Planetarium events celebrate Webb telescope, spotlight STEAM
Excitement is building over the first images NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will send back to Earth this summer, and the Radford University Planetarium is giving astronomy and science enthusiasts of all ages a chance to learn about the telescope – plus a whole lot more.
The planetarium is joining hundreds of sites across the United States on June 10-11, 2022, to celebrate test images released from the telescope, which NASA launched in 2021 as its next great science observatory. Numerous events, games and activities are planned to celebrate the Webb telescope and build excitement about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education.
All activities are free and open to the public both days. The Radford University Planetarium is located at 925 E. Main St. in Radford in the university’s Center for the Sciences.
The planetarium will offer shows both days (Friday and Saturday) at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The 55-seat theater presents shows on its 10-meter-in-diameter dome and newly upgraded Digistar 7 projection system.
The event is anchored by virtual presentations from Francisco Muller-Sanchez, an astrophysicist with a broad interest in extragalactic astronomy. NASA recently awarded Muller-Sanchez two grants for use of the Webb telescope to study cores of galaxies with active supermassive black holes. Muller-Sanchez, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Materials Sciences at the University of Memphis, will give presentations from 2-3 p.m. each day.
“We are thrilled that the Radford University Planetarium is an official host site for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope community events celebrating Webb’s stunning images,” said Radford Professor of Physics and Planetarium Director Rhett Herman, Ph.D. “We are partnering with many departments and groups in the Artis College of Science and Technology, in the broader Radford University community, as well as multiple community locations and regional organizations for this event celebrating this amazing feat of science and engineering. People of all ages and backgrounds will find inspiration in the Webb’s new view of the cosmos, which will fundamentally change our understanding of the universe for this generation and many to come.”
Other events throughout the day include the Make Your Alien activity, presented by the Radford Department of Biology, as well as interactive activities such as space sensory bins, moon sand and marshmallow constellations presented by Wonder Universe: A Children’s Museum of Christiansburg, Virginia.
Eventgoers will get an opportunity to survey the sky through telescopes and learn about reliable communication in space and the chemistry of space. The Department of Chemistry will also provide free liquid nitrogen ice cream. A glass-blowing presentation is scheduled, and the McConnell Library will host a button-making event.
Radford University’s Museum of the Earth Sciences will be open during the festivities, giving visitors an opportunity to explore more earth-related themes. The museum is adjacent to the planetarium inside the Center for the Sciences.
Wine and Design of Christiansburg will offer a custom painting class. Registration is required for the class.
Representatives from Radford Public Library will offer science-related crafts and reading information in the Center for the Sciences lobby.