Moon as well as eclipses of the Moon and Sun, with an emphasis on this year’s total eclipse of the Sun to be seen as its shadow sweeps a path across the U.S. on August 21. Future talks will be given by UW undergraduates. Volunteers from the Seattle Astronomical Society staff the observatory dome and, if weather permits, pop the roof for a little stargazing.

While these events are free reservations are strongly recommended for the talks, which typically fill the small classroom in the observatory. In fact, reservations are already completely booked for the April 19 open house. A schedule for future talk topics will be posted soon on the observatory website.

Club events

The Olympic Astronomical Society plans its monthly meeting for Monday, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. in room Engineering 117 at Olympic College in Bremerton. Topics will include the solar eclipse, black holes, and a movie from the club’s Camp Delaney Star Party.

The Tacoma Astronomical Society will meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4 in room 175 of Thompson Hall on the University of Puget Sound campus in Tacoma. Guest speaker Stephanie Anderson, co-owner of Cloud Break Optics in Ballard, will talk about astrophotography from the city. The society will also hold one of its public nights at 9 p.m. Saturday, April 8 at the Fort Steilacoom campus of Pierce College. The indoor presentation will be about space exploration. If the weather cooperates they’ll bring out the telescopes for some observing.

The Spokane Astronomical Society’s monthly meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 7 at the planetarium at Spokane Falls Community College. The topic will be all about telescopes: different types, how they work, and reasons to choose one design over another.

The Battle Point Astronomical Association plans a full evening of events for Saturday, April 8, with their BP Astro Kids program about the lives of stars running at 4 p.m. and again at 5 o’clock. Their planetarium show at 7:30 p.m. will look at when galaxies collide. It all happens at their observatory in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island.

Astronomy Night at Shorecrest

Shorecrest High School will host an astronomy night at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 4. Events for all weather are planned with something for the entire family.

Science and beer

We’ll find out if beer and dark matter mix at an OMSI Science Pub on Thursday, April 6 at McMenamins Mission Theater and Pub in Portland. Astrophysicist Alison Crocker from Reed College will highlight the most convincing observations astronomers have made of dark matter. The doors open at 5 p.m. and the program begins at 7 o’clock. There’s a $5 suggested donation.

Take your space medicine

NASA Flight Surgeon David Reyes will give a lecture titled, “Space Medicine: Past, Present, and Future” at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 8 at the Museum of Flight. Reyes will discuss the evolution of space medical capabilities over the years, and how NASA and commercial spaceflight companies might address future medical needs on a human mission to Mars. The talk is free with museum admission.

Planetarium shows galore

In addition to the Battle Point shows noted above, there are several other planetarium programs on the docket for the week. The WSU Planetarium in Pullman has a new show about sky moms that will run at 7 p.m. Friday, April 7, and repeat at 11 a.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. The program is about motherhood myths associated with the constellations.

The Pierce College Science Dome is running a show about rockets in which kids can build their own! It runs on Saturdays through May at 12:30 p.m. and again at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 and are available online.

The Willard Smith Planetarium at Pacific Science Center has a variety of shows daily. Their complete schedule is on our calendar page.

Futures file

You can scout ahead for future events on our calendar page. We’ve recently added a number of items, including:

  • A talk by Planet 9 proposer Konstantin Batygin of Caltech, a UW astronomy colloquium April 20
  • A talk by Dr. George Rieke of the James Webb Space Telescope May 18 at UW
  • Seattle Symphony performances to a screening of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey June 30 and July 1
  • A panel discussion about nearby exoplanet Proxima b May 3 at the UW

Up in the sky

It’s the best time of this year to observe Jupiter, which reaches opposition on Friday. The Sky This Week from Astronomy magazine and This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope offer more observing highlights for the week.