Keep Your Eyes on the Skies

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PASADENA, CA — On September 19, the city of Pasadena announced that it would be celebrating a Pasadena Astronomy Week, which spanned the week of October 16 to October 22.

“We have an unprecedented level of astronomy efforts and space science organizations here that have been woven into the fabric of our Pasadena community for decades,” explained Pasadena’s Mayor Terry Tornek.

Institutions at the forefront of space exploration and astronomical research collaborated for the event. They include Caltech, Carnegie Observatories, img_8636Giant Magellan Telescope, Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), NASA’s JPL, Mt. Wilson Observatory, The Planetary Society, and Thirty Meter Telescope.

Throughout the week, astronomy enthusiasts had multiple opportunities to learn more about the relevant discoveries made by these institutions and share their interest in all things space. For example, Carnegie Observatories, located at the center of Pasadena, hosted an open house.

All of the events culminated in the Pasadena Astronomy Fair that was hosted by the Pasadena Convention Center on Sunday, October 22 from 2 P.M. to 8 P.M. All ages were welcome and no RSVP was necessary. Most of the listed institutions had information booths ready for curious individuals and gave out stickers, brochures, and information on their latest discoveries and innovations. One innovation that stood out was the Giant Magellan Telescope, which is a unique telescope that is scheduled to begin commission in the Las Campanas Observatory, Chile in 2022.

The event was not packed, but a steady stream of planet, star, and Earth enthusiasts found their way through the booths, especially later in the evening. Most of the enthusiasts were young children who were unafraid to ask and answer questions posed by the scientists.

The most popular attraction was JPL’s inflatable observatory. Called the Geodome, the small observatory seats about thirty people and allows viewers to traverse through the solar system, up close and personal. JPL’s Jeff Nee served as the solar system’s tour guide as he took the viewers from planet to planet.

“My favorite part was JPL’s Geodome,” admitted senior Wendy Wong, who attended the event. “It was amazing to see the representative for JPL be so patient with the never-ending questions and comments of the younger astronomers. Overall, it was like a small journey to outer space, humbling and breathtaking.”

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