On the evening of November 18, the Columbia Astronomy department held its first large-scale public outreach event in over a year. The night began with an astrobiology- and exoplanets-themed trivia game, followed by a short talk by Professor David Kipping (titled “Why We Might Be Alone,” arguing that we should remain skeptical of the presence of extraterrestrial life), and capped off with public stargazing on College Walk.
The event was organized primarily by Professor Kathryn Johnston, grad student Ryan Golant, and undergrads Selina Yang, Albert Zhang, and Matthew Werneken. A number of other Astro grad students and undergrads (from Blueshift and the Columbia Space Initiative) provided invaluable help with setup and stargazing.
This outreach event drew in over 140 attendees from around New York City, nearly filling up Pupin 428; public stargazing was also well-attended, attracting many passers-by from around campus. After the pandemic effectively halted the Astronomy department’s in-person outreach activities in 2020, the success of November’s event was a promising sign of a return to normalcy. Stay tuned for more public astronomy events in 2023!