Science enthusiasts of any age would be thrilled to earn a ticket to meet the Mythbusters, Bill Nye, and President Obama at the White House Astronomy Night. It’s a heady evening, with highlights like talks from four NASA astronauts currently on the International Space Station, virtual reality Mars walks, and moon-viewing through some extremely impressive telescopes.
The event on Monday, October 19th was just the second ever Astronomy Night, a tradition the President and First Lady hope will continue to inspire American girls and boys into lifelong passions for science and space in particular. For this event is for children.
The several hundred attendees, chosen by their schools, are between 12 and 16. Most of them, despite their youth, have already participated in apprenticeship programs. For some, like twelve-year-old Scarlett Garcia from Chicago, coming to Washington D.C. is their first time on a plane, but their hearts are already in the stars.
In conjunction with the White House, more than 80 concurrent astronomy events were held across the country by National Parks, museums, and schools in 35 states, Puerto Rico, and even a NATO base in Europe.
As part of the evening’s objectives, President Obama also announced new private-sector businesses committed to supporting his “Educate to Innovate” campaign, desired to spur a growth in interest in STEM fields, particularly in groups historically underrepresented in those fields. The announcements included a new NASA telescope launch in 2018, two foundations committing to sponsoring after-school STEM experiences for more than half a million students, Bayer and National PTA’s efforts to engage parents in their children’s STEM experiences, and Boston’s new 5-year campaign to improve STEM experiences in all middle schools.
White House Astronomy Night on whitehouse.gov