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Aug 11, 6:00 PM at the Fairbanks Museum.

This event is FREE and open to everyone.stars across a dark sky with a telescope in the foreground

Join Jean Wright and Dr. Ken Kremer for this informative and exciting presentation as they share their photographic record of launches and robotic spacecraft. Hear their stories and impressions as they describe the photos, along with the sights and sounds of a launch and the rebirth of US human spaceflight. In addition, they will share some of the other sights from the Kennedy Space Center, including photos of the new SLS moon rocket that is getting ready for launch in 2022. See photos of other missions such as LUCY and Mars Perseverance/Ingenuity mosaics. 2022 promises to be another exciting and active year for launches and they will update us on what is coming up. Finally, they will share some insights and hints to aid your own experiences if you decide to visit the space coast and take in a launch.

Jean Wright is a former NASA Aerospace Composite Tech. Also knows as a NASA seamstress, Jean worked with the United Space Alliance at the Thermal Protection System Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. One of 18 seamstresses in this critical role, Jean and her co-workers dubbed their group, “The Sew Sisters”, using machines and hand stitching to build, create and repair thermal protection flight hardware and parachutes. Wright would go on to work on the Endeavor, Atlantis and Discovery space shuttle missions. She also worked on test parachutes and aft-skirt blankets for the Orion spacecraft.

Now retired, Jean remains involved with NASA as a Docent for the Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center. She is a member of NASA’s Speakers Bureau, representing the organization at civic, professional, educational and public events. She has been a keynote speaker at the MQX Quilt Festival in 2018, Women’s History Month at KSCVC in 2018, Family Day at the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum in 2016, the International Quilt Festival with Astronaut Karen Nyberg and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. One of her life’s biggest thrills was being asked by Mark Armstrong to cut and prepare for auction, pieces of historic muslin fabric from the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer that his father, Neil Armstrong, carried to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 Lunar Module.

Dr. Ken Kremer is a research chemist, space/science journalist and founder of Space UpClose website reporting up close on all things related to NASA and Space Exploration. Ken has over 30 years experience in Research and Development in the Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences in academia and at Cyanamid, Wyeth and Pfizer.  Products he helped develop are sold in the marketplace to benefit humanity.

Ken received his BA from New York University in New York City and PhD from the State University of New York in Stony Brook. He did Post Doctoral studies at the University of Bonn in Germany. Dr. Kremer holds 17 US Patents, has over 3 dozen scientific publications, written over 1000 space articles and has 14 published APODs – Astronomy Pictures of the Day.

Ken also has a 2 decade career in space journalism and outreach. He was recently awarded NASA’s rarely given Curiosity medallion by NASA’s Chief Scientist for his science outreach efforts and Mars panoramas. He appears as a space expert commentator on BBC TV and Radio News, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS, Spectrum, ARD, i24 and other major news outlets. He has presented hundreds of space lectures at astronomy clubs and forums, schools, educational and religious institutions, companies and conventions.

artemis orbitThe Fairbanks Museum is home to the only public planetarium in Vermont, and our astronomy educators are connected with the latest NASA projects. We'll bring a passion for space exploration and astronomy events to this monthly conversation, where you can bring your questions and observations. Together, we'll discover the latest images from deep space, once-in-a-lifetime astronomical occurrences, and advances in space technology that make our solar system more accessible. We'll also uncover new mysteries and celebrate achievements in understanding our universe.

Drawing on monthly updates from planetarium director Mark Breen, astronomy and spaceflight presenter Christian Bradley Hubbs will highlight a few topics with images and deeper explanations. Come with questions or simply listen-in for your Night Owl inspiration that will help you read the night sky through the month.

Tune in at 7:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month to “talk shop” with astronomy and spaceflight presenters, educators, and experts.

For more about spaceflight and launches, check our Night Owl Launch Watch.

How can stars and planets be differentiated in the night sky?

Stars can come in a wide variety of colors and brightnesses. This is determined by the star's size, type, and distance from the Solar System. A relatively close, small star can appear just as bright as a very distant but colossal star. Stars can be seen in colors like red, orange, yellow, white, and blue. However, despite the variety, the actual view of the stars doesn't change very much (except over the course of thousands or millions of years).

Planets, contrastingly, change their appearance very regularly, and can usually be distinguished fairly easily from stars with a few simple tips. Most visible planets are much brighter than most of the stars. However there are some very bright stars that rival the brightness of the planets, so next, the position of the objects must be considered. All of the visible planets will appear along a single line in the sky, called the ecliptic. This is the same line the Sun and Moon move along, and also the line along which all of the zodiac constellations can be found. So, if you see a particularly bright object and it is roughly in a line from where the Sun is setting or rising, or along with the Moon, then it is very likely a planet.

Determining which planet it is can be a bit less clear. First, if the planet is nowhere in the same part of the sky as the Sun (like being out overhead near midnight) then Mercury and Venus, the two innermost planets, can be ruled out. If the object is distinctly red then it is likely the planet Mars, UNLESS it is near the constellation of Scorpius (visible from ~February to October) where the red star Antares resides. The name literally derives from “anti-Ares”, with Ares being the Greek name for the deity which the Romans named Mars. AKA “Not Mars”; the ancient astronomers were very specific about not getting these two red objects along the ecliptic mixed up. Other planets such as Jupiter and Saturn will appear as a whitish-yellow, while the two outermost giant planets will be much dimmer and require the observer to know exactly where to look: Uranus is the most distant planet visible to the human eye, is pale blue-green, and can blend in with other stars of mediocre brightness. Neptune requires binoculars or a telescope to be seen, and has a dark blue color.