June 2015 Friends of the Planetarium Programming: The Sun

June 20–21 is a special Friends of the Planetarium weekend, devoted to the Sun. In a departure from our usual weekend format, Friday night’s show will be presented by the Arlington Public Schools.

Friday, June 19, 7:30 pm

APS showing of Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity

One of the most successful full-dome shows ever produced. Narrated by Academy-Award nominated actor Liam Neeson. Tickets sold at the door. For more information, visit the APS website.

Saturday, June 20, 7:30 pm

Triple Feature!

Saturday night’s program will include a special announcement, a talk about observing the sun, and a full-dome movie about stars.

[1] The announcement of the 2015 recipient of the David M. Brown Memorial Scholarship: Three years ago, the Friends established a new scholarship with the Arlington Community Foundation honoring the memory of David Brown. The third recipient of this prestigious award will be announced at the beginning of our Saturday evening program.

[2] Hydrogen Alpha: Unlocking the Sun's Chromosphere: a talk by Beth Tatum, NOVAC.

In this presentation, amateur astronomer and solar imager Beth Tatum will talk about safely observing and imaging the sun, particularly using specialized telescopes through which you can see the fascinating detail of the solar chromosphere. She will present a series of photographs taken with this equipment to show the different types of features one can observe, such as filaments, prominences, flares, and plage regions. She will also talk about simpler ways to safely observe the sun and the most apparent features of its surface, including sunspots.

Beth Tatum is a software QA engineer who lives in Ashburn, Virginia with her husband Ken and son Kevin. A lifelong amateur astronomer, she built her first telescope while in college, and has been a member of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club for more than 10 years.

[3] Full-dome movie: STARS: the Powerhouses of the Universe.

Every star has a story. Some are as old as time, faint and almost forgotten. Others burn bright and end their lives in powerful explosions. New stars are created every day, born from vast clouds of gas and dust. Through every phase of their existence, stars release the energy that powers the Universe. Journey to the farthest reaches of our galaxy and experience the awesome beauty and destructive power of STARS. Running Time: 26 minutes.

Sunday, June 21, 1:30 pm

“Life and Death: The Earth-Sun Connection”: a talk by Dr. Bethany Cobb Kung, George Washington University

The influence of the Sun on life on Earth is complex — without the Sun, life couldn’t exist and yet the Sun will eventually render the Earth uninhabitable. This talk considers the various connections between the Sun and the Earth — from solar energy, to coronal mass ejections that trigger aurora, to the ultimate fate of our solar system. Bring your active brains, as the talk will feature interactive elements.

Bethany Cobb Kung is an astronomer who received her Ph.D. at Yale University in 2008 for research on massive stellar explosions. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Honors and Physics at The George Washington University, where she studies gamma-ray bursts and teaches physics and astronomy primarily to non-science majors.

Recommended for all ages.

Sunday, June 21, 3:00 pm

Movie: Accidental Astronauts

Follow the adventures of Cy and Annie and their dog Armstrong as they embark on an unexpected journey into space! Explore the Earth, Sun and Moon system with a wisecracking starship computer. Bounce along with them on the surface of the Moon. Get up close and personal with a solar storm. And gain a new appreciation of our home planet.

Program duration: 35 min; suitable for all ages.

Alice Monet and Karin McLaughlin contributed text to this article.

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