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April 28, 2011 / Dr. Toad

Jacobsen Observatory Evening Public Shows

The University of Washington Jacobsen Observatory has already started this year’s series of their free and awesome evening public shows. The next two shows will be (from their website):

  • May 4, 9 – 11 pm 9:00 pm Colin Gipner & Austin Rivers “Black Holes.” From mini- to super-massive, black holes rock.
  • May 18, 9 – 11 pm 9:00 pm Jason Sims “The Story of the Jacobsen Observatory”; Ryan Riley “The History of Telescopes.” Each talk will be between 15 and 20 minutes long.

Dr. Toad attended a good half of last year’s talks and shows, and I have to say that while I stand by their general awesomeness, it has to be qualified with a description of what happens. You can expect cool, high-power telescopes pointed at bright spots in the sky (watch for a break in the clouds!) and nearby astronomy undergraduates to tell you what they are and why what you see is amazing. There may be informative displays with visual and tactile aids telling you about the solar system, distant stars and galaxies, red shift, instruments to measure astronomical events, quarks and other things you’ve forgotten all about. You don’t have to go to the talks to see all that, and visit the 19th century telescope housed in the observatory. But if you do go to the talk, most awesomely, they’ll give you a pair of these:

Holographic diffraction grating glasses

Holographic diffraction grating glasses give you the spectrum of any point light source.

It’s way trippy and totally worth it. Be warned, however, that the talks are usually given by UW astronomy undergrads: it’s a learning experience for them and so the “performance” quality will vary. Last year, Dr. Toad even attended a talk on optics given by an undoubtedly genius middle-schooler, who nonetheless has a long way to go in public speaking. But give them a break! They’re learning to do cool things, and the event is free.

Make a reservation for the talks as the space only holds 45 people.

Corner of NE 45th Street and Memorial Way (17th Avenue NE), just East of the Burke Museum, North end of the UW campus.

Recommendation: Accept with minor revisions.

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