DTM Astronomers Participate in Burnt Mills Elementary School's Science and Technology Night

Sergio Dieterich
Sergio Dieterich (left), Maggie Thompson (center), and their helper Yafet (right), walk Dieterich's amateur telescope out to the field to prepare for a night of stargazing at Burnt Mills Elementary School.

DTM NSF postdoctoral fellow Sergio Dieterich and research trainee Maggie Thompson had a busy evening on Thursday, February 23, participating in the Burnt Mills Elementary School Science and Technology Night in Silver Spring, MD.

Sergio DieterichSergio Dieterich (left) and Maggie Thompson (right) with their helper for the night, Yafet, at the Burnt Mills Elementary School Science and Technology Night on February 23, 2017. Photo by Sergio Dieterich, DTM.

They took advantage of the warm weather and clear night sky to show Venus through Dieterich's amateur telescope to students and their parents during the event. Thompson did the hard work operating the telescope and showing the children how to look through it, while Dieterich used his astronomical green laser to show the constellations and different types of stars to those waiting in line.

Venus currently looked the brightest it will be for all of 2017, shining at an impressive magnitude -4.8, according to The Astronomical Almanac. Its crescent phase was clearly visible through the telescope, which surprised many of the children. The students also asked questions about the recent TRAPPIST-1 discovery announced the day before at a news conference at NASA headquarters. 

Sergio DieterichDieterich explaining to the students the different constellations. Photo by Maggie Thompson, DTM.

By the end of the night, Dieterich and Thompson were making plans to tell the DTM staff astronomers to watch out for a fellowship application from their little helper for the night, Yafet, in about 20 years.

Written by Sergio Dieterich // February 27, 2017

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