The Open Day 2010 of ASTRON, JIVE and the NOVA Optical/Infrared group at ASTRON, held on Sunday 24 October at the Westerbork telescope, was a big success. The activities were visited by a broad audience: families with young kids, teenagers and adults visited the astronomical institutes en masse.
The activities were divided over two tents, a lecture tent and a tent with the other activities. Here the comet show, the famous Pretlab and Making your own pulsar were the biggest hits.
This year, ASTRON had the possibility of borrowing the mobile planetarium of the University of Groningen, for this day. In here, visitors could sit in a dark planetarium and go on a trip through the Universe. Within the hour, the planetarium was fully booked for the day!
Besides this, visitors could see and hear everything about astronomy by doing experiments, such as how a mobile phone can interfere with an antenna and what happens if you put chocolate foam candy under a glass bell and take out all the oxygen.
The NOVA Optical/ Infrared Group of ASTRON showed how the light can break into different colours and how you can measure the thickness of your hair.
Hanny van Arkel, a famous Dutch teacher who discovered Hanny's Voorwerp, was a special guest at the Open day. She helped people classify galaxies themselves, as real astronomers, in the online project GalaxyZoo, which is set up by gitarist and astronomer Brian May.
During the lectures, astronomers enthusiastically talked about their work. Tom Oosterloo showed visitors what it is like to work at ASTRON. Marco de Vos gave a presentation for kids. Despite his late (but spectacular!) entrance, he talked to a jam-packed room filled with kids. Huib Jan van Langevelde explained how JIVE is the centre for European and worldwide telescopes and Michiel van Haarlem presented everything there was to know about ASTRON's new telescope: LOFAR, opened this year by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Finally, seven high school boys were presenting a very special project: the CanSat. They explained how they participated in this space competition for high schools, for which they designed a satellite in a soda can, which, with a parachute, could be thrown from great heights.
In the tent, ASTRON staff built a complete miniature control room. In the real control room in Dwingeloo, observers of ASTRON control the Westerbork telescope and the LOFAR telescope. In the tent visitors could see how this works.
A visit to the Westerbork telescope is not complete without steering the telescope yourself. This is exactly what visitors could do, using a joystick. Not just a big hit for kids, also adults could pretend to be an astronomer for a minute!
The number of visitors on this open day lied between 1500 and 2000. Other organizations that participated in the open day were: CAMRAS and the department Noord-Drenthe of the Dutch society for Weather and Astronomy.
Click here to see a film of the open day 2010.
Pictures of the open day 2010 can be seen here: