FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2018
Mary Ann Hatchitt
(Albuquerque, NM) - Experience Asteroid Day at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. From 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, learn about asteroids, their impacts on Earth, and NASA’s mission to the asteroid belt.
In the ViewSpace Theater, the museum will be streaming a special live broadcast of other Asteroid Day celebrations around the world. Hear from astronomy experts about the nature of asteroids and how they influenced Earth’s history. The video will continue throughout the day on June 30 during the museum’s normal hours. Find out more at: asteroidday.org/live
Solar observing will be offered by Timmy Telescope Solar Astronomy Outreach from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. if the sky is clear. Safely examine any activity on the sun that day through special telescopes in front of the museum entrance.
Asteroid Day will feature hands-on activities for the family starting at 10 a.m. The center of the museum’s acclaimed Walk Through Time shows the dramatic asteroid impact that researchers believe lead to the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. On this day only, museum geologist Jayne Aubele will lead a guided tour of the area and describe exactly why scientist think a rock from the sky changed the course of Earth’s development. Participants should assemble at the bleachers next to the T-Rex in the museum atrium at 11 a.m.
At 12 p.m., the planetarium will present a sneak peak of a new planetarium feature entitled Incoming! Asteroids and comets have collided with our planet throughout its history, changing the course of life on Earth and shaping the world we know today. Explore the past, present, and future of our Solar System and the landmark discoveries scientists have made sending spacecraft to visit tiny worlds. This program will be presented on Asteroid Day only and added to the regular planetarium schedule later in the year.
At 1 p.m. Dr. Thomas Prettyman, a scientist with NASA’s Dawn Mission, will present a talk about what the spacecraft has discovered on the dwarf planet Ceres, the major asteroid Vesta, and other objects in the asteroid belt. After the talk at approximately 2 p.m., Dr. Prettyman will conduct a guided tour of the exhibition he curated: Dawn’s Mission to the Asteroid Belt. On display until March, 2019, this temporary exhibit describes how the Dawn spacecraft works and what amazing discoveries it’s made between Mars and Jupiter.
Admission to the exhibit tours, planetarium show, talk, and all of the other Asteroid Day activities are included with admission to the da Vinci exhibit or planetarium. The record-attendance-setting Da Vinci — The Genius exhibition will close only one month after Asteroid Day, making this an excellent opportunity to visit the museum with many extra activities included at no additional cost.
Finally, for anyone who wishes to come back to the museum campus that evening, a telescope will be set up on the Mountain Rd. sidewalk to view interesting objects in the night sky, weather permitting. From 9 – 10 p.m., it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to see asteroids, but the planets Jupiter and Saturn may be studied. Admission will be by donation. Because of another event happening that evening, the museum will not be open and no bathrooms or other facilities will be available. Also, this part of Asteroid Day will be canceled if there are clouds in the sky.
Asteroid Day happens on June 30 every year and is an international campaign to educate people worldwide about asteroids, the impact hazard they may pose, and what we can do to protect our planet, families, communities, and future generations. Events held in various cities on Asteroid Day range from professional lectures and personalized programs for the public to live entertainment, all to help raise public awareness and support for ways to increase detection and tracking of asteroids. Find out more from the event’s international site: asteroidday.org
About Dr. Prettyman:
Dr. Tom Prettyman is one of several Planetary Science Institute scientists working in New Mexico and is proud to call Albuquerque home. Tom’s Ph.D. is in Nuclear Engineering, and his area of expertise is planetary remote sensing. He has experience working on NASA planetary missions, including Lunar Prospector and 2001 Mars Odyssey. He is a coinvestigator of the Dawn mission, for which he serves as the lead for the Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND), the only US payload instrument.