“How big is the universe?” is the question that will be addressed Friday, October 14 at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI). The public is invited to a presentation by PARI Science Director Dr. Michael Castelaz entitled “Frontiers of Astronomy: How Big is the Universe Really?” The evening’s activities will include a tour of the PARI campus and celestial observations using PARI’s optical or radio telescopes.
As part of PARI’s monthly Evening at PARI series, Dr. Castelaz will discuss how astronomers measure the vast distances across the universe. “If the Sun were only 4 inches across,” Castelaz said, “the nearest star would be located in Tucson, Arizona, based on that scale. If you could travel at the speed of light, you would need almost 6 hours to get to Pluto. The distances between the stars and planets are huge, but the size of the universe is mind-boggling.
Measuring distances in space is a series of steps from direct measurement to the nearest objects, to more and more indirect means. Astronomers call this the Distance Ladder of Space. During the presentation, we will climb the Distance Ladder from the lowest rung in the Solar System, to higher rungs in our local neighborhood of stars and finally to the top extending our view across our Galaxy and beyond.”
The Evening at PARI program will begin at 7:00 p.m. with a site tour, followed by the presentation and observing session. Each participant will also have the opportunity to have a photo taken with a PARI telescope and will receive a subscription to the PARI newsletter and a 10% discount on PARI merchandise.
Reservations are required and will be accepted until 3:00 p.m. the day of the event. Evening at PARI programs cost $20 per adult, $15 for seniors/military and $10 for children under 14. Register and pay online at www.pari.edu or call (828) 862-5554.
For additional information contact PARI Science Educator Christi Whitworth at firstname.lastname@example.org. Program details and directions to the site can be found at the PARI web site, www.pari.edu.
About PARI: The Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) is a public not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) foundation established in 1998. Located in the Pisgah Forest 30 miles southwest of Asheville, NC, the PARI campus is a dark sky location for astronomy and was selected in 1962 by NASA as the site for one of the first U.S. satellite tracking facilities. Today, the 200 acre campus houses radio and optical telescopes, earth science instruments, 30 buildings, a fulltime staff and all the infrastructure necessary to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and research. PARI offers educational programs at all levels, from K-12 through post-graduate research. The institute is a member of the NC Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative, a partner in NC OPT-ED and is affiliated with the 16-campus University of North Carolina system through PARSEC, a UNC Center hosted at PARI. For more information about PARI and its programs, visit www.pari.edu.