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BYU Astrofest May 14 offers free astronomical fun

Do you enjoy stargazing, rocket launching or just having fun with science? The Brigham Young University Physics and Astronomy Department, along with the BYU Astronomical Society, will host the 2011 Astrofest Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This free event is open to the public and will take place at the Carl F. Eyring Science Center, located east of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.

Those who attend Astrofest will be given supplies for creating and launching their own rockets. There will also be a free “Mars Mission Training,” where guests can climb a rock wall and an obstacle course, simulating the rough terrain that astronauts would encounter on Mars.

“The last few years that we have done Astrofest, we have had hundreds of families and kids show up,” said Jeannette Lawler, coordinator of this year’s event. “Many of those who attended last year have been calling me this year because they don’t want to miss it.”

This year, more tours and demonstrations have been added. Students and professors will illustrate Newton’s Laws and give tours of the anechoic and reverberation rooms. Safely looking at the sun will also be an option, thanks to telescopes with a special filter. Volunteers will help visitors as they use this special equipment to view sunspots on the sun.

The Royden G. Derrick Planetarium on the fourth floor of the Eyring Science Center will also have shows every half hour to allow for daytime stargazing.

“Astrofest is a lot of fun for all ages,” Lawler said. “There are always activities for the kids, and you can come when you want, stay as long as you want and leave when you are done.”

David Derrick, an amateur astronomer and member of the BYU President’s Leadership Council, provided funding for the event.

In case of inclement weather, many of the activities will be moved to the Wilkinson Student Center. Parking is free but attendees should observe all service-vehicle and handicap-parking zones.

For more information, visit astrofest.byu.edu or contact Lynn Patten at (801) 422-4022 or lynn_patten@byu.edu.

Follow BYU events on Twitter: @BYUcalendar.

Writer: Mel Gardner

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