Penn State's popular AstroFest program, a four-night festival of astronomy activities and stargazing, will return to an in-person format and welcome visitors to Davey Laboratory from Wednesday, July 13, through Saturday, July 16. The program will run from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. each night during the 2022 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
AstroFest will offer visitors a variety of educational activities for all ages, sponsored by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Events are free and will occur rain or shine both in classrooms and in the planetarium located on the fifth floor of Davey Lab. On clear nights, visitors will be able to use the rooftop observatory telescopes to see firsthand views of binary stars, star clusters, and the craters on the moon, which will be full during AstroFest this year. In the lobby, kids of all ages can pick up their AstroFest Passport, which can be stamped at the demonstrations and presentations and returned at the end of the night for science-themed prizes like light-up tops and dinosaur excavations.
"We are especially excited about our featured presentations this year,” said Jane Charlton, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, who was one of the founders of AstroFest in 1999. “We will have topics ranging from the mind-blowing size of the universe to cosmic explosions to planets, planets everywhere.”
The popular 3D shows featuring Mars and the universe also return, along with planetarium shows. The AstroFest T-shirt for 2022 is themed to the James Webb Space Telescope, which was successfully launched on Dec. 25, 2021, and is going to give a glimpse of what was happening at cosmic dawn. Visitors can purchase an AstroFest T-shirt at Davey Lab during the event.
“After two years of purely online outreach events, it’s so exciting to bring programs like AstroFest back to campus,” said Tim Gleason, director of the Eberly College of Science’s Office of Science Outreach. “There’s nothing quite like seeing the planets or experiencing the planetarium with your own eyes.”
Although members of the public are invited to come to Davey Lab to participate in the in-person event, there also will be an online AstroFest lobby with virtual activities, and some live broadcasts will be available for those who are not able to come to campus.
The virtual lobby for AstroFest is already available online. The in-person event will be held at Davey Lab on Penn State's University Park campus.
More information is available on the AstroFest website and Facebook page, or by contacting the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics by phone at 814-865-0418 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or by email at email@example.com.