The Observatories kicked off 2019 with an exciting new community outreach event here in Pasadena—our first Neighborhood Astronomy Night! We worked with our Pasadena City Council district to plan an outreach event that would reach the community surrounding our Santa Barbara Street headquarters.
The program occurred January 18th at the nearby Villa Parke Community Center, located a few blocks from the Observatories’ offices. Villa Parke hosts regular activities and events for the local community and their excellent staff helped us prepare. There is a large Spanish-speaking community in our neighborhood, so bilingual material and astronomers who are fluent in Spanish were an important element of the initiative.
A massive team effort helped make the night a success. Astronomers from Carnegie, Caltech, Mount Wilson Observatory, and Las Campanas Observatory, as well as representatives from several other groups, all volunteered to run an interactive spectroscopy display, give planetarium shows, and answer space-related questions from the attendees. LCO’s Javiera Rey and Nidia Morrell came all the way from Chile to give talks in both English and Spanish.
Several telescopes were provided by the Los Angeles Astronomical Society for evening stargazing and family and friends helped hand out material and direct guests. Local Boy Scout Joseph DiGiovanni aided with planning and executing the festivities as part of his effort to become an Eagle Scout. DiGiovanni coordinated the help of more than a dozen Boy Scouts and their families, all of whom were essential in aiding with setting up, running, and taking down the display materials and activities.
More than 250 guests attended our inaugural Neighborhood Astronomy Night. The program would not have been possible without the contributions all of the various groups that worked on it. Thanks to our community for helping us make such a great evening—hopefully the first of many!