Astronomers gather on National Mall for festival Friday

WASHINGTON – Last week I wrote about how the local astronomical community is entering into prime time for star parties.

Tonight the trend continues with the annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall sponsored by Hofstra University. The event takes place from 6 to 11 p.m. and will feature telescopic viewing, exhibits, hands-on activities, a multimedia presentation and a chance to mingle with real astronomers.

As stated by the Hofstra University press release, “Representatives from some of the nation’s foremost scientific institutions will be on hand to present exciting demonstrations and activities and to answer questions about careers in science, celestial objects and events, and the latest astronomical discoveries including: George Mason University, George Washington University, the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Dark-Sky Association, Montgomery College, the National Science Foundation, The Pennsylvania State University, and the U.S. Naval Observatory.”

The list of representatives is a “who’s who” of local colleges, institutions and organizations involved in astronomy. With telescopes provided by local amateurs, there will be plenty of things to see in the night sky as Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and the Earth’s moon will all be visible tonight.

If you are out and about near the National Mall, stop on by and enjoy this astronomical get-together. You can get more information on the event and its location on the mall here.

I will not be able to be there as I will be at the University of Virginia participating in Public Night at McCormick Observatory. If you are in the Charlottesville area, please drop in from 9 to 11 p.m.

The weather looks good for Friday night, so spend some time under the stars.

Follow me on Twitter @SkyGuyinVa and my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at

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