When the stars make you drool

STEM Café returns Aug. 11 to Acquaviva for stargazing, wine

Attendees can view the Perseid Meteor Shower, which occurs every August when Earth passes through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Image courtesy of NASA.

Attendees can view the Perseid Meteor Shower, which occurs every August when Earth passes through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Image courtesy of NASA.

Dean Martin had it right when he crooned “That’s Amore” – wine, stars and Italian food are a magical combination.

Join STEM Outreach at Acquaviva Winery for the next STEM Café to enjoy the meteors, the moon, the menu, and, of course, NIU experts on astronomy.

“Star Gazing at the Winery” will take place from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at Acquaviva (Route 38 in Maple Park). Speakers include Joel Knapper, NASA ambassador; Paul Stoddard, associate professor of plate tectonics, geodynamics, planetary geology at NIU; and Matthew Wiesner, physicist and manager of NIU’s Observatory.

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 every August. Depending on weather conditions, the meteors should be visible with the naked eye.

The speakers are planning a fun, casual talk about the latest in astronomy news. Knapper will discuss the Cassini-Huygens, a robotic spacecraft that was launched in 1997 and has been orbiting Saturn since 2004. Cassini recently made headlines by capturing breath-taking images of Earth, the Moon, and the rings of Saturn.

Paul Stoddard

Paul Stoddard

Stoddard plans to talk about the Perseid Meteors, the difference between meteors and meteorites, and the possibility of the United States being hit by a large meteor such as the one that recently crashed in Russia.

Wiesner will bring telescopes and help attendees identify features in the night sky.

Attendees are also welcome to bring their own telescopes and stake out a spot to star gaze on one of Acquaviva’s patios. Organizers say that the winery is located in an area with less ambient light so it should be ideal for star-gazing.

The event is free and open to the public. Food and drinks will be available for purchase from Acquaviva Winery. STEM Outreach plans to uncork Acquaviva’s wines and discuss the stars whether the night is clear or cloudy.

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

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