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  • NASA Week Presented by the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association

    NASA Week Presented by the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association
    Nantucket, MA – The Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) has joined almost 500 sites across the country to celebrate the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s next great space observatory. To celebrate this scientific achievement, the MMA is hosting a NASA Week from November 1-6 and offering a range of public programs including free science kits, events with the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club, a pop-up Science Speaker Series lecture, and Open Nights at Loines Observatory.
    “We are thrilled that the Maria Mitchell Association is an official host site for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch community events,” said Dr. Regina Jorgenson, Director of Astronomy at the MMA.  “We have partnered with the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club to help our community celebrate this amazing feat of science and engineering, and we are very excited to host a JWST expert to speak during our pop-up science speaker lecture.”
    JWST is the largest and most complex space telescope ever built – the premier observatory of the next decade. This international mission, led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies, will launch in December 2021.
    The observatory will provide a new view of the cosmos and push the field of astronomy into a new era. The telescope will observe the universe in the infrared, peering inside dust clouds to study light from distant parts of the universe for the very first time – the first galaxies that formed about 13.5 billion years ago – and give us insight into how our universe formed. It will also explore distant worlds in other solar systems, as well as objects in our own solar system. The JWST will extend the scientific discoveries of other NASA missions like the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Please read below for the MMA’s full schedule of NASA Week events.
    Nantucket Boys & Girls Club Collaboration:
    On Tuesday, November 2, the MMA is hosting a special event from 1pm-2pm at the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club (NBGC). This program is open to all members of the NGBC and will be led by the MMA Education Coordinator, Camden Palm, and Astronomy Research Fellow, Celia Mulcahey. Participants will learn about the importance of this great space observatory and receive free science kits provided with support from ReMain Nantucket.
    On Thursday, November 4, the MMA is offering a FREE Open Night at Loines Observatory as part of Tween Night at The Club. The program is open to ten participants and sign-up is available through the NGBC.
    Science Speaker Series Lecture:
    The MMA is providing a pop-up Science Speaker Series Lecture with Dr. Stephanie LaMassa of the Space Telescope Science Institute on Wednesday, November 3, from 7pm-8pm. Her talk, “Unveiling the Mysteries of the Universe with James Webb Space Telescope” will be FREE for all participants and held via Zoom.
    When the JWST launches later this year, it will provide an unprecedented view of the cosmos and our place in it. This talk will highlight how observing infrared light will reveal the hidden Universe to us, the challenges in designing and deploying the most complex observatory yet built, and some of the science highlights we expect to learn from the JWST within just its first year of operations.
    Dr. Stephanie LaMassa is a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) working on the JWST mission. Dr. LaMassa received her bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and Physics from Boston University. She then worked for several years as a mission planner for the Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics before starting graduate school at The Johns Hopkins University. After receiving her PhD from JHU, she held a postdoctoral research position at Yale University, followed by a fellowship position at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. LaMassa joined STScI in 2017 and currently serves as the manager of the JWST NIRISS instrument branch.
    Dr. LaMassa studies the growth and evolution of accreting supermassive black hole holes (i.e., active galactic nuclei) and the interplay between black hole fueling and star formation from a multi-wavelength perspective. Dr. LaMassa is also interested in understanding how highly variable active galactic nuclei provide insight into the feeding habits of black holes and their lifetimes.
    To register for this lecture, please use the link below:
    Open Nights:
    The MMA is hosting two Open Night programs on Thursday, November 4 and Friday, November 5 from 7pm-8:30pm. Visitors to Open Nights will join the MMA’s professional astronomers for an impressive tour of Nantucket’s night sky. The MMA staff will lead constellation tours and guide visitors through different viewing stations outside the observatory domes.
    Programs take place at 59 Milk Street Extension and are weather permitting. No reservations are required; tickets will be available at the door. Open Nights are $10 for Non-Members and FREE for Members. On Thursday, November 4, this program will be free to all participating members of the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club’s Tween Night with pre-registration (see above). For updates on weather cancellations, please call (774) 325-1081or visit www.mariamitchell.org/open-nights.
    Everyday Science Kits:
    On Saturday, November 6, the MMA is handing out NASA Everyday Science Kits during Open Hours at the Natural Science Museum from 10am-1pm. These kits are offered for FREE to all, thanks to the generosity of ReMain Nantucket. The NASA kit explores the life cycle of a star with a bracelet making activity.
    To learn more about the Webb telescope, visit webb.nasa.gov. For information about other Webb community event locations, visit webb.nasa.gov/content/features/celebrateWebb.html.
    The Maria Mitchell Association is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages.


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