Robert Ferguson Observatory is launching a new speaker series for 2021, consisting of monthly presentations geared to the general public about various astronomy-related topics. The presentations are free to the public and are currently being offered virtually, until the time when the observatory itself can open back up to the public.
The presentations are being held the second Friday evening of each month, at 6 p.m. The first was held on February 12 was led by Rachel Freed, a docent at the Robert Ferguson Observatory who has been an educator and amateur astronomer for over 20 years. She is a co-founder and the president of the Institute for Student Astronomical Research (InStAR), working with students and educators around the world to help bring research opportunities to students. She is also the editor of the Journal of Double Star Observations, and a faculty member in the School of Education at Sonoma State University.
“My presentation focused on how I turned my passion for astronomy into a profession and the role that RFO played in my journey,” says Freed. “I discussed my astronomy outreach, astronomy research and publication programs, global participation and my role on editorial committees and boards.”
Future presentation topics include the Mars’ atmosphere, the Fermi paradox and Drake equation (the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations and various high estimates for their probability), and many more. Speakers will include both RFO docents and other experts outside the organization. In addition, the observatory is exploring offering some presentations in Spanish.
“We are following the county’s orders to not hold public events indoors,” says Chris Cable, Executive Director of Robert Ferguson Observatory. “But our knowledgeable and dedicated docents managed to create programs that will help inspire the public and continue our mission of bringing the universe to our community.”
The speaker series is one of several programs the observatory is offering to the public during Covid. Since last summer RFO has also offered a variety of outdoor public events. Visit rfo.org to see the calendar of upcoming events for more information. The next discussion will be held March 12.
About Robert Ferguson Observatory (RFO) –
Robert Ferguson Observatory is run by the Valley of the Moon Observatory Association, a 501(3)(c) non-profit, and has offered outreach-based astronomy and science programs to the public for almost 25 years. RFO is almost all-volunteer run and typically serves about 9,000 visitors annually. The observatory is located in Sugarloaf State Park and houses a 40-inch reflector telescope, the largest telescope in Northern California that is accessible to the public; a robotic 20-inch research-grade, “CCD” telescope; and an 8”, two-meter long refractor telescope. Like us on Facebook @RobertFergusonObservatory.
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