SCHENECTADY — Seniors now have an opportunity to learn about what’s going on in the universe.
The Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci) and the Dudley Observatory in Schenectady is offering Senior Science Days on the first Monday of every month.
The object of this new series is to educate seniors about new discoveries astronomers are making about the galaxy around us, said program founder Dr. Valerie Rapson.
“We discuss whatever current events are going on in outer space,” she said.
Rapson said she wanted to develop an astronomy program specifically geared towards seniors.
“I’ve been doing outreach for children for years, but there aren’t as many programs for their parents and seniors,” said Rapson. “I really wanted to create a more cohesive program for adults.”
Rapson started the program as a graduate student in her hometown of Rochester in 2011. She traveled to different senior communities every month to educate and update people about the latest astronomical discoveries and what they mean.
“People really liked it a lot. They really liked to learn about astronomy and outer space,” said Rapson.
Now as Dudley Observatory’s outreach astronomer, Rapson has taken her program to a facility that best fits her out-of-this-world presentations. The domed ceiling gives her a bigger canvas to work with than what she used with her PowerPoint presentations while she drove from place to place around Rochester, and she can use miSci’s other exhibits to demonstrate what is going on around us.
“We have the tools and the space here to accommodate seniors,” said Rapson.
Rapson kicked off her Senior Science Day program in November with a presentation about the discovery of water on Mars. Her most recent topic was centered around Pluto — the planet that was redefined as a planetoid before being classified as a dwarf planet last year.
Future topics include the following:
March 7 — Life in our Solar System Beyond Earth
April 4 — Earth-like Planets Outside our Solar System
May 2 — Searching for Intelligent Life
June 6 — How Big is the Universe?
July 4 — Near Earth Asteroids
Aug. 1 — Explosive Stellar Deaths
Sept. 5 — Galaxies and Galactic Cannibalism
Oct. 10 — Gravity and Black Holes
Nov. 7 — The Creation of the Universe
Dec. 5 — Updates from the Robots on Mars
The two-part program about life on other planets is something Rapson said should be of special interest to the generation that grew up during the “space race” of the 1950s and 1960s, when people began looking beyond our own planet to see what was up there.
“Science has been hoping that there is (life on other planets), and now we’ve developed the technology to see if we can discover it,” said Rapson.
Each program starts at 3 p.m. at the Dudley Observatory at miSci, 15 Nott Terrace Heights in Schenectady. Programs are accessible for those with hearing, walking or vision problems. For more information, call 382-7890 or visit DudleyObservatory.org.