June 7, 2019
Writer: Jaime Strobel

Families are invited to learn about science and space tomorrow at BYU-Idaho and participate in activities that are out of this world.

BYU-Idaho is hosting Astrofest, a day filled with S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities and educational learning.

“Astrofest…is an opportunity for some public outreach for us to teach a little bit of astronomy and have some fun with it,” Stephan McNeil, Planetarium director and physics and astronomy professor at BYU-Idaho said.

Astrofest started after the Eclipse Fest that took place in 2017.

Natalie Macbeth, a recent graduate of BYU-Idaho in biology and chemistry and a N.A.S.A Solar System Ambassador suggested doing an Astrofest event last year and helped with putting it together.

“It was a lot fun and very successful,” she said.

This year’s theme for Astrofest is celebrating 50 years since the lunar landing. Many of the activities are focused on the sun and moon. Some of the activities include, digging for meteorites, an augmented reality sandbox, virtual reality goggles, solar telescope and many more. For the grand finale, kids will get to launch their model rockets.

If kids participate in a certain number of activities, they will receive an Astrofest badge.

“That was a bigger hit then I thought…every kid wanted one,” McNeil said. Last year they gave around 400 badges to the kids and had about 600 people come.

“[We] decided if that many people are going to show up we’re going to have even more events, and we bought even more badges, and I think it will be a lot of fun,” he said.

The Planetarium will be showing the Apollo 11 moon landing. It will be play every 30-45 minutes starting at 10:15 a.m. There will also be presentations at 11:00 and 11:30 by professors Ryan Neilson and Brian Tonks. They will speak about the high-altitude balloon and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Astrofest is more centered for children and teenagers. However, adults can participate by watching the Planetarium shows, listening to the lectures and watching the physics demonstrations.

The Planetarium is open to the public every Thursday at 7 p.m. and is $2 a person. In honor of the moon landing, shows will be free during July.

Astrofest will be at 10:00 a.m.-1:45 p.m. at the Romney Building and Spori Quad. For more information visit https://www.byui.edu/planetarium/astrofest-2019.