Photo from physics.sunysb.edu
By David Sheridan
Students, parents and children all gathered on Thursday night to enjoy Stony Brook’s Astrofest 2016. Astrofest celebrates the discoveries and advancements in our studies of space.
The event was put on by Stony Brook’s Astronomy Club on Thursday, May 5. Members of the club were around the main floor of the Earth and Space Sciences building giving presentations on different aspects of astronomy.
Attendees could learn about a variety of space themed topics from comets to cosmic rays to the discovery of water on Mars.
One topic on display was the Golden Record. The Golden Record is a record that was launched with the Voyager spacecraft back in 1977. Engraved on the record is a description of where we, on Earth, are in the galaxy.
Also on the record are noises to be played by any extraterrestrial life that may find it. The sounds included are natural noises, man-made sounds, like a train, and music from that era in time. Some artists included on the record are Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. “Elvis is out there somewhere,” said club member Brian Walker. “That kinda creeps me out.”
There was also a tour of our solar system — shrunken down to the scale of the Academic Mall. From the fountain by the administration building all the way back to the Earth and Space Sciences building, Astronomy Club treasurer Tim Sarro gave the first of several tours to a group of students, along with several children and their parents. Sarro gave the group information on all the planets, including Pluto, along with the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt.
Sarro told the group about the distance from the sun of the planets, their makeup and relative size in the scale of the tour. Sarro gave information on his favorite planet, Jupiter, as well. “It keeps us safe,” said Sarro, in reference to the fact that due to Jupiter’s great size, it can change the course of asteroids that may head for Earth.
Astrofest also had more unique ways to educate their crowd. A game room was set up where two people could face off against each other in a game of “Black Hole Pong,” a variation on the classic video game. Each player controlled a black hole and would have to use their gravitational force to try and shoot a ball past their opponent.
They also had a room dedicated to showing the first run of the show “Cosmos” hosted by scientist Carl Sagan.
The Astronomy Club delivered a night of fun and education that was great for all ages. Even Wolfie came down to show his support for the annual Astrofest.