Science Museum Features Astronaut at SkyDay Night
The Science Museum of Virginia kicked off a summer of skygazing activity over the weekend, featuring a visit from Virginia Tech graduate and astronaut Roger Crouch. Charles Fishburne has more in this WCVE-News Science Matters report.
The Science Museum of Virginia became a portal to outer space Friday night as stargazers and budding young astronauts came to contemplate the universe and our remarkably unique place in it.
Conti: ... make a star chart, later on tonight look outside at a telescope.
Richard Conti, Director and CEO, invited a standing-room audience to come and meet astronaut Roger Crouch, a Virginia Tech graduate who began dreaming about flying into outer space when he was ten.
Crouch: I was about ten years old and I saw this movie called "Destination Moon" and at the end of it, they said 'the end or the beginning?' and I thought 'Aha! Here's a frontier that I can be part of the exploration of'; no person had ever been into space at that time; it was a science fiction movie, we didn't have rockets or anything, and from that day on, I always wanted to go to the moon.
But it took the small-town Tennessee boy forty-seven years to get into space.
Crouch: I'm probably the oldest person that ever got picked at fifty-six.
Roger Crouch spent over 471 hours gazing at sights like this one, and telling youngsters how important it is never to give up their dreams.
Crouch: Anything you want to achieve, you have to be persistent, you have to allow yourself to take risks, and by that, I mean try new things, meet new people, go different places; don't do stupid things like jumping out of trees and stuff but, and then just always never give up, that's the most important thing. If you, you know, Thomas Edison, I think, said that it took him over a thousand tries to invent a light bulb, and they said 'well, what did you learn?' and he said 'I learned 999 ways not to build a light bulb.' Thanks, Henry, look for you on Mars, dude.
The night was all about sharing the excitement of discovery, and outside, members of the Richmond Astronomical Society were setting up for a night of star-gazing and inviting people to take a look.
Browder: For me, the most interesting experiences are when somebody looks through a telescope for the first time and they see the rings of Saturn or they see, you know, a star cluster and that 'wow' moment, they look up from the telescope and they say 'wow! I've never seen that before.' That moment is really, really rewarding.
Jim Browder donates his time and his telescope and shares his passion for the skies. But you won't need a telescope to see a celestial show set for August 12th, the Perseid showers.
Bohinsky: Well, the Perseid meteor shower is of the most reliable meteor showers of the year; it will be peaking on the night of August 12th. We'll see more meteors after midnight and after the moon sets; the moon will be setting early, so there won't be any moonlight interference. The meteor shower produces up to ninety meteors per hour if you're in a dark sky away from city lights.
So the best way to see them?
Bohinsky: The best way to see it is just lie back and look up and keep your eyes on the sky, because as soon as you blink or turn your head, you'll miss one.
Astronomer Leslie Bohinsky is about to give a guided tour of the current sky and maybe talk about that "killer" meteor Hollywood likes to feature. There is a real hunk of space rock across the museum that you can actually touch, a gravity well to show you how it got here, a pendulum to show just how precisely the earth rotates, and a Segway to demonstrate speed and balance.
Martin: I'm Arianna Martin.
And how old are you:
Martin: I'm thirteen years old.
And why are you doing this? What do you like about this?
Martin: Well, I love the Science Museum and I wanta become an engineer or a doctor when I grow up, so there's plenty to learn in the Science Museum.
It was a night for dreaming of the future and perhaps a walk in space is in store for somebody here; but for those of us destined to be earthbound, astronaut Roger Crouch has some thoughts.
What has been the most, single most exciting moment of your life to date?
Crouch: Well, that's tough. It's hard to pick a single moment, I think falling in love is really the highlight for all of us that have that opportunity, I think seeing some of my children born was something that's just irreplaceable, and of course, being lucky enough to get to go to space was pretty cool, also.
Astronaut Roger Crouch, who really has 'been there and done that,' sharing his stories during SkyDay Night at the Science Museum of Virginia.
Charles Fishburne, WCVE News
A video of this story will be posted on our website later today at www.ideastations.org.