Capturing our Colorful Cosmos, Part 2

One of the great things about the Museum is that it’s not only a place where you can try things and experiment with things, but it’s also a place where, in many cases, those “things” are the REAL things. With a second grant through the Smithsonian Affiliation’s Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos program, we continued what we began in the fall, by allowing young people at the Museum to remotely control real NASA telescopes, process their own real images of the Moon, Sun, and galaxies, and help create their own real exhibit within the Museum. Through this Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos project, young visitors came to the Museum’s brand new, state-of-the-art Best Buy Teen Tech Center over a series of three Sundays to create their astronomical artwork exhibit. Here’s how it worked:

Sunday #1: Young people used the Observing with NASA portal to access images from the Harvard-Smithsonian MicroObservatory database and learned how to process dark, raw images into real, clear, and colorful images of the cosmos – then they requested images of their choice from the telescopes, choosing their preferred exposure times, filters, and fields of view.

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Sunday #2: Next, they used their own real images that the telescopes had emailed to them, and used their new skills to create stunning images of objects in space. Then they chose their favorite piece of scientific artwork, to be displayed in their own exhibit on display at the Museum.

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Sunday #3: Upon entering the Best Buy Teen Tech Center, our young scientists/artists saw their own work in a semi-permanent real exhibit, and then were challenged to use media editing software to take their own colorful images of the cosmos, and create a short video story.

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Each Sunday, youth also had the chance to experiment with hands-on activities that helped bring home some of the science concepts related to how we observe the Universe – they created a “laser maze” while learning about telescope optics, used color filters to see how different filters help us see new details in space, and experimented with diffraction glasses while learning about how different kinds of light sources have their own distinctive “fingerprint” patterns of light.

Check out a couple of the videos created by these young scientists/artists. Afterward, you will think “Mind = Blown.”

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