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NRAO science, engineering festival is Sunday

October 23, 2010
The Inter-Mountain

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is hosting an open-house science and engineering festival on Sunday at its facility in Green Bank. The festival will feature behind-the-scenes tours and numerous family friendly activities ranging from archaeology to hands-on model rocketry.

Scientists and engineers from the NRAO will join with staff from other organizations, including the U.S. Forest Service, local schools, Central Appalachian Astronomy Club and Valley Aerospace Team, to provide a variety of entertaining and educational experiences for visitors of all ages. Admission to the event is free and registration and reservations are not needed. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Activities will include tours of the NRAO's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the largest fully steerable telescope in the world, along with planetarium shows, a 65-foot inflatable cave, archaeology explorations, make-and-take astronomy crafts and a build-and-launch model rocket workshop.

The event includes activities for those from elementary-school age to scientific professionals.

The tours of NRAO facilities will allow participants to visit areas not normally open to the public, including telescope control rooms and engineering laboratories. Additional astronomy activities will include safe observing of the Sun (weather permitting), planetarium shows, and a hands-on exercise in making your own comet.

Visitors can also explore other sciences through activities provided by organizations from the Green Bank area.

Local archaeologists will display artifacts recovered from the area and illustrate how archaeological research is done.

The inflatable cave reproduces the geological features and resources found in the region's natural caves.

Staff from the Monongahela National Forest will give visitors the chance to use computer software to explore real geospatial data and learn how such software can help solve real-world problems.

The NRAO is located in Pocahontas County on Route 92/28, about 25 miles north of Marlinton, 53 miles south of Elkins, and 65 miles west of Staunton, Virginia.

Once on the observatory grounds, visitors should park by the Science Center, which is the first building on the left. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities Inc.



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