On October 20, 2018 the stars align at Leif Everson Observatory and the Collins Learning Center on the Campus of Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay. The Door Peninsula Astronomical Society (DPAS) has scheduled its “Waves” Astronomy Day, which includes state-of-the-art planetarium shows at Stonecipher Astronomy Center in the afternoon, a special NASA-registered International Observe the Moon Night session at the Observatory, and an up-to-the-minute lecture on LIGO with a Gravity Wave measurement demo at Collins Center that evening. The day’s events are planned to enthuse, entertain and educate all ages.
Beginning at Noon on Saturday, Princeton Junction, NJ–based Aram Friedman will demonstrate his Micro Dome planetarium and the latest planetarium software that frees us from “Earth-centered” shows, allowing us to view the Universe from any point within it. Friedman writes:
“Join us on a tour of the observable universe, from our solar system to the furthest quasar. See the Exo-planets, other solar systems in our back yard, as we hunt for another Earth. View the invisible universe at wavelengths our eyes can’t see. See evidence of the big bang. Explore our own Sun as it approaches solar maximum. And, ask the big questions: where did we come from, where are we going, what’s out there in the darkness?”
Accompanying the planetarium shows will be family-appropriate “Wave”–themed exhibits and displays, guided tours of the Solar System “Planet Walk,” hands-on telescope and binocular tutorials, and an introduction to the Observatory’s newest arrival, a 16-in. aperture hyperbolic-mirrored cousin of the Hubble space telescope. These and other attractions will be on display during this “Wisconsin Science Festival” event, hosted by DPAS.
Dependent on clear skies, the STAR Garden and Observatory at the Astronomy Center will host a viewing of the rising moon at 4:40 pm, on NASA’s International Observe the Moon Night. Seeing the moon through binoculars or telescopes provides an eye-popping close-up of our only natural satellite. As the sun sets, viewers can safely focus on it and the other visible Planets in the evening sky.
At 7:00 pm in the Collins Learning Center, St. Norbert College Associate Professor Dr. Michael Olson will discuss the technology that has most recently demonstrated our ability to measure and “hear” the reverberations of collisions between both black holes and neutron stars.
It was predicted by scientists predicted that these collisions would produce gravitational waves, but until Sept. 14, 2015 the waves remained only a theory. Then, the LIGO facilities in Louisiana and Washington first detected and confirmed the existence of such waves.
Using a video camera and tabletop instrumentation, Dr. Olson will demonstrate the technology used to sense these ripples in ‘spacetime,’ and will reveal the sensitivity of these instruments and the enormous technical challenges that had to be overcome. Dr, Olson will also discuss our evolving understanding of the true nature of space, or more precisely, spacetime, and will describe the biggest riddles facing 21st century astronomy.
The Stonecipher Astronomy Center and Leif Everson Observatory are located at 2200 Utah St., Sturgeon Bay, WI, 54235; the Collins Learning Center is located at 2041 Michigan St., Sturgeon Bay, WI, 54235.