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CIERA Astronomer Evenings bring astronomy education to the public

Imran Sultan said he considered climate maps to figure out where to go see the eclipse. Photo: Nineth Kanieski Koso/The Daily Northwestern

Article by Nineth Kanieski Koso for The Daily Northwestern

Every Friday evening, Northwestern’s Dearborn Observatory holds free “Friday Nights at the Dearborn Observatory” where the public can come and look through the Dearborn telescope.

The event lasts two hours — the first hour of tours being reservation only and the second hour of tours being drop in.

Fifth-year physics Ph.D. candidate Kierstin Sorensen, who works at the observatory, said she always wanted to work at the observatory because loves doing public outreach and sharing her knowledge of astronomy.

Sorensen said she particularly likes looking at binary systems — when two stars orbit each other — with the Dearborn telescope. The telescope can also see planets, moons and very dim star clusters, she said.

“I hope I spark a fascination that leads to further exploration,” Sorensen said. “I hope (people) see something interesting that they’ve never seen before and it gives them a little new perspective, a new experience, and it has them come back to see something else another time.”

The Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics also hosts Astronomer Evenings at the observatory every last Friday of the month at Dearborn Observatory.

CIERA Astronomer Evenings are free educational talks on different astronomy topics each month. This past Friday, fourth-year physics Ph.D. candidate Imran Sultan gave a presentation about astrophotography of the sun.

“This year in particular has been an incredible year to look up at the sun, observe the sun and try to photograph it,” Sultan said.

Sultan won the 2023 Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition astronomy category with a photo of the Western Veil Nebula, remnants from a big star explosion.

Sultan talked about photographing the solar eclipse and the Northern Lights during his presentation.

Read the full Daily Northwestern story.