A year ago I joined the Smithsonian Resident Associate Program, which supports the museums I enjoy going to with a $40 donation and entitles me to member rates for special programs.
Once a month I get a catalogue of courses, which range from tours of Civil War battlefields and series of photography workshops to talks by experts in every field imaginable.
Last night I went to my first event, star gazing at the Air and Space Museum.
I went with my friend Kristin, who has a passion for astronomy. She knew a lot about the subject already but I learned quite a lot.
When we arrived we went straight to the outdoor telescopes for viewing in the exceptionally clear sky. The large telescope in the observatory was trained on the Orion Nebulus, which didn’t impress me too much. Then we looked through a portable telescope at the terminator of the moon, where the lit face meets the black invisible part, where it would be sunrise if you were standing there. We could see craters on the surface. My favorite viewing, though, was of Jupiter and four of its moons so clearly in a second portable telescope.
From there we went inside to wander through exhibits on the history of astronomy and telescopes. And we finished up in an inflatable planetarium, which was a huge tentlike bubble inside which a guide projected images of the constellations on the roof and told stories of the Greek mythological figures that are represented.
It was an educational, interesting evening.