Virtual Open House 2020
Every year in October, we throw our gates open and welcome the community to a fun-filled, Sun-filled day of learning about astronomy, engaging in space-themed crafts and activities, winning science prizes, and enjoying locally made ice cream and steel drum music. Unfortunately, that's just not possible this year. So instead we've created a way for you to safely replicate the experience from home. (You'll have to supply the music and ice cream, however.)
In the videos below, you can:
- Sneak a peek at some seldom-seen nooks and crannies in our building, like our astronomical plate vault and sub-basement ruling engine
- Meet some of our instrumentation specialists and learn how they use our Machine Shop to design experiments and drive new discoveries
- Hear about astronomical discoveries that happened during the 1918 Flu pandemic
- Tour Mount Wilson Observatory and Las Campanas Observatory, and learn about the Giant Magellan Telescope
- Learn about what our community asked our astronomers on social media
- Get instructions for at-home astro activities
You can also participate in daily #AskAnAstronomer polls on our Twitter feed and join us Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Pacific for a stargazing party on our Zoom channel.
We look forward to a time when we can once again welcome you to our Pasadena campus. Until then, please enjoy our 2020 Virtual Open House!
Every year, the Carnegie Observatories Library is one of the most popular stops at our Open House. Now you can experience its wonders without the crowds. Plus, our archivist, Kit Whitten, shares some astronomical plates showing the science that was being done by Observatories' astronomers during the 1918 Flu pandemic.
Moon Globe - Observatories Library
Albert Einstein's Visit
1918 Astronomical Plates
One of the things that makes the Carnegie Observatories such an exceptional place to work is the on-site machine shop that allows astronomers, engineers, and other experts to build instruments that maximize the abilities of our telescopes to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Get to know two of our instrumentation postdoctoral fellows, who explain how Carnegie enables them to explore the cosmos.
Meet Rosalie McGurk
Learn about Rosalie's work
Meet Alicia Lanz
Learn About Alicia's Work
Vault & Spectra
Even regular attendees of our annual Open House probably haven't seen our plate vault, home to the second largest collection of astronomical glass plates in the U.S., and they almost certainly haven't seen the subbasement where we used to manufacture our own diffraction gratings. Take a peek!
Enter the Plate Vault
Plate Vault - Direct Images
Plate Vault - Solar Room
Telescopes are central to what we do. Our founder, George Ellery Hale, built the 60-inch and 100-inch telescopes at Mt. Wilson Observatory, where Edwin Hubble discovered the universe. Now, our observational astronomers use the telescopes at our Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to make breakthrough discoveries about the cosmos. It is the home of the still-under-construction Giant Magellan Telescope, of which we are a founding partner. Learn more about all of these incredible facilities!
Mt. Wilson Observatory
Las Campanas Observatory - English
Las Campanas Observatory - Español
Giant Magellan Telescope FAQs Answered by Experts
Ask An Astronomer
Throughout the week of our Virtual Open House, we asked our friends and fans on Twitter to vote on questions that they'd like our astronomers to answer. We posted videos for the winning questions right away, but now you can see both sets of answers!
We want your help picking questions for our astronomers to answer. We'll be posting #AskAnAstronomer polls all week for our #VirtualOpenHouse2020! Videos responding to the winning question will be posted daily! What do YOU want to know? Vote for your favorite.— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 12, 2020
We want your help picking topics for our astronomers to explain. We'll be posting #AskAnAstronomer polls all week for our #VirtualOpenHouse2020! Videos responding to the winning subject will be posted daily! What do YOU want to know? Vote for your favorite.— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 12, 2020
What do you want to #AskAnAstronomer: 1) What makes some stars look brighter than others? -OR- 2) Why do different celestial objects appear to have different colors? We'll be running polls all week for our #VirtualOpenHouse2020 and we need your help!— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 13, 2020
We need your help! What would you rather #AskAnAstronomer: 1) Do black holes gobble up everything around them? -OR- 2) How long is a star’s lifetime? Vote now and we'll answer the winning question. #VirtualOpenHouse2020— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 13, 2020
It's telescope day for our #VirtualOpenHouse2020 #AskAnAstronomer polls. Do you want to know: 1) What's better, a ground-based or a space-based telescope -OR- 2) Why do you keep building bigger telescopes? Vote and we'll share the winning answer!— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 14, 2020
More telescope questions for our afternoon #AskAnAstronomer poll. What do you want to know: 1) How fast can a telescope find its target -OR- 2) Are bigger optics always better. You decide; we answer. #VirtualOpenHouse2020— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 14, 2020
Today, we are all about galaxies. So let us know, would you rather #AskAnAstronomer how many galaxies there are, or what is the biggest galaxy? You vote; we answer. #VirtualOpenHouse2020— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 15, 2020
Our #AskAnAstronomer poll is all galaxies, all the time today. What do you want to know: 1) Why are galaxies different shapes and colors? -OR- 2) What happens when galaxies collide? Vote, vote, vote and we will answer the winning question! #VirtualOpenHouse2020— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 15, 2020
What have you always wanted to #AskAnAstronomer about planets beyond our own Solar System? 1) How many exoplanets are there? -OR- 2)Do we know of any habitable exoplanets? Vote and one of our colleagues at @CarnegiePlanets will answer the winning question. #VirtualOpenHouse2020— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 16, 2020
We're going big for our final #VirtualOpenHouse2020 #AskAnAstronomer question. Would you rather know: 1) What was before the Big Bang? -OR- 2) Does the universe have an edge? These are keep-you-up-at-night questions. Which will you choose?— Carnegie Astronomy (@CarnegieAstro) October 16, 2020
Several of the fun space-themed activities you and your family may have enjoyed at our previous Open Houses can be done at home or in your virtual classroom. Just follow the instructions in the links below!
You may have experienced this fun demonstration in person at a previous open house. Here is a video of the cannon in action: