The organizers of Family Earth and Sky Night are on a mission – to get families to come together to celebrate Earth Day and National Astronomy Day.
“First of all, this is a free event, and it’s our mission to get the entire community involved in science, math and technology,” said John Hutchens, the director of special programs for the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken.
He said area science buffs and novices alike will convene to enjoy a great family event, and, “this is a great way to celebrate our great Earth.”
Family Earth and Sky Night will be from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, 471 University Parkway, Aiken.
From 6:30-9:30 p.m., a variety of free, hands-on activities will allow participants to explore the wonders of Earth and space science, make items to take home and interact with snakes, turtles, owls and alligators.
In addition to its regular 7 and 8 p.m. Saturday shows, the DuPont Planetarium is adding 9 and 10 p.m. showings of To the Moon and Beyond. Viewers will renew their knowledge of the moon and NASA’s 50 years in space and see what’s ahead for space exploration. Planetarium shows will be available first come, first serve and cost $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for senior citizens, $2.50 for students in 4K-12th grades and $1 for USC Aiken students and staff.
Once it’s dark outside, the observatory on the roof of the science center will open for night-sky viewing using the Bechtel Telescope. Weather permitting, Saturn and the crescent moon will be visible, as will star clusters.
Members of the Astronomy Club of Augusta will have telescopes set up on the lawn to help visitors find celestial bodies and learn more about the constellations.
Hutchens said Family Earth and Sky Night is related to President Obama’s initiative to impart millions of public-private corporate dollars to build on science, technology, education and math (STEM) initiatives for teachers and students alike – ultimately, to inspire students to pursue degrees in the sciences.
“It’s our way of infusing the love of those topics to inquiring students while developing a more informed citizenry and a future workforce,” Hutchens said.
The event is held by The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, the DuPont Planetarium, the University of South Carolina Aiken, and the Astronomy Club of Augusta.
Family Earth and Sky Night will be held rain or shine. For more information, visit rpsec.usca.edu or call (803) 641-3313.