‘Starry Night White House Watch Party’ looks to the sky from Leitner Observatory Oct. 19

October 15, 2015

A constellation of stargazers soon will stretch from Yale’s Science Hill to the White House lawn.

On Monday, Oct. 19, Yale will take part in a national Astronomy Night, intended to highlight advances in space exploration and stress the importance of expanding science opportunities for students and adults. It is the second stargazing event organized by the Obama administration; the first was in 2009.

Yale’s Department of Astronomy will set up telescopes, weather permitting, at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium, from 7 to 10 p.m. There also will be free planetarium shows during the event, and Yale astronomers will be on hand to offer information and instruction. The observatory is located at 355 Prospect St.

The stargazing and planetarium shows — which are being called the “Starry Night White House Watch Party” — are open to the public.

“Today, astronomers are able to look out and witness the cosmos in action and learn about the near and far universe — from our backyard that appears strewn with planets around other stars, to the very distant universe from where we capture the light emitted by the first galaxies that formed,” said Priyamvada Natarajan, a professor of astronomy and physics. “Yale is invested in training the next generation of STEM students who will make many more exciting discoveries in astronomy and many other fields.”

In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama will host a group of scientists and engineers from the space industry to talk with students and teachers gathered on the South Lawn of the White House. The administration has asked universities, museums, planetariums, observatories, and astronomy clubs around the country to organize their own events in conjunction with national Astronomy Night.

- YaleNews press release by Jim Shelton