Recently, I was asked to participate in a wonderful event funded by NASA. It’s called Music and Astronomy Under the Stars. Dr. Donald Lubowich, Coordinator of the Astronomy Outreach Program at Hofstra University, received this funding to give concertgoers a view of the cosmos at the Tanglewood Music Festival. This event was co-sponsored by The Dudley Observatory, of which I am a member. Also participating were members from the Springfield Stars Club.
Tanglewood is a beautiful place nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts and it provided a wonderful setting for this astronomy education and outreach program. Once our telescopes were set up on the spacious lawn provided to our group, curious musicians, staff and concert attendees began to approach us and ask questions about our various telescopes, celestial objects and recent news they’ve read. Although it was early in the day, we were able to provide some fantastic views of a large sunspot, which prompted even more questions that led to the recent reports of the possibility of seeing an aurora that night.
I was elated to see the amazement on the faces of children and adults who viewed a sunspot for the very first time. While witnessing this, I finally realized why astronomy truly has drawn me to look at the sky, read all I can, and share my information and views. Astronomy is a potential source for answers. When I heard the children’s questions, the epiphany was that we all have a child’s curiosity when we look up. The increasing amount of knowledge provided by clearer views and the increasing amount of data are providing answers to the many curiosities we had as children, and if we’re fortunate, still have. The night’s clouds may have disappointed some, but I’m sure the day’s events and discussion will encourage many to continue to look up to satisfy their urge to know more about who we are and what is our place in this magnificent universe.