Esperanza’s Housing and Economic Development department and the Franklin Institute have worked together for more than three years to bring the wonder of science to the North Philadelphia community. With Discovery Days in Hunting Park , Creation Stations in Esperanza College, and Sun Viewing at the community garden, Esperanza’s Star Party has become one of the most successful science-related events yet.
On Friday, October 16th, over 500 community members came to Esperanza to get a view of the night sky not so readily available in the city. Several galileoscopes and professional telescopes donated by NASA through The Franklin Institute were provided to observe the night sky including stunning views of the moon, the stars, and even Saturn. Other activities included building constellations and learning why and how we have moon phases.
The Star Party is part of City Skies, a program managed by the Franklin Institute and sponsored by NASA that seeks to, “prepare neighborhood and community leaders in Philadelphia to use simple but effective observation tools and NASA’s educational web content to help their inner-city Philadelphia neighbors learn about space science and technology.” As part of this program, Planetarium Programs Director and Chief Astronomer at The Franklin Institute, Derrick Pitts, attended the Esperanza Star Party to provide guidance and speak with community members about the night sky. Pitts said of Esperanza’s event, “[Esperanza’s] events are becoming the model of success for community science programs, particularly astronomy… It’s not just the numbers but that you served an audience that probably hasn’t had much opportunity to learn about the night sky and see objects so well before right in the neighborhood.”
The Hunting Park Community Science Network is a collaboration of APM, ASPIRA, Inc., Ayuda Community Center, Edison High School, Esperanza, Inc., Esperanza College, Historic Fair Hill, Hunting Park United, the Lenfest Center, The Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Technology, and Zion Baptist Church.