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Astronomical society aiming high for 50th anniversary of moon landing

There won’t be any half measures when Macarthur Astronomical Society celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

It has joined forces with One Giant Leap Australia for a full day dedicated to that momentous day, including having seven current and former scientists from NASA present a series of talks and discussions.

Billed as Apollo 11 to STEM and the Next Giant Leap, it will be held in the Campbelltown campus of Western Sydney University on July 21.

Allan Hobbs, the president of Macarthur Astronomical Society, says everyone is welcome to attend what should be a great celebration of space exploration, past, present and future.

“On 21 July 1969, at 12:56:15pm AEST, Neil Armstrong placed the first footprint on the moon. Our event will celebrate this moment in time with a showing of the iconic Australian movie The Dish,’’ Mr Hobbs said.

“However, more importantly, we will have seven current and former scientists who carry the flag for humanity’s continued exploration of space.

“They will present a series of talks and discussions on various science projects to help our local students and adults with their STEM education.’’

Tom Nolan, Shannon McConnell, Debra Brice, Rachel Zimmerman Brachman, Christine Fuller, Dr Mike Malaska, Todd Barber are the seven scientists who will travel to Australia to appear live on the big day.

Tom Nolan is an Earth Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), while Shannon McConnell is a Solar System Outreach Specialist.

Debra Brice is a Marine Science Educator, San Marcos Unified School District, Rachel Zimmerman Brachman a Senior Outreach Specialist at NASA JPL, and Christine Fuller, pictured, is a Mechanical Engineer specializing in robotics and mechantronics.

Dr Mike Malaska is an Astrobiologist and Todd Barber a Senior Propulsion Engineer.

The day will start with the introduction of the seven visiting scientists followed by a panel discussion and Q&A titled Moon or Mars?

The Movie The Dish will then be shown around 11.15am, followed by lunch, and then from around 2.30pm twin streams of 7 STEM talks by the NASA scientists will get under way.

Camden and Campbelltown Councils have provided support for the day.

The Macarthur Astronomical Society Inc, which was established in January 1996, have always held monthly meetings at the Campbelltown campus of the university.

“Members – we have around 140 at the moment – can also enjoy astronomy observing sessions and telescope workshops at The Oaks and at Belanglo Forest where we hire a cabin every month from International House, University of Sydney,’’ says Mr Hobbs.

“At a time of accelerating scientific research and public interest, we believe there’s never been a more exciting time to be an astronomer.’’

Since early 2015 the society has been working with local schools to encourage STEM projects.

“Last year we mentored 13 students from one of our local schools in various aspects of astronomy, with demonstrable success, several of them winning science prizes,’’ Mr Hobbs said.


WHO Macarthur Astronomical Society

WHAT Apollo 11 to STEM and The Next Giant Leap

WHEN Sunday, July 21

WHERE Western Sydney University, Campbelltown campus, building 30


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