The NC Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh is a weekend destination for many families and science lovers. But visitors to the museum the weekend of Jan. 28-29 had an even more fantastic experience as Astronomy Days returned offline for 2023. This is one of the nation’s premier annual events on cosmology, offering a unique opportunity for outer space enthusiasts of all ages to explore and learn. This year’s Astronomy Days theme is Humans in Space: Past, Present, and Future.
“Want a sticker of the solar system planets? Which planet is your favorite? “Mars!”, “Saturn!”, “Neptune!”
Conversations like these continued to occur at the UNC Physics and Astronomy booths throughout the two days.
As is customary, UNC Physics and Astronomy is an active contributor and strong supporter of Astronomy Days. This year UNC’s booth was set up on the third floor of the museum and was divided into two themed booths. All exhibits were designed and organized by graduate and undergraduate volunteers from the UNC Department of Physics and Astronomy. Over the course of two days, 16 student volunteers welcomed hundreds of visitors.
Of course, the students didn’t just share their knowledge and love of physics and astronomy through spreading stickers. At the “UNC Physics and Astronomy” booth, they designed fun little experiments to explain scientific principles such as Angular Momentum and Cartesian Diver. At the “Planet Hunters and Investigators” booth, visitors can use models to simulate planetary motion and learn about the Earth’s rotation, revolution and the creation of the day, night and seasons.
“I’ve always felt that knowledge about the universe is very grand and complex, and my child is still too young for her cognitive abilities to possibly understand these concepts.” a mother of Hailey, a six-year-old girl, shared with us, “But this form of sharing, this design, through little experiments, you feel like your common sense is being challenged then you want to learn more, and it’s an amazing experience. I think she’s starting to enjoy learning about the universe.”
Hailey’s Mom was not alone; many parents stopped at the booths and were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and curiosity that erupted from their children. “I could feel the love and pride these students from UNC have for their field of study, and their passion was passed on to my children,” commented a mother of two boys and a toddler girl.
UNC Physics and Astronomy has been dedicated to spreading scientific knowledge to the general population and sharing the fascination and beauty of physics and astronomy. As more events return offline this year, it will also have more opportunities to connect with the public and sow the seeds of love for science.