People were just beginning to gather in Esperanza’s parking lot as the sun was setting on the evening of Friday, Oct. 27. Over 200 friends and neighbors came to enjoy another Star Party, one of Esperanza’s most popular events, hosted in partnership with The Franklin Institute’s City Skies program and NASA. It was the third such event of 2017, following the April Star Party and the summer Eclipse Party.
The Star Party featured ten of Esperanza’s telescopes set up throughout the parking lot, as well as one professional-grade telescope from the Franklin Institute manned by an amateur astronomer. Participants were able to investigate the night sky, hunting for stars and visible planets. The astronomer helped many of them find Saturn and was engaged with attendees, many of them students, for most of the evening.
Gabriella Paez, EHED Education and Community Development Coordinator at Esperanza, was encouraged by the turnout, especially of young people.
“Our Star Parties attract hundreds of young people every year, which is remarkable,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to attend many other astronomy events, some at amazing sites, and I have noticed the lack of young people at these events.”
Ms. Paez emphasized the importance of the Star Parties in helping students to engage with science and astronomy. “What we are doing is breaking the barriers for our young people to experience astronomy in engaging ways which can lead to an increase in interest in the astronomy fields and potential careers.,” she said. “We are breaking the financial barrier by giving these young people access to telescopes which can be expensive to acquire. We are breaking the knowledge barrier by bringing astronomers to their neighborhood. Lastly, we are breaking the stereotypes, allowing these young people to see that astronomy is also for them.”
Esperanza looks forward to hosting our next Star Party on April 20, 2018.