UNG planetarium to host NASA event

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is set to blast into orbit later this year, and the University of North Georgia has been chosen to help mark the historic achievement.

Dr. Lesley Simanton-Coogan, director of the George E. Coleman Sr. Planetarium at UNG, explained the significance of the James Webb Space Telescope is it can examine infrared light, which cannot be seen by the human eye.

“It will revolutionize everything we look at in space,” she said. “And it is a NASA telescope, which is largely funded by the U.S. government. So it is our telescope and people can come to this event and learn about it.”

UNG’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will host a Webb Telescope Community Special Event in two languages on two campuses. The first event will be 5-9:30 p.m. Oct. 22 on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus. The second will be 7-9:30 p.m. Oct. 23 on the Gainesville Campus.

The speaker both days will be Dr. Rosa Diaz, the mission engineering and science analysis branch deputy at Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. In her role, she manages several technical and science teams that support cross-instrument projects for the Hubble, James Webb and Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.

“I hope to inspire others, particularly young minds, to advance our knowledge in science and technology by pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields,” Diaz said.

Diaz will deliver her first virtual talk in English to the Dahlonega Campus. Her second, also virtual, will be in Spanish to the Gainesville Campus. Simanton-Coogan said since Gainesville has a large Hispanic population, it was important to share Diaz’s talk in her native language.

“We wanted to reach out to more people in the community and share this historic moment,” Simanton-Coogan, lecturer of astronomy, said.

Webb Telescope Community Special Event at UNG

  • Who: Dr. Rosa Diaz will deliver a virtual talk. She is a mission engineering and science analysis branch deputy at Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • When: 5-9:30 p.m. Oct. 22 on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus, and 7-9:30 p.m. Oct. 23 on the Gainesville Campus.

Diaz’s presentation will be broadcast on a large screen on both campuses for in-person attendees. Both speeches will be online with links available by filling out the Webb event Interest form. Audiences also may ask Diaz questions during the talks. A recording of Diaz’s talk in English will be broadcast on the Gainesville Campus.

In addition to Diaz, the two-day, NASA-designated event will feature planetarium shows, hands-on activities, and telescope viewing. UNG’s planetarium and observatory will be open on Oct. 22 in Dahlonega. On the Gainesville Campus, portable telescopes will be set up for viewing, weather permitting.

“I hope this will be a lot of fun for our students as well as the community,” Simanton-Coogan said.

To reserve a space for the show, visit the planetarium’s website.



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