The inaugural Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo (ASAE) will kick off at the Tucson Convention Center tomorrow, Saturday, November 10 and is certain to enthrall science buffs of all ages. Event Director, Alan Traino, is a solar telescope pioneer, a highly respected member of the astronomy community, and a proponent of science education for young Americans. For the past three years, along with my Meteorite Men co-host Steve Arnold, I have been a speaker at Alan’s Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) in New York. NEAF is the largest astronomy event in the world and I know from personal experience that Alan is one of the foremost promoters and organizers of science-related events in the country.
“2012 is our first year here,” said Alan Traino, “but we are going to build on it, and Tucson will be the center of the astronomy universe within five years.”
For this weekend’s Tucson expo, Alan and his associates have put together a stellar lineup of speakers, including NASA astronauts Story Musgrave and Donald Petit; Canadian scientist Dr. Carin Bondar, “The Biologist with a Twist, a brilliant science writer, blogger and television personality; Dr. Phil Plait, AKA “The Bad Astronomer,” who delights thousands of fans around the world with his illuminating writing and lectures; astronomy writer and podcaster Dr. Pamela L. Gay, solar telescope expert Stephen Ramsden; Adam Block from the Mount Lemmon Sky Center, and Dr. Steele Hill of NASA’s Goddard SOHO mission.
I was honored by the invitation to put together a meteorite panel entitled, “Out of the Sky: How Meteorites have Changed the World.” The panel begins at 10 am on Sunday, November 11, and will be moderated by asteroid expert and former Meteorite magazine editor, Dr. Larry Lebofsky. The panelists are Dr. Melissa Morris from ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies; world famous meteorite hunter Sonny Clary; Director of Operations for Aerolite Meteorites, LLC and Meteorite Men location photographer, Suzanne Morrison; and myself. NASA Edge TV will be filming the panel for live broadcast, and interested parties are invited to watch it live on the web.
In addition to the scheduled speaking events the Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo will be offering remote telescope viewing with the Mount Lemmon Sky Center, imaging workshops, ongoing digital planetarium shows, daytime solar observing and night time viewing through an impressive array of telescopes. The expo “will be featuring exhibitors and manufacturers of astronomical products from around the world, including telescopes, binoculars, mounts, cameras, domes, and all related accessories. You can also shop for all your extras including meteorites, flashlights, gifts, and much more.”
The Mule, the special expedition vehicle seen in action on Meteorite Men, Globe Trekker, and How the Earth was Made will be on display for the entire weekend.
In addition, NASA has generously loaned an extraordinary collection of historic memorabilia and artifacts to the expo, including flown space suits and their display collection of meteorites.
“We are trying to engage our young people and show them that it’s cool to be a science geek,” said John Joseph, President of Starlight Instruments and an exhibitor at the event. “We may not have a space program anymore, but some of the kids attending ASAE this weekend are going to grow up and start their own.”
Admission is only $10 each day and includes access to all exhibits and talks. Kids under 12 receive free admission with an adult, and veterans are invited to accept complimentary admission on Sunday.