In Washington, DC, on Friday June 19th from 6 to 11 pm, visitors to the nation’s capital will be a given a free guided tour of the sky at the Sixth Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall.  The rain date is June 20th at The Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Avenue Northeast, Washington, DC Metro stop Brookland-CUA, Red line.

This free public stargazing is organized by Dr. Donald Lubowich, Coordinator of Astronomy Outreach at Hofstra University.  The Astronomy Festival on the National Mall (AFNM) will feature solar, optical, and radio telescope observations of the Sun, Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn; hands-on activities, demonstrations, hand-outs, posters, banners, and videos; a planetarium show with a portable blow-up dome, speakers from scientific and educational organization, and a chance to mingle with astronomers.

Dr. Lubowich and local amateur astronomers will set up twenty telescopes on the Mall. Starting at 6 pm, visitors will be able to view sunspots with the help of specially filtered telescopes.   After dusk and until 11 p.m. telescopes will provide close-up views of the Moon, Saturn with its beautiful rings, Jupiter and its moons, Venus, colorful double stars, and star clusters that sparkle like diamonds on black velvet.

This year we will also present LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb (LBYB), an exhibit of 20 images showcasing the incredible variety of light-based science being researched today across the electromagnetic spectrum, across scientific disciplines, and across technological platforms (from SPIE and the Chandra X-ray Center/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory). LBYB is a cornerstone project for the International Astronomical Union for the International Year of Light 2015 (declared by the United Nations and is supported by UNESCO).  See  

“Bringing astronomy to the National Mall and partnering with astronomical organizations gives us a very special opportunity to encourage children to pursue their interest in science or math and to promote public understanding of science,” said Dr. Lubowich. “Gazing at the rings of Saturn or the Moon’s craters and mountains captures the imagination, no matter how old you are.”  AFNM started as part of a NASA-funded Music and Astronomy Under the Stars program, which brought an astronomy festival to outdoor concerts throughout the US.

Representatives from some of the nation’s foremost scientific institutions, organizations, and universities will present exciting demonstrations and answer questions about the latest astronomical discoveries or careers in science.

Participating organizations: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American University, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Catholic University of American, Carnegie Institution for Science, Chandra X-ray Center/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, E-planetarium, Georgetown University, the Goddard Astronomy Club, George Mason University, George Washington University, Hubble Space Telescope, International Dark Sky Association, Montgomery College, National Capital Astronomers, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, National Science Foundation,  Naval Research Laboratory, Northern Virginia Astronomy Club,  Rappahannock Astronomy Club, Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers,  and the US Naval Observatory.  Historical astronomers Caroline Herschel, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler, dressed in period clothing and portrayed by astronomy educators, will discuss their discoveries. 

Endorsing/supporting organizations: American Association of Physics Teachers, American Astronomical Society, Association of Science-Technology Centers, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Astronomy Magazine, Friends of the Arlington Planetarium, Marian Koshland Science Museum, National Science Teachers Association, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and the Society of Physics Students.

Public parking is available at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center Building, entrance on 14th Street NW just 1/4 block North of Constitution Avenue, for $13.00 from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m.   Updates at .