Astronomy Festival on the National Mall brings the universe down to Earth

Posted by David Eicher
on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017; 6 – 11 pm; N of the Washington Monument; 15th Street NW and Constitution Ave.   across from the National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Astronomy Festival on the National Mall promo poster // Donald Lubowich

See the Sun, Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter at the Largest Astronomy Event on the National Mall

In Washington, DC, on Friday June 2th from 6 to 11 pm, visitors will be a given a free guided tour of the sky at the 8th Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall. Rain location: School Without Walls High School 2130 G St. NW. 

This free public stargazing is organized by Dr. Donald Lubowich, Coordinator of Astronomy Outreach at Hofstra University.  The Astronomy Festival on the National Mall (AFNM) will feature solar, optical, and radio telescope observations of the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn; hands-on activities, demonstrations, hand-outs, posters, banners, and videos; a planetarium show with a portable blow-up dome, speakers from scientific and educational organization, and a chance to mingle with astronomers.

Dr. Lubowich and local amateur astronomers will set up twenty telescopes on the Mall. Starting at 6 pm, visitors will be able to view sunspots with the help of specially filtered telescopes.   After dusk and until 11 p.m. telescopes will provide close-up views of the Moon, Saturn with its beautiful rings, Jupiter and its moons, colorful double stars, and star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet.

“Bringing astronomy to the National Mall and partnering with astronomical organizations gives us a very special opportunity to encourage children to pursue their interest in science or math and to promote public understanding of science,” said Dr. Lubowich. “Gazing at the rings of Saturn or the Moon’s craters captures the imagination, no matter how old you are.”  AFNM started as part of a NASA-funded Music and Astronomy Under the Stars program, which brought an astronomy festival to outdoor concerts throughout the US, and was co-sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The AFNM will present Voyager, a dance interpretation of the NASA Voyager 1 and 2 missions and the “golden records” which traveled with them, by Neshamah - a modern dance company.  The purpose of the piece is to take on the broad theme of astronomy and investigate it through music, dance, and visual elements in a collaboration of the arts and science. The phonograph records contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them.

Representatives from some of the nation’s foremost scientific institutions, organizations, and universities will present exciting demonstrations and answer questions about the latest astronomical discoveries or careers in science.

Astronomy Festival on the National Mall location map // Donald Lubowich
Science Organizations: The American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Physics Teachers, American Physical Society, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Carnegie Science/Carnegie Academy for Science Education (CASE), Celestial Charts, Hubble Space Telescope, International Dark Sky Association, Lunar and Planetary Institute, NASA - Goddard Space Flight Center, National Air and Space Museum, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, National Science Foundation, Naval Research Laboratory, Science for Society & the Public, Society of Physics Students, the US Naval Observatory.

Colleges and Universities:  American University, Catholic University of American, Eastern Carolina University, Georgetown University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Laboratory, Montgomery College, Rice University/E-planetarium.

Astronomy clubs and organizations who will bring telescopes: Astronomical Association of Greenbelt, Astronomy Meetup, Goddard Astronomy Club, National Capital Astronomers, Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, Rappahannock Astronomy Club, Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers.

Endorsing organizations: American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Astronomy Magazine, Marian Koshland Science Museum, National Science Teachers Association, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

Public parking is available at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center Building, entrance on 14th Street NW just 1/4 block North of Constitution Avenue, for $13.00 from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m.   Updates at

Hofstra University | Hempstead, New York|11549 |

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