15th Annual Open House a Success!

schedule 1 minute
Astronomy & Cosmology
An overview of the annual Carnegie Observatories Open House day of astro-loving fun.
Open House attendees learn about the history of astronomy in the Observatories' library

On Sunday, October 16th we held the 15th annual open house at our Santa Barbara St. campus. With the help of over 50 volunteers from Carnegie, GMTO, Caltech and JPL, we hosted a variety of displays and family-friendly activities and welcomed more than 600 guests from 2pm to 5pm that afternoon. This year our open house kicked off a week of astronomy in Pasadena, and the mayor of Pasadena Terry Tornek presented a proclamation at our open house and presented each of the Astronomy institutes in Pasadena with a certificate commemorating the event.

This year we emphasized a theme of “Spectroscopy,” and our volunteers sported matching Carnegie Obs T-Shirts with spectra of the elements on them

Holding to our theme of spectroscopy, one of our new activities, spearheaded by Alan Uomoto, was a display all about spectra and how Astronomers use them to study the Universe. To view the display, our guests each received a pair of sporty diffraction-grating glasses:

Our library hosted a display of historical artifacts curated by John Grula and a choice selection of plates from our vault carefully chosen by Cindy Hunt, with Astronomers on hand to answer questions from visitors.

Visiting kids had a chance to get an Astronomy Passport created by Rachael Beaton stamped at each of the displays and activities, including the Make-Your-Own-Constellation table-an activity introduced and lead by Stephanie Tonnesen.

The always-popular “Ask an Astronomer” hosted a new twist this year: for those unsure what to ask, a wheel of choices was provided by our friends at the Giant Magellan Telescope Damien Jemison and Amanda Kocz!

This year we dedicated our conference room to an exhibition about Las Campanas Observatory, with pictures, maps, books and more on display, curated by Gwen Rudie. Roberto Bermudez was also on hand straight from LCO to talk about Chile!

The Redshift Carpet as back for the second time this year, designed by Cindy Hunt. Our guests could travel through space-time and take their pictures from inside the Milky Way out to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field!

Staff from the Giant Magellan Telescope hosted a booth at the Open House to share the latest news about the ongoing development and construction:

The shop had several displays run by Vince Kowal, Robert Storts and Greg Ortiz. Guests could view a live demonstration of the CNC machine and play with a Galilean Cannon attached to the ceiling.



Tom Meneghini and Michael Rudy from Mt. Wilson brought a solar telescope and joined Chris Burns who was conducting solar viewings through our own Hα telesope.

Volunteers from the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center brought a thermal infrared camera to show our guests how they would look to aliens with IR eyes.


Kids could learn first hand about Doppler effect and its relation to redshift and blueshift:

This year our speakers were Johanna Teske and Katey Alatalo who talked about how we use spectra to study planets, stars and galaxies!

A huge thanks to all of those who were able to help make our 15th open house a huge success! Thanks to Damien Jemison, Christophe Marcade, Rachael Beaton, Marja Seidel and Cindy Hunt for the photos used in this piece.