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SciFiles: What's So Cool About Astronomy?


What’s so cool about astronomy?

Astronomy is cool because at night we see a vast dark sky with pinpricks of light. Those pinpricks represent many different objects surrounding us—other planets, galaxies, nebulas and stars, and some of those stars even have other planets orbiting them.

It was just announced that the Kepler Telescope—the “exoplanet hunter”—has identified 219 new planets outside our solar system orbiting other stars. Ten are “earth-like,” which means they are in a zone that is just the right distance from its star to support complex life.

Astronomy can also provide unique personal experiences, such as the Great American Eclipse coming up on August 21. This special total solar eclipse will occur because that moon passes between the earth and the sun, and its distance from Earth will provide just the right sized shadow to completely block the view of the sun throughout a 70-mile path across the United States. Most of the country will experience 70-90 percent darkness. Here in Wichita, we will experience 90 percent.

If you are not traveling to the path of totality up close to Kansas City or into Nebraska, Exploration Place is holding an Eclipse Party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on August 21. They’ll have food trucks, fun activities and, most importantly, safe viewing of this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime eclipse event!

Traci Kallhoff is the director of education at Exploration Place.