Nights of wine and stars: Aug. 12 STEM Café offers Perseid Meteor Shower, telescopes, vino

STEM Café attendees will get a chance to view the Perseid Meteor Shower, which occurs every August when Earth passes through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Image courtesy of nasaimages.org

STEM Café attendees will get a chance to view the Perseid Meteor Shower, which occurs every August when Earth passes through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Image courtesy of nasaimages.org

Question: what’s better than gazing up at a summer sky filled with shooting stars? Answer: gazing up at those same beautiful stars while drinking a cool, crisp glass of wine.

On Sunday, Aug. 12, STEM Outreach invites adults to the August STEM Café: “An Evening of Shooting Stars and Chardonels.”

This fun, casual event takes place from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Acquaviva Winery, located on Route 38 in Maple Park.

Three astronomy experts will be on hand to discuss astronomy, telescopes and the Perseid Meteor Shower, which peaks that night.

  • Donna Kubic, NIU alumna and astrophysicist at Fermilab, will share information about the optical telescope of Fermilab’s Dark Energy Survey.
  • Pati Sievert, STEM Outreach director, will show attendees how to use star wheels to locate celestial bodies in the night sky (without the use of a smartphone app).
  • Jeremy Benson, STEM Outreach associate, will lead attendees in viewing planets and constellations through NIU’s telescopes.

Throughout the evening, attendees should also be able to view the Perseid Meteor Shower.

These fast, bright meteors radiate from the Perseus constellation and appear throughout the night sky every August. Depending on weather conditions, the meteors should be visible with the naked eye.

Attendees are also welcome to bring their own telescopes and stake out a spot to star gaze on one of Acquaviva’s patios. “Acquaviva is located in an area with less ambient light,” Sievert says, “so it should be ideal for stargazing.”

STEM Café guests learn about science, meet new people and have the chance to win prizes such as gift cards and STEM Outreach gear.

STEM Café guests learn about science, meet new people and have the chance to win prizes such as gift cards and STEM Outreach gear.

The event is free and open to the public.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase from Acquaviva Winery.Organizers say that they will uncork Acquaviva’s wines and discuss the stars whether the night is clear or cloudy.

The STEM Café series will continue hosting monthly events at area restaurants this fall. On Thursday, Sept. 13, Stem Café returns to Taxco Restaurant in Sycamore for a program on “Making Things Stronger,” featuring Michael Haji-Sheikh of the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

The STEM Café is just one of the many fun and engaging events STEM Outreach provides to the community throughout the year.

This summer, STEM Outreach hosted more than 100 young people at their STEM summer camps and treated community members to astronomy talks and observatory tours with Summer Under the Stars. STEM Outreach also presents the STEM Teen Read, a program that helps teens learn about the science behind science fiction books with online videos, games, and live discussions by NIU experts.

Every October, STEM Outreach also presents STEMfest, an event that brings thousands of families to NIU’s Convocation Center to participate in hundreds of hands-on activities to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math.  This year’s STEMfest is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20.

For additional information on STEM Outreach events and upcoming STEM Cafés, visit www.niu.edu/stem or contact Judith Dymond at jdymond@niu.edu.

by Gillian King-Cargile

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